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Max Herman
21 January, 2007 12:00 am

    These days, making hip-hop for hip-hop’s sake, by paying tribute to the culture’s four elements, isn’t exactly what’s in demand. But the Visionaries don’t seem to be aiming for mass appeal today, nor have they ever. For this six-man crew, preserving the essence of hip-hop is vital, even if only the true b-boys and [cont.]

20 October, 2006 12:00 am

    Amid the recent explosion of the hyphy movement in the Bay Area, longstanding groups in the region like Zion I are proof that there’s a whole ‘nuther side of hip-hop up that way. It’s not that this Oakland duo’s music doesn’t bump, but Zion I’s ever-evolving beats and rhymes equal a sound that usually [cont.]

31 May, 2006 12:00 am

     With Tales of the Forgotten Melodies, Frenchman Wax Tailor (WT) introduces his 2005 full-length debut to America, and this instrumental effort just may be one of the most cinematic hip-hop efforts ever created. WT admits to being influenced by American instrumentals like DJ Shadow and RJD2, yet this album doesn’t show any blaring similarities [cont.]

29 March, 2006 12:00 am

    After eight years of hype and only one 12-inch single from the Army Of The Pharaohs (AOTP), as of late, this East Coast super group has been looking more like a concept rather than a reality. But when Babygrande announced this year that they would be putting out AOTP’s long-awaited debut album, all the [cont.]

22 December, 2005 12:00 am

   With funk and soul revivalists still in high demand, Staten Island’s The Budos Band makes a welcome entrance onto the scene with their somewhat familiar and always soulful brand of afro-influenced instrumental music heard on their self-titled debut. Unlike other modern afrobeat, funk and soul groups like Antibalas or Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, [cont.]

27 October, 2005 12:00 am

    One Self is a straight up cultural melting pot. Not only do their members bring an array of nationalities and ethnicities to the group, but their producer, DJ Vadim, sees no borders when it comes to his international-minded production. On their debut, Children Of Possibility, Vadim (a Russian born Londoner), MC Blu Rum 13 [cont.]

4 October, 2005 12:00 am

    Mr. Greenweedz and G.Riot of the Family Tree manifest precisely what Chicago hip-hop represents: beats and rhymes that are as soulful as they are grimy. On their full-length debut together, G-Strings, G.Riot unearths enough rare jazz breaks and rugged drum patterns to keep heads nodding throughout. Meanwhile, Mr. Greenweedz keeps his lyrical output engaging [cont.]

26 July, 2005 12:00 am

    White, suburban and financially secure…in 2005, an MC with these attributes is more common than ever. And more often than not you won’t find rappers with this standing flaunting their privilege. In fact, they do their best to cover it up. So when a talented freestyle MC from a well-to-do L.A. suburb comes along [cont.]

6 July, 2005 12:00 am

(Vaulted re-release; no rating given)     Digging in the vaults of defunct or negligent record labels is becoming an increasingly popular and wise decision on the part of independents. While the early-90s was undoubtedly a high point for hip-hop, even then, labels were more often concerned about capital than creativity. But thanks to labels like [cont.]

14 June, 2005 12:00 am

    Hype…..where would so many new acts be without it? While some artists get lucky by having the right person hear their records, many others have to find a way to get their music into the right hands. The Chapter falls into the latter category, being one of only two groups selected out of 5,000 [cont.]

5 May, 2005 12:00 am

Compilation release, no rating given     Whatever happened to the great benefit compilations? From raising awareness of AIDS to helping fight gun violence, not too long ago hip-hop artists would gladly unite for a noble cause. While this may seem like a thing of the past, the Impeach The Precedent compilation is a return to [cont.]

15 March, 2005 12:00 am

    Every now and then a quality album will fall between the cracks, going largely unnoticed. This usually occurs due to a lack of marketing and promotion, but not for Grayskull. They have an obstacle on their hands that is likely only to be cured by word of mouth: being a new group comprised of [cont.]

2 March, 2005 12:00 am

      Call it resilience or call it stubbornness, but MC/producer Capital D and DJ Tone B. Nimble of All Natural have not sacrificed their independent spirit and uplifting approach for anyone. Seven years after kicking down the doors of the underground with their unforgettable debut, No Additives, No Preservatives, this dynamic yet under-appreciated Chicago duo [cont.]

12 January, 2005 12:00 am

     Building on the sturdy foundation he laid with his first two thoughtful albums, Squints and The Fifth Sun, Offwhyte returns with his new mini-album, Bow To Sceptor–an extremely brief collection of well-written tracks, saturated with gloomy backdrops from a variety of producers. Not that Offwhyte was ever the quintessential cheery MC, but you could [cont.]

22 November, 2004 12:00 am

     Long since his days of making noise with Da Bulldogs in the early-90s, Edo G has retained his no-nonsense approach to rocking the mic. With his steady flow and enlightening lyrics still intact, Edo has no reservation in dubbing himself “Boston’s best.” To some, this self-given title may be disputable. Nonetheless Edo is unswayed [cont.]

17 November, 2004 12:00 am

     Don’t be fooled by the cover of this album: despite what the image of the chocolate syrup covered female may suggest, the Cool Man Association’s new long-runner All Over is hardly sexually-charged. What this striking image signifies is just how diverse the subject matter of the Grouch and Luckyiam is. As the Grouch says [cont.]

7 November, 2004 12:00 am

     So often in hip-hop a group or MCs’ debut album proves to be unsurpassable in their careers. Cannibal Ox’s 2001 debut, The Cold Vein, left such a meteoric impact on the underground that it’s going to be damn near impossible to create an even bigger impression. Earlier this year, Vast Aire of Cannibal Ox [cont.]

27 October, 2004 12:00 am

Sometimes support from a friend or family can quickly turn turmoil into triumph. For Q-Unique a simple phone call from longtime friend Ill Bill (of Non-Phixion) was the spark that helped ignite his solo career. When Q’s days with the Arsonists seemed to be coming to an end, Bill jumped in, ready to help get [cont.]

19 October, 2004 12:00 am

     It’s taken years for heads outside of the Midwest to catch wind of everything Chicago’s vast underground has to offer. Thanks to artists touring more extensively, getting greater distribution (and thanks to the Internet of course), things have finally changed in 2004. Enter Verbal Kent of Organic Mind Unit, one of Chicago’s many subterraneous [cont.]

11 October, 2004 12:00 am

     The Bay Area’s Quannum Projects has built its first-class reputation in hip-hop simply by consistently dropping quality material since the mid-90s. From the early Blackalicious EPs to the Lifesavas’ 2003 debut album, Spirit In Stone, this crews’ momentum has yet to falter.  But even as Quannum fans have come to expect nothing less than dopeness, heads [cont.]

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