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Foreign Legion Playtight

Label: Look Records

Bay Area b-boys extraordinaire Foreign Legion-Marc Stretch, Prozack and DJ Design-come strong on their aptly titled sophomore LP. High-octane party jams dominate, with block-rocking beats and braggadocio-filled rhymes galore. Never taking themselves too seriously, the NoCal trio let loose with 13 quality joints dedicated to mic-rocking, liquor-sipping and running game on the honeys. Check out the swinging retro-funk of "Party Crashers" or the neck-breaking "How Do It Feel?" for prime examples of the FL's sonic superiority. Read more » 

Natcha Atlas Something Dangerous

Label: Mantra

Atlas has been floating around the world beat and electronic music scenes for a hot minute or two. Over the years, she's had a lot to do with the spread of the diasporan dub sound as the featured singer in Transglobal Underground, on her own solo work, and in collaborations with everyone from Jah Wobble to Jean-Michel Jarre. She's a superstar in the Arab world, France and in parts of Europe, but how would Atlas-she of the lotus-like voice-handle a cover version of James Brown's "Man's World"? Read more » 

KEMETIC Just Minstrel Speak

Label: Diaspora

Atlanta house production duo Kemetic Just meet our demands for music with a message by allowing Philly's spoken-wordologist Rich Medina some space to comment on both bling" and race. Sweet Abraham's rework opens with Lady Alma invoking the spirits before a rugged, low-riding, offbeat riddim drops. Even Gil Scot would approve of these soul techniques. " Read more » 

Angela Johnson They Don't Know

Label: Purpose

At some point, people are gonna realize the neo-soul thing is not just all hype. There's something real happening. Quite possibly, that moment might come soon after hearing They Don't Know, which neatly fills the space between hip-hop, R&B, jazz and downtempo. The multi-talented Johnson raises obvious comparisons to Peven Everett. Like Everett, she produces, arranges and plays keys, in addition to singing. Johnson's sound is fairly contemporary-DJ Spinna produces a track. Read more » 

Various A Blow To the State

Label: Coup D'Etat

An indie hip-hop label obsessed with the politics of the business-what could be more tired? Read more » 

J Boogie's Dubtronic Science S/t

Label: Om

At an earlier point in life' might have called J Boogie's Dubtronic Science a religious experience. But today the medley of loping, after-the-acid-trip tunes conjures visions of velour-clad hipsters lounging under junior prom disco balls. Stronger tracks like "Universal Dub," which features Jamaican radio DJ and poet Tony Moses, and "Movin to my Beat," with LA's People Under the Stairs, almost compensate for watered-down numbers like Goapale and Capitol A's "Try Me"-you'd expect more from some of these artists. But on the "beats for your sheets" tip, the album fulfills its promise. Read more » 

Onry Ozzborn The Grey Area

Label: One Drop

An amazing MC from Seattle's Oldominion crew, Onry Ozzborn doesn't fail to impress with his new album. A 25-deep crew full of talent, Oldominion have been steady making interesting hip-hop in the Pacific Northwest for years. Onry touches on various subjects from Jesus Christ to ghosts to Gandalf to wack emcees, and he does so with lyrical finesse, a touch of morbidity and a hint of humor. Production gets a little gothic on tracks like "Believe 2" and "Dance Your Life Away" with somber melodies and minor chords. Read more » 

Ceephax Acid Crew

Label: Breakin'

Ah, the halcyon days of rave-those heady moments of dancefloor epiphany, stolen away in the setting of a dingy warehouse with the morning sun filtering in through skylights and the infectious sound of a TB-303 acid line writhing its way out of the speakers. Sound familiar? Read more » 

Cool Hipnoise Showcase & More

Label: Select Cuts

Afro-Brazilian cool and acid jazz form the outer contours of Cool Hipnoise, a group that combines electro flamboyance with dub flavor. Percussion arrangements range from ostentatious to ultra-urbane, interweaving clava, snare and African gourd sounds. "Dois" evokes Getzian Ipanema and "3 Por Timor" combines bossa nova bass with lilting horns. The populist spirit of dub is redolent in such tracks as "C'Mon Family," which features The Last Poets, and the swank redux of Nirvana's "Come As You Are." Read more » 

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