DJ Kayslay & Greg Street
"The Champions: The North Meets the South" (Koch)
mixtape slams so hard even Fat Joe rides like a playa (Remy Ma & Razah, "One and Only [My Boo]"; Papoose, Remy Ma & Hell Rell, "The Hardest Out").
Santa Fe supernerd drops science, literature and his home-ec homework over
jacked beats from the classical canon to the Doors to "Hernando's Hideaway"
("Androids' Alphabet," "WWIII").
"The Road Less Traveled" (Glenna Bell)
Slightly sketchy ZZ Top fan unlooses her folkie chains ("Outside the Bars,"
"The Texas Aggies Win Again").
"Starlito's Way II" (Grind
Beat-equipped Houston overachiever awaits a stardom he's too
late for on the mixtape grind ("My Life," "Living Will").
"New Amerykah: Part One (4th World War)"
When your funk is this futuristic, not to say abstract,
astrology and Farrakhan sound old, not to say ignorant ("The Cell," "Amerykahn
"Waco Express: Live & Kickin' at Schuba's Tavern Chicago"
Old songs for the long haul and damn the consequences ("Plenty
Tuff Union Made," "Blink of an Eye").
The Service Industry
"Ranch Is the New French" (Buildgut)
Wage servitude and
the righteous haters who are stuck in it -- the lowdown ("The Drudge,"
"Wonderful Waitress," "Cook and Clean").
"Venus on Earth" (M80)
Less Cambodian and more indie rock,
a good thing for everybody concerned except Asian pop fanciers ("Sober Driver,"
"The Show" (M3)
Masta Ace's theoretical supergroup
displays its modestly conscious wares at concept concert complete with skits
that add laughs and advance the plot ("We Alright," "The Show").
"Belly of the Beast: The Scram Jones Files" (Def
Gangsta realist's mixtape ain't his urban-legend debut, but it's
tough, it's smart and it jams ("New York Streets," "Nobody Cares").
"Everywhere at Once" (Anti-)
"Hella" good rapper swears
that this album he'll break out, and then, unfortunately, writes album about it
("Whispers," "Do You Buy It").
"Asking for Flowers" (Zoë)
I know she worked on these
songs for three years, but writing slow doesn't mean you have to sing that way
("The Cheapest Key," "Asking for Flowers").
The Service Industry
"Limited Coverage" (Sauspop)
A little night music about
too many day jobs ("They Fired Me," "Have to Go to Work").
Del the Funkee Homosapien
"11th Hour" (Def Jux)
"Cleverness will never get you
anywhere bitch" ("Last Hurrah," "Hold Your Hand").
"Reality Check" (XL)
Imagine a shallower, less soulful,
altogether French-er Art Brut, two years ago when they were fresh ("Homecoming,"
"Life in Cartoon Motion" (Casablanca)
Emotion in extremis
from pop formalist who straddles several middles ("Big Girl [You Are
Beautiful]," "Happy Ending").
At long last Larry Kirwan finds a subject
it's impossible to overdo -- or anyway, almost impossible ("Battle of Fallujah,"
"Downtown Baghdad Blues").
The Bird and the Bee
("Please Clap Your Hands" [Metro Blue])
"Back to Me"
("Back to Me" [Zoë])
King Khan & the Shrines
Be a Girl"
("What Is?!" [Hazelwood])