Hip Hop

Rap Album One (CD)

It's tough for some to remain behind the scenes. Stones Throw signee Jonwayne has been a producer first and foremost, collaborating with the likes of Flying Lotus, but as the man himself says on his Facebook page, he's "a rapper and producer who refuses to give up either one." So Rap Album One is actually Jonwayne's third album and his first as an MC, and damn if he doesn't own it. His deep timbre lends extra gravitas to his rhymes on tracks like "You Can Love Me When I'm Dead," while other times he's goofing around on some nerd-rap vibes, rapping about juniper, Hermes and The Matrix on "Find Me in the Future." Meanwhile, his production remains top-notch, slow and menacing on "You Can Love Me When I'm Dead," big and open-hearted on "The Come Up Pt. 1," and mind-bending on "Pt. 2." Sure, everyone wants to be a star. Luckily for Jonwayne, he seems to be able to do it all.

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7 Days Of Funk (CD)

In the words of the Holy Ghost of Funk, Bootsy Collins: "Well glory be! The funk's on me!" 7 Days of Funk's debut EP is a revelatory event for for fans of and freaks for The Funk, and should be particularly pleasing for those whose funk du jour is syrup-thick mid-tempo boogie-funk seasoned heavy with synthesizers a la Yarborough & Peoples or Zapp. This latter strain of funk has seen a resurgence in recent years, aided in large part by Angeleno Dam-Funk who makes up half of 7 Days of Funk's funknamic duo. Who's the other half? None other than the Doggfather himself, Snoop aka Snoop Lion aka Snoopzilla for this release, in an explicit homage to the Bootsman. Snoop has flirted with throwback funkestries on previous releases and is responsible for the global dispersal of the G-funk sound, but never before has be given himself so wholeheartedly to the funkmersive concerns expressed on this EP. Easily transcending the side-project ghetto, 7 Days of Funk is two major voices in contemporary music, subsuming their individual identities into something new and simply huge. A match made in funk heaven.

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Lord Steppington (CD)

As the Step Brothers, Evidence and Alchemist present another stellar musical achievement, Lord Steppington, which delivers lyric-driven, punchline-heavy and intricate rhymes.

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My Krazy Life (CD)
My Krazy Life announces the arrival of the next great West Coast rapper as the region continues its resurgence in hip-hop. Together with his longtime producer DJ Mustard, YG makes an incredibly likable debut that collects from the best of West Coast rap—“Really Be (Smokin and Drinkin),” featuring critic fave Kendrick Lamar, is G-funk gold. It’s full of slow-rolling beats and tweaked-out synths that YG raps hilariously, yet darkly over—“Woke up this morning, I had a boner” is a jokey opening line, but the song quickly evolves, exploring inner-city circumstances—“if I ain’t bringin’ home that money, my whole family is fucked,” he says. Just as appealing are the album’s party songs. “I Just Want to Party,” with Schoolboy Q, sneaks lyrics about the realities of gang-banging into its booty-bouncing swing, and “Left, Right” is an irresistible jammer that brings back fond memories of MTV-friendly hip-hop, a throwback to the early-to-mid aughts that’s already blown up, thanks to DJ Mustard’s danceable beat and YG’s engaging cadence. Though it isn’t as distinctive as the work of some of his contemporaries, YG’s My Krazy Life delivers on the kind of hip-hop that people have been missing for years. Read more