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Posted inArts & Culture

Psalm One

On her Rhymesayers debut, The Death of Frequent Flyer, local MC Psalm One demonstrates a remarkable fluidity–she changes moods like they were clothes, though her easygoing swagger is recognizable no matter the outfit. On “Rapper Girls” she decapitates female MCs with lines like “Never be more than that girl who raps good for a girl […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Mr. Lif

Mr. Lif’s congested, sandpapery voice and El-P’s cataclysmic production both commit aggravated assault on the eardrums, and on Lif’s new Mo’ Mega (Def Jux) they make an intimidating pair. This time El-P backs off from his customary otherworldly density, trying sparser, more industrial textures–steely electric guitars, jittery percussion, corroded keyboard sounds–that if anything make his […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Prefuse 73, Edan

PREFUSE 73’s new Security Screenings (Warp) is as much a clinic as an album. Few hip-hop producers, mainstream or underground, are capable of creating such dense sampladelic patchworks–Scott Herren not only nicks from a sprawling range of genres, somehow making every chopped-up bit fit snugly among the others, but constructs his tracks so that they […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Murs

Of all the one-MC-one-producer collaborations I’ve heard in recent years–MF Doom and Danger Mouse, Aceyalone and Rjd2, Common and Kanye–Murs and 9th Wonder have the most natural chemistry. On the new Murray’s Revenge (Record Collection), their second full-length, 9th’s lilting, soul-driven beats set a mellow mood that lets Murs’s confrontational, self-revelatory rhymes pull you in […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Treatment

Friday 14 SIMA BINA One of Iran’s greatest folksingers, Sima Bina specializes in the traditional music of Khorasan, the region of northeast Iran where she was born and raised. But she’s also spent years traveling and collecting songs from other regions that were in danger of disappearing–both because the oral tradition has suffered a general […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Dilated Peoples

In the PR for 20/20 (ABB/Capitol), MC and producer Evidence says the Dilated Peoples approached the new album like they were making a bunch of 12-inches: “We weren’t worried about how it was going to connect and if we had two love songs and one party song,” he explains. Thank the Lord. Given that the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Asamov

I gave this Florida crew’s debut, And Now . . . (6 Hole), the number-eight spot on my 2005 top-ten list, but I should’ve put it higher up–maybe even above Kanye and all his Grammys. It’s the best feel-good hip-hop to come out in the past couple years–less a get-up-and-shake-it record than the kind of […]

Posted inArts & Culture

GZA & DJ Muggs

The best moments on the new Grandmasters (Angeles Records), a collaboration between GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan and Cypress Hill producer DJ Muggs, are like flashbacks to when I was a pimply teenager listening to Liquid Swords too loud and driving too fast. Muggs does his best impersonation of RZA circa 1995, looping single-word samples […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Treatment

Friday 10 LEE BOYS This family sextet from Florida comes out of the sacred steel tradition–a black Pentacostal tradition of using steel guitar in church services. Reworking that sound and putting pedal steel up front, the Lee Boys have been picked up by secular listeners, packing ’em in at festivals around the country. Last year’s […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Treatment

Friday 27 BAKELITE 78 This local five-piece acoustic act takes its name from 78-rpm records and Bakelite, the plastic that was occasionally used to make them. They’re playing the Hideout to celebrate their self-released debut, It’s a Sin, a fantastic collection of old-timey music played in dedicatedly retro fashion. Not that front man Robert Rial […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Peanut Butter Wolf

For me, listening to a Peanut Butter Wolf mix is like eating at an Indian buffet: everything’s delicious, but half the time I have no idea what it is. (Doubly embarrassing, since I’m not just a music writer but part Indian too.) In fairness, Wolf doesn’t exactly make it easy to follow along–his recent holiday […]