Atlanta by Michael Schmelling

Michael Schmelling is an esteemed photographer who has published in several magazines and collections, most notably The Wilco Book. Atlanta came about when he was trying to decide on a project to combine music and photography. He considered a project like Tallahassee by the Mountain Goats, but ultimately decided that Aquemini was going to be the inspiration and set out to shoot Atlanta. Schmelling has an excellent eye, and he has presented us with a visually arresting collection of photos to represent Atlanta.

Von Pea - Pea's Gotta Have It

Von Pea is a third of the group Tanya Morgan, and this is his debut solo album. Apparently, the idea behind this album came about when Pea found his journal from high school and he decided to set it to music. The result is an interesting mix of a mature adult making his way as a working musician and a young adolescent trying to sort out all of life’s changes.

The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip Hop by Dan Charnas

People have written about the history of hip hop, and some have folded discussions of its business practices into those narratives, but none have so thoroughly explored the history of the business side of hip hop as Charnas has here. Some of it you have heard before, and some of it you haven’t. Charnas does an excellent job of bringing in as many substantial business practices as he can that influenced the shape of hip hop.

Eternia & MoSS - At Last

Canadian emcee Eternia has been plugging away for several years now, but has yet to make a big splash in the states. Now that I’ve been clued into her talents, I can only hope that her name quickly resonates among hip hop fans everywhere. At Last is her third full-length, and for the project she enlisted fellow Canadian MoSS as producer. He holds the distinction of being the first producer signed to DJ Premier’s Works of Mart production company.

Skyrider - Aux Send Vol. 1

Known as Sole’s backing band since their first album together in 2007, Skyrider was playing as a trio before that, and continue to write and record even when Sole is working on other projects. While we can expect a Sole and the Skyrider Band album next summer, we’ve got a full-length instrumental album to enjoy right now. The album is difficult to pin down, and its eclectic mix of genres does little to help.

Flying Lotus - Pattern + Grid World

After releasing the ambitious full-length Cosmogramma earlier this year, L.A.-based producer Flying Lotus comes right back to give us a seven-song EP. While it may not have the ambition of its predecessor, it’s a solid record any way you slice it. In a relatively short time, Flying Lotus proved he was capable of harnessing a wide array of musical influences. In less than twenty minutes, we’re taken on quite a journey.

Ninja Tune XX presents King Cannibal 'The Way of the Ninja'

Ninja Tune celebrated its twentieth anniversary this year. In that time, they’ve released a variety of experimental hip hop and electronic music and built up a large fan base. The anniversary has been celebrated in many different fashions, from concerts to box sets to books. This is all great, but none hold a candle to what King Cannibal has given us. A relatively new member of the Ninja Tune family, this London-based artist rose to the challenge to take the twenty-year catalogue and condense it into a 74-minute remix.

Moka Only - Martian Xmas 2010

Moka Only might not be a household name in the States, but this Canadian hip hop artist has put out forty records since his debut in the mid-nineties, earning him the nickname “The Most Prolific.” This is the latest installment in a Christmas series he started in 2007. It definitely doesn’t sound like most Christmas albums I’ve come across, and for that I’m grateful. Hailing from Vancouver, Moka has led the way for Canadian West Coast hip hop.

Dãm-Funk - Adolescent Funk

Usually when you get a collection like this, it’s only meant for super-fans who want to claim they have everything the artist ever recorded. It won’t be good, but it might be interesting. You can catch a glimpse of what the artist was going to become. Also, you would wait until several albums into their career and use it to sate fans until the next album. Adolescent Funk does not fit into this mold.

The Left - Gas Mask

The Left consists of producer Apollo Brown on the beats, DJ Soko on the scratches, and Journalist 103 on the mic. Soko and 103 are from Detroit, and Brown is from Grand Rapids. While environment always factors into the sound of an album, I don’t know if I’ve come across and album that’s as specific to its time and place as Gas Mask is to Detroit in 2010. It is no secret that times are tough right now, and now we have the soundtrack.