Category Archives: Reviews

Review: Chiddy Bang, “The Preview”

Chiddy Bang, The Preview Virgin Records Chiddy Bang broke out the blog rap ghetto with “Opposite of Adults,” an ace reimagining of MGMT’s “Kids.” Rapper Chiddy and producer Xaphoon Jones attempt similar magic on The Preview, from flipping Passion Pit’s … Continue reading

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Review: Skyzoo & Illmind, “Live From The Tape Deck”

Skyzoo & Illmind, Live From The Tape Deck Duck Down Live from the Tape Deck, a collaboration between rapper Skyzoo and producer Illmind, is not only a throwback to classical values, but also a metaphor for “doing the right thing,” … Continue reading

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High on arrival: Curren$y, “Pilot Talk”

High on arrival Curren$y strikes one up for traditionalism on Pilot Talk If hip-hop is jazz, then Curren$y can be described as a traditionalist. His debut album, Pilot Talk, is pure braggadocio, with rhymes about fancy cars and free-flowing liquor … Continue reading

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Why Eminem still matters

This post represents a shift from how I programmed Plug One in the past. Before, I wouldn’t imagine adding a piece about a mainstream artist. But times have changed. Plug One isn’t designed to represent everything I write, but it … Continue reading

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Review: Ski Beatz, “24 Hour Karate School”

Ski Beatz, 24 Hour Karate School DD172 Ski Beatz’ 24 Hour Karate School arrives months after his triumphant production for Curren$y’s acclaimed Pilot Talk. But even the NY veteran famed for his work on Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt can’t overcome a … Continue reading

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Review: Shlohmo, “Shlohmoshun Deluxe”

Shlohmo, Shlomoshun Deluxe Friends Of Friends Henry “Shlohmo” Laufer is one of the more promising new jacks of the L.A. electronic explosion. Although he hasn’t developed a unique signature yet — which seems key to surviving as a producer, or … Continue reading

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Review: Daedelus, “Righteous Fists Of Harmony”

Daedelus, Righteous Fists of Harmony Brainfeeder According to its press materials, Daedelus’ mini-album Righteous Fists of Harmony attempts to “bridge the demise of the magic-inspired martial arts fighters of the Boxer Rebellion to the post modern malady of technology and … Continue reading

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Review: Jneiro Jarel, “Android Love Mayhem”

Jneiro Jarel, Android Love Mayhem Alpha Pup Records Jneiro Jarel, who has recently garnered attention for his remix work with TV on the Radio and Maximum Balloon, only recently moved to Los Angeles, but his expansive approach to beat production … Continue reading

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Review: Take, “Only Mountain”

Take, Only Mountain Alpha Pup Thomas “Take” Wilson is frequently mistaken as a rookie, but his career actually dates back to the early 2000s and encompasses several under-appreciated works, including 2007’s Earthtones & Concrete. He has developed a highly distinct … Continue reading

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Review: The Glitch Mob, “Drink The Sea”

The Glitch Mob, Drink the Sea Glass Air Records Since the middle of the 2000s, The Glitch Mob have taken bass music to the extreme, banging out synthesized jams that bounce like a hip-hop version of Giorgio Moroder. Drink the … Continue reading

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Review: Baths, “Cerulean”

Baths, Cerulean Anticon Will “Baths” Wiesenfeld’s debut album leaps from style to style, from Four Tet-inspired folktronica (“Aminals”) to Autechre’s early experiments in ghostly arpeggios (“?”). It contains allusions to L.A. such as Daedelus and Flying Lotus, and the sound … Continue reading

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Review: Exile, “Radio: AM/FM”

Exile, Radio: AM/FM Plug Research On his 2009 album, Radio, Exile (producer for Fashawn and Blu, among others) tried to replicate a radio listening session, even interspersing frequency noise and snippets of pop hits amidst loping instrumentals. Radio: AM/FM is … Continue reading

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Review: MF Doom, “Expektoration Live”

MF Doom, Expektoration Live Gold Dust Media Expektoration Live captures a MF Doom concert at B.B. King’s in New York. Judging from the track list, which draws heavily from Operation Doomsday, his Madvillain project and MM…Food, the gig took place … Continue reading

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Review: Atmosphere, “To All My Friends, Blood Makes The Blade Holy”

Atmosphere, To All My Friends, Blood Makes The Blade Holy Rhymesayers Entertainment Slug may never get recognized as one of hip-hop’s greatest storytellers, but he deserves to be. The Minneapolis rapper excels at the confessional, rhyming first-person narratives so vivid … Continue reading

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Street Sweeper Social Club, “The Ghetto Blaster EP”

Street Sweeper Social Club, The Ghetto Blaster EP SSSC/ILG Tom Morello writes some of the best intros in modern hard rock, and Boots Riley from the Coup is an ace satirist. And when both click on The Ghetto Blaster EP, … Continue reading

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Shawn Jackson, “Brand New Old Me”

Shawn Jackson, Brand New Old Me Tres Records Shawn Jackson’s second album riffs on underground striver themes: surviving the mean streets of “Lah City,” toking on “purple swishas,” taking “Starget Practice,” and going on “T!LT.” The beats explore well-worn niches, … Continue reading

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The Roots’ lost paradise

This essay on the Roots’ How I Got Over was posted July 14 on Rhapsody.com’s Music Stuff Place blog. I wrote it for my Rap Is Not Pop column. Last week, I promised that I would abandon the concepts that … Continue reading

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Marco Polo, “The Stupendous Adventures Of Marco Polo”

Marco Polo, The Stupendous Adventures Of Marco Polo Duck Down Records It seems counterintuitive for rising producer Marco Polo to turn The Stupendous Adventures of Marco Polo into a platform for dozens of MCs. But Marco Polo isn’t an instrumental … Continue reading

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TOKiMONSTA, “Cosmic Intoxication”

TOKiMONSTA, Cosmic Intoxication Ramp Recordings Jennifer “Tokimonsta” Lee has waded into a teeming L.A. beat scene with her Cosmic Intoxication debut. So give her praise for excelling at production fundamentals and spinning a cool vibe on this 21-minute EP. Her … Continue reading

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Onra, “Long Distance”

Onra, Long Distance All City Records The key to Onra’s third album, Long Distance, is the heavy boogie rhythm of “My Comet.” Released as a 7-inch on All City Records two years ago, it sounded uncharacteristic of the French-Vietnamese producer’s … Continue reading

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