Hip Hop

The Mountain Will Fall (CD)

On The Mountain Will Fall, DJ Shadow’s first album in five years, the groundbreaking hip-hop/electronica producer proves he’s still one of the most forward-thinking artists in the game. The atmospheric, instrumental title track opens the album with dreamy, futuristic vibes before launching into the funk-inflected “Nobody Speak,” which features Run the Jewels. German ambient/modern classical composer and producer Nils Frahm makes an appearance on “Bergschrund,” where spaced out washes of sound meet hyperactive textures and beats. The LP finds Shadow pushing the limits even further on his own original compositions, but of course half the fun is guest appearances from the previously mentioned artists, as well as avant grade electro dude Bleep Bloop, bass-heavy experimentalist G. Jones, and bright young UK jazz trumpeter Matthew Halsall.

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Best Day Ever (CD)

Mac Miller's Best Day Ever*wasn't just another mixtape some rapper dropped online. It was a sonic boom. Since it's release five years ago, it's been downloaded over a million times and streamed nearly as much. For its fifth anniversary, Rostrum Records is re-releasing the megahit for the first time commercially. Newly mastered and having spent two years clearing the rights for all the samples, Best Day Ever returns as one of the decade's best party albums. Your ear instantly gets addicted to the choppy beats and Mac Miller's adolescent flow that is as raw as it is fun. Mega-single "Donald Trump," made in the days before he was the GOP candidate, is the teenage fantasy created to fuel parties. It's all a facetious romp about the wealth, the women, and the good times Donald Trump has that Mac Miller wants. "In The Air," with its minimal beat that feels like it was composed by Mark Mothersbaugh, embodies what made Pittsburgh hip hop so unique at its time. Even a track like "She Said" has a great funk beat with a rap that comes out so naturally with all the raunchy attitude and crassness of youth. It's unpretentious fun that is all about just kicking back and enjoying yourself. It feels quaint now that he's signed to a major label and has been a huge part of the hip-hop scene, but Best Day Ever feels like the best capsule of earlier times that were as fun then as they are now. Light that joint, spin this record, and just chill

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Kindness For Weakness (CD)

With his third album on Stones Throw, Homeboy Sandman makes b-boy needle scratches, ancient funky rhythms, loops and drum breaks feel wackier and more fun than what a major label artist can do with a dozen producers and a million-dollar studio. Kindness for Weakness is a direct reference to his mantra "mistaking kindness for weakness is a weakness I need to have more kindness for" and just gives you an idea of the personal depth of his album. Directly addressing the stereotypes expected from MCs, societal insecurities, religion and injustices in the world, Homeboy Sandman is particularly scathing in a 2016 in which everything around you feels like it's crumbling. While tracks like "God" and "Eyes" are darker and more direct about his politics and emotions, the real album highlight might be the single "Talking (Bleep)" with it's '50s sci-fi beat and a classic flow that just cuts so cleanly, jumping from topic to topic so that it barely giving you enough time to breathe. Culling from the elite team of Stones Throw producers like Jonwayne, RJD2 and Edan, the album drips with library-sound weirdness and mysterious P-funk that sounds like it was delivered straight from outer space to be blasted directly into your ears.

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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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