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Stefan Schumacher
14 May, 2014 3:03 pm

Southsiders is Atmosphere’s follow-up to their lush, highly musical 2011 album, The Family Sign. The veteran Minneapolis hip-hop group’s last album was a culmination of their evolving sound. Their newest offering, though, is a bit more rugged, with traditional hip hop beats and distorted samples from producer Ant taking the place of live guitar and [cont.]

21 August, 2013 7:25 pm

You’ll notice when Kendrick Lamar dropped his now infamous verse on “Control,” Tyler the Creator was one of the names he called out as his competition. Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler’s supposedly more lyrically potent running mate, was left off the list. Multiple listens to his debut, Doris, confirms that Kendrick has nothing to worry about from [cont.]

24 July, 2013 9:58 pm

Florida native Ace Hood got some unwanted publicity recently when his supposedly Rolodex watch fell to pieces during an interview at the BET Awards. Whoops. It was an embarrassing moment for a guy who rubs shoulders with bigwigs like Rick Ross, Lil’ Wayne, 2 Chainz and Wiz Khalifa, and is signed with DJ Khaled and [cont.]

22 June, 2013 8:22 am

Released on the same day as Kanye West’s Yeezus and J. Cole’s Born Sinner, Mac Miller’s second studio album, Watching Movies With The Sound Off seems like almost an afterthought. But instead, it acts more like a balm. While Kanye and Cole’s releases have a darker, hopeless feel, Mac Miller comes off almost enlightened. Listen [cont.]

19 June, 2013 12:47 am

Late on Born Sinner, J. Cole issues one of the most unnecessary apologies in hip-hop history. On “Let Nas Down,” he goes into great detail about how in his desperation to come up with a single for his debut album, Cole World: The Sideline Story, he disappointed his idol: “Dion called me when it dropped, [cont.]

24 April, 2013 3:59 am

There is a lingering affection among hip-hop heads for the grimy New York sound that was prominent in the 1990s. Today there’s something almost comforting about those rugged beats and rhymes, especially in contrast to today’s rinky dink production and de-emphasis on lyricism. Styles P, formerly of the Lox with Jadakiss and Sheek Louch, is [cont.]

15 April, 2013 12:55 pm

Tyga is having one of those rare bursts of creativity in music. It’s reminiscent of Kanye when he put out My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy concurrently with the GOOD Fridays sessions, or Bruce Springsteen’s wealth of material that came out of the Darkness on the Edge Town recordings. Well, okay, maybe Careless World, the Well [cont.]

13 April, 2013 5:43 am

The work of collective Odd Future has a love-it-or-hate-it relationship with its audience. While Tyler has received his fair share of criticism and attention for his profane shock and horror lyrics and homophobia, the Odd Future sound isn’t really intended for anyone seeking an intelligent or even coherent thought. It’s most likely for high school [cont.]

19 December, 2012 7:13 pm

Chief Keef is one of these artists whose personal drama is as or more interesting than his music. The 17-year-old from the South Side of Chicago has not only led a surge in popularity for a new local subgenre called “drill music”, he’s admittedly shot at police (so he says at the beginning of this [cont.]

11 December, 2012 1:43 am

Big Boi introduces himself on Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors as one half of Outkast, and while he and Andre 3000 have taken different creative paths, Big Boi’s solo work is proving he is more than capable of holding his own. This is technically his second solo effort, a follow-up to 2010’s Sir Lucious Left-Foot, [cont.]

1 October, 2012 5:51 am

After the disappointingly pop and overly slick Lasers, Lupe Fiasco has returned with his fourth album, the somewhat ridiculously titled Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1. Does this mean there will be a Food & Liquor II: Pt. 2? That seems like a fairly ludicrous possibility. More likely, there won’t [cont.]

13 August, 2012 3:23 pm

Harlem native Azealia Banks is part of a modest surge in female rappers, joining the likes of Kreayshawn, Iggy Azalea and the ubiquitous Nicki Minaj. With her new mixtape, Fantasea, Banks makes a forgettable impression. The first 10 tracks of the nearly hour-long mixtape are filled with non-stop frenetic, high-pitched, sped up electro-dance house beats. [cont.]

12 June, 2012 1:26 pm

Usher hasn’t seemed interested in making good music for some time now. Back when he put out Confessions, which feels like forever ago, he appeared to be taking his talent to new heights and evolving as an artist. But he’s made it clear with his last couple albums (Here I Stand and Raymond v. Raymond) [cont.]

1 May, 2012 10:46 am

De La Soul’s new concept album, First Serve, follows a rap duo starting out in the late 90s, as they rise to stardom, flame out and then get back together again. At this point in their career, with a deep catalog of classic and quality releases, it seems like the right time for the legendary [cont.]

18 April, 2012 12:06 pm

Odd Future (full name Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All) seems to make a brand of music that is intentionally garbage – crass, crude, misogynist, lacking in any musicality or substance. It’s the kind of thing you don’t want your mom to catch you listening to, which maybe partially explains its appeal to teenagers [cont.]

10 March, 2012 2:31 pm

Tyga’s Careless World: Rise of the Last King seems like the kind of mainstream release we would hate. A bloated, clichéd, guest-laden album with a subtitle that sounds like it should be the name of the next movie in the Clash of the Titans series. But surprisingly it’s not. In fact, as far as this [cont.]

6 March, 2012 4:10 pm

Following his intriguing mixtape of covers, The Life of Love’s Cupid, emerging soul singer BJ the Chicago Kid delivers his official debut, Pineapple Now-Laters, a smooth, rich R&B experience. After writing and singing backup for big-name artists such as Mary J. Blige and Musiq Soulchild, he steps out on his own and commands our attention. [cont.]

10 October, 2011 6:43 pm

Best known for his excellent work with the group Little Brother and recently heard on a standout guest appearance off The Roots’ How I Got Over album, Phonte’s first solo effort, Charity Starts at Home, is a natural continuation of his previous work. It’s a subgenre you could refer to as reality rap or hip-hop [cont.]

6 October, 2011 3:01 pm

J-Live has been around seemingly forever. Yet while some consider 2001’s The Best Part to be a classic and this reviewer thinks of “Satisfied” off 2002’s All of the Above to be one of hip-hop’s best songs (and surely the best post-9/11 anthem in any genre), his career has been kind of a mishmash of [cont.]

30 August, 2011 12:54 pm

If you listened to songs like “Good Girls Go Bad” (featuring Drake) and “Ricky” off The R.E.D. Album, you might have thought Game was back. That maybe he’d regained some of the form he displayed on the quasi-classic The Documentary. But aside from those two hard-driving, dramatic tracks with Game delivering provocative lyrics and sounding [cont.]

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