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Aesthetic Considerations: A$AP Mob and Odd Future, Part 2

Earlier this week we took a look at the Odd Future—one of two up-and-coming hip-hop crews whose aesthetic is likely to define the next few years of the genre. In the case of Odd Future, this cultural saturation has already begun (2012 was the year of the cat t-shirt), but when it comes to A$AP Mob, Odd Future’s East Coast counterpart, the process of sponge-like permeation lags a couple steps […]


DMX, “Undisputed” — Album review

Seven Arts Music (2012)

I can buy that the title of Undisputed, DMX’s long-delayed seventh studio LP, promotes an aspirational sentiment, but even in a genre largely dependent on outsized self-promotion, the assertion that DMX’s supremacy in the hip-hop world is “undisputed” strains credulity. It’s been six years since we last heard from the Dogman, and in that time, DMX has had a rough time of it. There have been arrests, threats of retirement, […]


Aesthetic Considerations: A$AP Mob and Odd Future, Part 1

Any lingering doubts about A$AP Mob’s ability to define the next decade of hip-hop have been handily dispelled in the wake of its Lord$ Never Worry mixtape. In addition to building anticipation for its various solo releases, he crew’s sudden ascendance has placed it in an odd position with regards to hip-hop’s other reigning clique of the moment: Odd Future. One hails from LA, the other from New York; one […]


Dissecting Jay-Z

Yesterday’s New York Times profile of Jay-Z (courtesy of unimpeachable novelist/memoirist Zadie Smith) took a precariously laudatory tone toward its subject, a tack that helped both to highlight the Jiggaman’s extant qualities (of which there are many) as well as the contradictions that make those qualities such a tough pill to swallow. The article’s cause célèbre—the opening of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which will house the partly-Hova-owned New York […]


Lil Wayne, “Dedication 4” — Mixtape Review

YMCMB (2012)

There are effectively two Lil Waynes: the wunderkind world-beater of Dedication 3 and the walking tragedy of celebrity seclusion who does his messy business all over I Am Not a Human Being. Those who have waited the seemingly interminable five years between Dedications 3 and 4 will have to deal with both the triumph of Wayne’s return to the former mold, and the tragedy of his apparent inability to draw […]

flatbush zombies

Cheat Sheet: Flatbush Zombies

Need the facts about a hip-hop artist? Here’s a cheat sheet.   Who: Flatbush Zombies (Meechy Darko and Zombie Juice in the particular) hail from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Flatbush. They are not actually undead, though the duo partakes so commonly in hallucinogenic derangement as to have a hard time making this distinction. After trickling onto the national hip-hop scene earlier this year with a video clip for the track […]


Weekly Mixtape: The Week’s Best Tracks (Edition 9.01.12)

Welcome to your Weekly Mixtape September 1, 2012.   Trae the Truth ft. Waka Flocka Flame, “I Got Em” Offering a sterling example of “big, ridiculous stomping rap,” Trae the Truth and Waka Flocka Flame (two of the subgenre’s most sedulous proponents) have teamed up to create “I Got Em.” The track borrows many of its moves from the DMX playbook. Menacing, sky-high strings form the backbone of the beat, […]


A$AP Mob, “Lord$ Never Worry” — Album Review

A$AP Worldwide (2012)

Taking a page from the Rick Ross book of crew-based promotion, A$AP Mob (of which breakout star A$AP Rocky forms the integral portion) has released Lord$ Never Worry in well-timed anticipation of Rocky’s studio debut, which is due for release next month. While neither as furiously energetic nor as a stylistically pitch-perfect as A$AP Rocky’s LiveLoveA$AP mixtape, Lord$ Never Worry nonetheless establishes A$AP Mob as one of finest rap crews […]


The Masterful Delays of A$AP Rocky

At this point, A$AP Rocky’s debut LP (LongLiveA$AP) has been pushed back so many times as to make one wonder whether the record’s much beleaguered release date has suffered its various contortions in order to create a false sense of scarcity. Just today, XXL announced that LongLiveA$AP will be coming to us right around Halloween, instead of the September 11 release that the New Jersey-based Rocky had previously planned. Though […]


Weekly Mixtape: The Week’s Best Tracks (Edition 8.23.12)

Welcome to your Weekly Mixtape August 23, 2012.   DJ Khaled ft. Kanye West & Rick Ross, “I Wish You Could / Cold” Oh Hype Williams, where would we be without you? If not for Hype, modern pop music would never have known the visage of Will Smith decked out in full Pharaoh garb, or the artistic possibilities inherent in combining shaky cameras with dimly lit sewer tunnels. This mega-cut […]


2 Chainz, “Based On a T.R.U. Story” — Album Review

Island/Def Jam (2012)

2 Chainz’s profile has expanded to such dimensions during the past year as to demand media scrutiny for his debut record, Based On a T.R.U. Story, in excess of the album’s actual quality. Not that T.R.U. Story is a bad recording, per se, it’s just that when held up against other offerings on pop hip-hop’s variegated menu, the LP betrays its comparatively bloodless hue. For 2 Chainz, stardom has come […]


The Week in Hip-Hop Footwear

If you had doubts as to the state of hip-hop’s love affair with athletic footwear, this past week should have put them to rest. Three of the biggest names in the genre—Rick Ross, Meek Mill and Lil Wayne—rolled out new sneaker deals that should add considerably to their collective fortunes.   Artist: Rick Ross; Shoe Brand: Reebok; Who’s getting the better deal?: Reebok Presenting the corpulent Rick Ross with a […]


Ghostwritten: Nas, etc.

Accusations of ghostwriting have plagued a number of high-profile MCs, but the implication this past week that Nas employed “leftist” rappers Jay Electronica and stic.man to ghostwrite several tracks on his 2008 LP Untitled have carried with them a greater weight than usual. Though never one to snub the opportunity for a commercial cash-in, Nas still enjoys a reputation as a thinking man’s MC, perhaps not possessed of the agitprop […]


Domo Genesis X The Alchemist, “No Idols” — Album Review

No Idols, the second solo mixtape by Domo Genesis, pairs him with producer The Alchemist. That match proves immediately beneficial to both parties. Though not in possession of the explosive talent displayed by Tyler, the Creator or the visionary cool of Frank Ocean, Domo Genesis nonetheless fills a distinct niche within the Odd Future, one that makes the collective stronger as a whole. Problems emerge when Domo is called upon […]


Cheat Sheet: The-Dream

Need the quick facts about an artist? Here’s a cheat sheet.   Who: Though Terius Youngdell Nash (aka The-Dream) is best known for his world-beating production work and excessive love of hyphenates, the R&B producer has a musical imagination far more nuanced than his work as a hit-maker suggests. After a childhood spent perfecting his talents on a slew of instruments in Atlanta, Nash broke into R&B production by writing […]

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