XLR8R - logo

Reviews: Hip-hop


Review: Bike For Three! More Heart Than Brains

Label: Anticon

By most hip-hop labels' standards, this would be an adventurous album—but this is Anticon, where boundary pushing is the norm. Bike for Three! Read more » 

Review: Busdriver Jhelli Beam

Label: Anti-

Though he may be a rapper, most hip-hop fans probably hate Busdriver. Whenever the quirky, loquacious Los Angeleno hits the studio, he returns with a body of work that is anything but standard rap fare (a topic he addresses on “Least Favorite Rapper”). His latest, Jhelli Beam, picks up where 2007’s Roadkill Overcoat left off, but with a heavier electronic sound. Read more » 

Review: Prefuse 73 Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian

Label: Warp

In the lightning-quick world of music, it’s easy to forget about an artist like Guillermo Scott Herren (a.k.a. Prefuse 73). Although the man has been firmly entrenched in hip-hop’s leftfield for more than a decade, nearly two years have passed since his latest release—quite an absence given Herren’s previously prolific release schedule and music heads’ increasingly shrinking attention spans. Read more » 

Review: Tanya Morgan Brooklynati

Label: Interdependent Media

Tanya Morgan makes regular-ass rap music, but they do it exceptionally well. The second studio LP from this trio of (male) MCs, Brooklynati brings forth timeless beats and rhymes à la Native Tongues. You won’t find any trend-hopping, AutoTune, or electro-pop gimmicks—just straight up boom bap. Tracks like “Bang N Boogie,” with its simple drum break and horn loop, serve as reminders of the genre’s origins, while lead single “So Damn Down” kicks it really old school with a loungey Rat Pack vibe. Read more » 

Review: Sunspot Jonz Fight-Destroy-Rock/The Darkside Ov Heaven

Label: Outhouse

As a producer, Sunspot Jonz’s beats are always on point. As an MC, he’s a hype man at best. On this double release, The Darkside ov Heaven and Fight-Destroy-Rock, Sunspot has some ill things to say and an ear for dope beats, but it’s nothing we haven’t heard before. On Darkside, he crafts some heaters—“Hug Bacardi,” “Sunspeezy,” and the title track will surely have heads nodding. With Fight, Sunspot stays true to his “independent as fuck” mantra, taking it back to the classic, raw Living Legends sound, dusty four-track flavor and all. Read more » 

Review: Abstract Rude Rejuvenation

Label: Rhymesayers

Most artists would love to retire with Abstract Rude's resume: Good Life, Project Blowed, Freestyle Fellowship, radical solo artist and bandleader, respected guest and influence in the L.A. underground scene and beyond. Yet Abstract is still questing, this time delivering a mellow, soulful set that allows his singsong baritone to spill out extended metaphors, in-jokes stuffed inside jokes, Louis Armstrong impressions, collected wisdom, and the occasional Lakers shout-out. Read more » 

Review: Ras G Brotha From Another Planet

Label: Brainfeeder/Alpha Pup

After one listen to this sonic opus, it becomes apparent that Ras G is part of a brazen new group of pioneers in hip-hop sound architecture. Dexterously weaving vocal sound bites from sources as varied as Janet Jackson (“Penny’s Confession”) and The Last Poets (“Nothing But Change”) throughout his digital-versus-analog soundclash algorithms, Ras G fearlessly connects the dots between ancient African civilizations, Rastafarianism, and the extraterrestrial. Read more » 

Review: Xrabit + DMG$ Hello World

Label: Big Dada

Finally, a hip-hop album that owes as much to ’80s Saturday morning cartoons as it does U.K. grime and crunked-up Southern playalistics. From the get-go of opening track “Damaged Goods,” London-based producer Xrabit goes buck wild at the mixing console, laying down skittery Casio-esque pops and bleeps over an array of bassed-out percussion while Texan MCs Coool Dundee and Trak Bully get busy on the mics. Read more » 

Review: Mr. Lif I Heard It Today

Label: Bloodbot Tactical Enterprises

Unflinching MC Mr. Lif isn’t one to disappoint with his ever-challenging hip-hop. But what makes I Heard It Today his best work yet is that the Philly-based artist has found a way to write from a more relatable position. Instead of focusing his energy on verbally lashing corrupt authority figures, he reaches out to the people, sharing their stories of hardship. On the standout “What About Us?,” Lif gives those who can barely afford bus fare a voice while not forgetting to stick it to smug CEOs. Read more » 

Follow us on...

Get the lowdown weekly newsletter

XLR8R Downloads Player