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Hip Hop Music

Murs & Fashawn, “This Generation”—Album Review

Duck Down Music (2012)

Though serial collaborator Murs turns out as many co-op albums as he does solo joints (seriously), few hit the creative sweet spot quite as well as This Generation—his cooperative effort with Fresno-based rapper Fashawn. The LP sails through its dozen tracks with a greater ease than you’d think possible from a long-distance collaboration between two rappers who didn’t really know each other prior to the project’s beginning. As it turns […]

Jay-Z Opens Up the Barclays Center in Brooklyn

Over the weekend, Jay-Z helped to open up the Barclays Center in Brooklyn by the playing the first of eight concerts he has scheduled at the sports arena/venue/upscale real estate development. The concerts, which began on September 28, mark not only the anomalous opening of a sporting venue that many speculated would never get built, but also an emotional homerun for the Jiggaman. He gets to see a basketball team […]

Weekly Mixtape: The Week’s Best Tracks (Edition 9.29.12)

Welcome to your Weekly Mixtape September 29, 2012–a collection of handpicked tracks for your hip-hop listening/viewing pleasure.   Shyne, “Fred Hampton (50 Cent Diss)” You know what? It’s been a while since 50 Cent has been involved in a good, old-fashioned beef. Like Superman and the light of a yellow sun, Curtis Jackson cannot tap the true nature of his powers without the acrimony of his fellow MCs. Fortunately, this […]

Lupe Fiasco, “Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. I” — Album review

Atlantic Records (2012)

A representative synecdoche for Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. I resides on the LP’s second track, wherein Fiasco treats gangster rap’s favorite motifs to a piece-by-piece dismantling. “Pills make you stupid and liquor do the same thing,” he raps. “Ferraris too expensive and they way too hard to maintain.” While the probity of these verses is laudable (as is the high-stepping beat and […]

The “Cruel Summer” Controversy

Unlike Lil Wayne’s Dedication 4, which elicited the immediate ire of fans and critics alike, Kanye West/G.O.O.D. Music’s Cruel Summer has affected a genre-wide split of opinion. This isn’t unprecedented for a AAA pop album, but for the oft-game-changing Mr. West, mediocrity is every bit as unprecedented as spontaneous combustion. In fact, had Yeezy straight up whiffed on this one, it might have been easier to process. As it stands, […]

Weekly Mixtape: The Week’s Best Tracks (Edition 9.21.12)

Welcome to your Weekly Mixtape September 21, 2012.   Kanye West ft. R. Kelly, “To the World” So, okay, Kanye West’s much anticipated Cruel Summer wound up being kind of a mixed bag. Whatever. Its high points are still devastating. In case you haven’t given this track any close consideration, let it be known that that’s no lesser a figure than R. Kelly silkily crooning, “The whole world is a […]

Kanye West/G.O.O.D. Music, “Cruel Summer”—Album Review

Def Jam/G.O.O.D. Music (2012)

As far as vanity label collaborative albums go, you could find much worse specimens than Kanye West/G.O.O.D. Music’s Cruel Summer. That the LP ultimately falls short of its potential owes less to the talents of those involved than to the fact that the G.O.O.D. Music stable, and Kanye West in particular, has such an extraordinary surplus of potential as to make anything less than a classic seem disappointing by comparison. […]

In Defense of Tech N9ne

Though never the most popular or critically renowned of MCs, Tech N9ne nonetheless deserves some plaudits. While many ostentatiously “innovative” rappers have forged careers that, for all their hype, still depended upon major label largess, Tech N9ne has carved his own stubborn path through the industry. Tech N9ne, born Aaron Dontez Yates, began his career in the early ‘90s. A son of the Midwest hip hop scene of Kansas City, […]

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 […]

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, […]