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Reviews: Hip-hop


Review: The Grouch & Eligh Say G&E!

Label: Legendary Music

Left-coast luminaries The Grouch and Eligh have made a tradition of sharing wisdom and morality over mesmerizing production, so Say G&E!, the Living Legends’ members third shot as a tag team, is a business-as-usual affair. It's loaded with substantive wordplay and laidback beats, with just enough nod factor to make necks cramp. MC Eligh also produces a majority of the album, crafting lush, somber soundscapes (“Say G&E!,” “Do It Again”) and upbeat jams (“All In,” “Worried About the World”). Read more » 

Review: Lady Sovereign Jigsaw

Label: Midget

While some of her early singles like “Random” and “Ch-Ching” could be labeled as grime, London’s Lady Sovereign never gained full acceptance from the scene that the media desperately wanted her to be a part of. On her sophomore album, Jigsaw, Sov ignores expectations, only sticking to one constant—making pop-friendly music. Read more » 

Review: Verbal Kent & Kaz One Brave New Rap

Label: Gravel

Since dropping his solo debut in 2003, reliable Chicago rhymer Verbal Kent has avoided hip-hop trends with relative sonic success. But on his fourth LP, and first made exclusively with producer Kaz One, the MC takes his gimmick-free hip-hop a notch higher. While “Wars R’ Us” sees the duo elevating their specialties of synthy boom-bap and sharp battle rap, the remainder of the record accomplishes far more. A booming organ-driven posse cut (“Remove the Gag” feat. Read more » 

Review: DOOM Born Like This

Label: Lex

DOOM is an MF, no question. A self-described “supervillain,” his megalomania knows no bounds—luckily, neither do his rhyme skills. On Born Like This, the latest installment in the (now just) DOOM saga unfolds through alliterative lines laced with obscure in-jokes and superlative boasts. Read more » 

Review: Aceyalone Aceyalone & The Lovely Ones

Label: Decon

Understandably perturbed about the lack of doo-wop-influenced hip-hop, L.A.’s finest underground MC decided to do something about it—hence this tribute to ’60s soul. Read more » 

Review: Two Fingers Two Fingers

Label: Paper Bag

This debut from Brazilian icon Amon Tobin and collaborator Joe “Doubleclick” Chapman takes psych hip-hop one step forward. A quick listen could prompt suspicions that the duo scanned the Cliff Notes for Timbaland, but the acid-melted percussion and fluid rhythms recall Tobin’s ’00 masterwork, Supermodified. “What You Know”’s clanging Middle Eastern beats resemble those of the Tobin oldie, “Saboteur,” while the closer, “Moth Rhythm,” is electro-fried funk at its galactic best. Read more » 

Review: Baron Zen Rhythm Trax Vol. 3

Label: Stones Thow

Taking heavy cues from breakdancing tournaments of yore, mall-punker Baron Zen’s hip-hop and electro rhythms often sound like they were programmed 25 years ago on dusty Roland drum machines (witness the Cybotron-meets-Man Parrish jaunt of “Rocket Ship!”). His wet, synth squelches and vocodered party calls are godlessly cheesy (“Robert Funk”), and while there are some amusing moments here that could fatten a sampler, the Trax are not strong nor clever enough to be more than filler for DJs looking to provoke smirks and chuckles. Read more » 

Review: Odd Nosdam T.I.M.E. Soundtrack

Label: Anticon

Bay Area beatician Odd Nosdam sequences fuzz-addled dimensions steeped in ambient hiss, industrial blur, and record static with boom-bapping bliss-outs galore on the T.I.M.E. Soundtrack—a custom-made score for the 2007 Element Skateboards film, This Is My Element. On tracks like “Wig Smasher” and “Root Bark,” Nosdam channels Boards of Canada, glazing bass-bursting 808s and reverb-drenched synths over a slew of choppy, mechanized percussion, while “Top Rank” finds him tapping into sounds from around the globe with its dubby bounce and Indian-inspired drones. Read more » 

Review: N.A.S.A. The Spirit of Apollo

Label: Anti-

While the producers behind The Spirit of Apollo—Spike Jonze’s little bro Sam Spiegel and Brazil’s DJ Zegon—are certainly competent beatsmiths with an impressive rolodex, their debut album is a bloated, unfocused collection of bland hip-hop and WTF? Read more » 

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