Hip Hop

The Impossible Kid (CD)

Indie-rapper Aesop Rock opens up about his personal life, going deep on topics like depression, family, and the turbulent years that led him to leave San Francisco to live in a barn out in the woods, where he recorded the foundations of this album.

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1983-1988 (CD)

He of relentless hi-hats, campy Egyptian lore and robot voices comes at us in this non-stop party of a compilation. “EGYPT IS THE PLACE TO BE!!” Yes! “PYRAMIDS ARE OH SO SHINY!” If you say so! Who cares? We’re listening to king of the 808 Egyptian Lover and our sarcophaguses won’t stop shaking. Freaky Afroretrofuturistic electro jams from one of hip hop’s originators that rock from the tomb to the outer limits.

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PeteStrumentals 2 (CD)
Everything you’d expect from a Pete Rock album. Instant classic. Read more
Link Up & Suede [EP] (CD)

Singer Anderson .Paak partners with producer Knxledge for this delicious EP that takes vintage soul samples, chews them up and spits out recombinant future-leaning R&B. Don’t sleep on Anderson .Paak’s excellent Malibu either!

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Time? Astonishing! (CD)
L'Orange & Kool Keith set out to make something absurd, yet traditional. The album is a loose tale of a time traveler who moves forward through time, settling in the future and living as he would normally. The album seems to imply that adventure is only a step away, but never seems to reach that point. Read more
Detroit's Son (CD)
Personally my favorite hip hop album this year. Every single person that I’ve played this for freaks out and buys it immediately. You should do the same. I’m a sucker for a gritty baritone. Throw some tense yet hypnotic beats in and I’m good for days. This is a no brainier. Read more
The Doc 2 / 2.5 [Collector's Edition] (CD)

With Dr. Dre back at the production helm and Game sounding more energized than he has in years, The Documentary 2 indeed lives up to the first volume, which was a West Coast rap classic. With killer guest spots from Drake and Kendrick Lamar, Game sails on some throwback vibes while rapping circles around his young followers.

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The Chronic [Remastered] (CD)

Before he was more often known as a producer, Dr. Dre unleashed this gangsta rap classic. 1992’s The Chronic solidified Dre’s position in the public spotlight. His raps about sex, drugs, violence, and the politics of South Central Los Angeles are unforgetable, but it’s the melding of hip-hop, jazz, funk, and soul that makes this album a classic.

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Aa (CD)

Baauer’s long awaited debut album sets out to change contemporary American dance music. Aa is a record that could only be made by a kid born in New York inspired by rap and dance music culture, traveling the globe sampling and processing found sounds.

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To Pimp A Butterfly (CD)

Kendrick Lamar’s breakthrough second album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, left such an impression that hype for a follow-up has been through the roof. So forgive the Compton rapper if he kind of Beyonce’d To Pimp a Butterfly, teasing singles before announcing a release date and suddenly putting it out a week early. Pulling the rug out from hype and inevitable backlash, it gives us a change to all hear To Pimp a Butterfly at once, in all its glory. Butterfly doubles down on the idiosyncracies of good kid, eschewing club-friendly tracks in favor of those that cast a light on Lamar’s pure skills as a rapper and wordsmith—always celebrated, yet perhaps distracted by stellar production and good kid’s concept-album style—as well as his ability to put together a layered and compelling album. Tracks like the “For Free” interlude are showcases for Lamar’s dexterity, while “u’s” desperate, verge-on-tears delivery find him at his most vulnerable —Drake’s never done anything like this. The production across To Pimp a Butterfly, courtesy of such luminaries as Flying Lotus and Thundercat, like those artists’ work (and similarly to D’Angelo’s recently released Black Messiah), effortlessly melds hip-hop, R&B and jazz on excellent tracks like the off-kilter “Institutionalized” and gorgeous “These Walls” to exist in some mystery middle space, without drawing attention away from Lamar’s star power. While headier tracks dominate the album, Lamar unleashes a couple of huge singles at the album’s closing. At first, “i” could come off as Lamar’s “sell out” track, catchy enough to sit alongside Pharrell’s “Happy” as a crowd-friendly that sands off his rough edges, but it serves as a bit of a breather here, dressed up in The Isley Brothers’ unstoppable “Who’s That Lady,” though Lamar’s lyrics remain deeply dark, exposing his own depression, and a spoken word passage that delves into a discussion on racial slurs adds context. Following the reclaiming of racial stereotypes on the absolutely killer “The Blacker the Berry,” To Pimp a Butterfly ends ultimately feeling conflicted yet triumphant. It’s a deep, complicated work, yet not one that feels the slightest bit overstuffed or overwrought. Kendrick Lamar successfully defies all expectations yet again, on what’s sure to be one of the year’s best albums.

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