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Tech N9ne Something Else

Tech N9ne “Something Else” –Album Review

Strange Music (2013)

The title of Tech N9ne’s new album, Something Else, could serve as a great catchphrase to explain the rapper to someone who’s only vaguely familiar with his music. Tech has sold more than 1 million albums over his career, but there are plenty of people who fall into that category. Operating in the fringes of the mainstream (on purpose, it seems), the Kansas City native is the Jay-Z of independent […]

Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons Launches All Def Music With Steve Rifkind, Universal Music Group

It’s no secret that YouTube has been the go-to portal for industry execs to sift through undiscovered talent in search of the next star. However, no major label has outright set up shop on Google’s video site – or admitted to such – until now. Def Jam Recordings co-founder Russell Simmons and veteran producer Brian Robbins are the first. The two announced a pioneering venture called All Def Music backed […]

Ace Hood Trials and Tribulations

Ace Hood “Trials & Tribulations” –Album Review

Cash Money Records (2013)

Disenchanted with his Def Jam debut album sales, Ace Hood was telling interviewers that he contemplated quitting rap. He probably wouldn’t be missed. The South Florida upstart didn’t get much traction in terms of album sales despite having charting hits in “I’m So Hood” and “Hustle Hard.” The singles didn’t translate into album sales, and there is a reason for that. At times, Ace Hood came across as nothing more […]


In Perspective: Harvard Names Fellowship After Nas

Rebellious hip-hop culture and the ivory tower make strange bedfellows, but lately there seems to be a palpable trend towards the two cozying up next to each other. On the heels of Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine chipping off a piece of their Beats by Dre and Interscope fortune to start their own school within the University of Southern California, Harvard University – not to be outdone – has named […]


Mayer Hawthorne Previews “Where Does This Door Go?” at Mister Cartoon’s Studio

MIMO was on hand Wednesday evening at renowned tattoo artist Mister Cartoon’s studio in downtown Los Angeles as Mayer Hawthorne previewed the new album Where Does This Door Go? (Republic Records). The album releases July 16, but the handful of media and industry people on hand had a chance to listen to the project while treated to free Umami burgers and a Patron-sponsored open bar. (Stream the album on NPR’s […]


El-P and Killer Mike “Run The Jewels” – Mixtape Review

Fool's Gold (2013)

El-P and Killer Mike were bound to cross paths at some point. The former Company Flow frontman has carved a niche as a beloved independent producer and emcee, while the latter has become a counter-culture hero who has become a respected political voice (not to mention a critically acclaimed emcee). With Run the Jewels, released as a free mixtape by Fool’s Gold Records, El-P and Killer Mike serve up a […]


Jay-Z’s “Magna Carta Holy Grail” Is Here. Is It A Magnum Opus?

Roc Nation (2013)

Jay-Z announced the new album Magna Carta Holy Grail during Game 5 of the NBA Finals, but since he is a business, man, not a businessman, more facts surrounding the business arrangement with Samsung Electronics have come to light than qualitative information about the music it contains. With a dream-team production crew of Pharrell, Timbaland, Swizz Beats and even Rick Rubin in tow, it was almost a given that sonically […]


J. Cole, Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane and More Added to Rock the Bells Line-Up

Last month at a press conference in Hollywood, promoter Guerilla Union announced the initial line-up of artists for the 2013 Rock the Bells festival. This week at New York City’s Highline Ballroom, a slew of additional artists were announced, and more will likely be added in the coming weeks. Among the notable names are up-and-comers, legends and a few eye-brow raising choices that are likely unfamiliar to most hip-hop fans. […]


Wale “The Gifted”– Album Review

Maybach Music Group (2013)

For all those quick to dismiss his talent, let’s consider that Wale has come the farthest of any Washington D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area rapper. Sure, the DMV area hasn’t exactly been a hotbed for rap talent (whether Def Jam-signed Logic can change that is to be determined). But Wale has overcome many odds to allow his music a platform to be heard. From being championed by hip-hop websites early in his career […]


J. Cole “Born Sinner” – Album Review

Roc Nation (2013)

If you’ve seen Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, chances are you missed J. Cole’s cameo. At the time that festival was filmed in Brooklyn, Jermaine Cole was still just a St. John’s University student who had yet to be signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, had yet to release his acclaimed mixtapes. He wasn’t on the stage as an opening act, either; the lanky Cole was smack dab in the middle of […]


Kanye West “Yeezus” — Album Review

Def Jam Records (2013)

No matter how much he irks some people with his antics, Kanye West has made a solid living with his over-the-top persona. He’s the reached the level of being a spectacle and naturally, he’s taken that fact and run with it in his new album, fittingly titled Yeezus. At a compact 10 tracks with a total running time of just over 40 minutes, Kanye delivers a raw, uncompromising avant-garde work […]


Problem “The Separation (Hosted by DJ Drama)”–Mixtape Review

Diamond Lane Music Group (2013)

Late last year, 2 Chainz headlined a concert at the House of Blues Sunset Strip the same night that Compton rapper Problem performed down the street at the now-defunct Key Club. Conventional thinking would suggest that 2 Chainz would pull the crowd at Problem’s expense since the Def Jam rapper is a superstar while Problem, with a mere pair of charting hits to his name (“Toe Up” and E-40’s “Function”), […]


Aceyalone “Leanin’ On Slick” — Album Review

Decon Records (2013)

If TV One’s “Unsung” was adapted for hip-hop, Aceyalone and the Freestyle Fellowship would deserve to be the first artists to feature. Mainstream recognition never came to Acey and his cohorts – and not that they ever attempted to compromise their music. Still, his influence and the respect he commands from the L.A. underground hip-hop faithful is immense. Emerging from the Good Life Café/Project Blowed in south central Los Angeles’ […]

devil is tryin

The White Mandingos “The Ghetto Is Tryna Kill Me” — Album Review

Fat Beats Records (2013)

Parody rap has a place in the marketplace (see: Lonely Island). On the surface, The White Mandingos would suggest it is a project in the same vein. Comprised of L.A. indie rap hero Murs, Bad Brains guitarist Daryl Jenifer and ego trip co-founder and writer Sacha Jenkins, the oxymoronic name the trio have chosen as their name suggests a lighthearted, off-the-wall approach. In some ways, it is that, but in […]

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