Georgia Anne Muldrow & Declaime - Someothaship

Declaime (Dudley Perkins) and Georgia Anne Muldrow have worked together before, but I’m not sure if their collaboration has quite come together like this before. Hip hop with the psychedelic funk edge of someone like Sly and the Family Stone or Parliament-Funkadelic, this Bay Area duo really work well together. While Declaime is up front on the mic as an emcee, with his unique smooth, slightly off-kilter sing-song delivery, Muldrow produces much of the album, provides backing vocals, choruses, and even drops a few killer verses.

Grieves - The Confessions of Mr. Modest

Sometimes I’m more upset when artists are mediocre than when they’re terrible. Case in point: Grieves. Truth is, I’ve listened to this album and 88 Keys and Counting several times, but I really can’t tell you much more about them. The voice, lyrics, and music are all forgettable. At least when someone is terrible or is frustrating, it’s meant enough to me to get me all worked up. I keep trying to get worked up about Grieves, but I never remember what happened after I finish listening to the album.

Donwill - Don Cusack in High Fidelity

I had to pick up this album on concept alone. A hip hop album based on High Fidelity? It’s an interesting enough concept and I’m a big enough fan of both the book and movie that I’m going to give this album a fair chance. I don’t know too much about Donwill’s group Tanya Morgan, so I can’t give you too much insight as to where this fits into their discography.

Bonobo - Black Sands

Bonobo, the British producer and DJ, has flown somewhat under the radar, even though he’s been recording for over ten years. Hopefully, Black Sands will develop his popularity. It’s a wonderful down tempo album that feels warm and familiar upon first listen. It opens with a quiet piece featuring strings and piano and minimal percussion. Then, the drums and bass kick in as a gentle yet driving beat takes over and sets the tone.

Madlib - Medicine Show No. 2: Flight to Brazil

The second installment in the new Medicine Show series, where we learn that the rules are odd numbered entries are original material, and the even numbered offerings are mixtapes. This particular mixtape is a blend of Brazilian music, from samba to psychedelic. I’m not particularly well-versed in this music, so I can’t break it down for you with each track and artist, but I can tell you it’s a good mix of familiar and unfamiliar, and a good blend of genres.

Madlib - Medicine Show No. 1: Before the Verdict

The first volume in Madlib’s newest series of releases is something of a preview of the O.J. Simpson (Madlib + Guilty Simpson) album coming out later this year. Unfortunately, this mix quickly falls into my least favorite combination in hip hop = good producer with lackluster emcee. Guilty Simpson is something of a trite gangsta rapper, but doesn’t even have much in the way of delivery to make it interesting. His delivery is slow and clumsy, and he often says things that makes me cringe.

Gil Scott-Heron - I'm New Here

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Gil Scott-Heron, as he’s spent the past few years sorting out personal and legal issues. When you’re dealing with a unique talent like Scott-Heron, though, it’s always worth the wait. The musician’s forays into jazz, blues, r&b, funk, and spoken-word poetry made him one of the most influential pre-hip hop artists. He’s come back with a moving and personal album. Working with Richard Russell, he’s concocted a type of minimal elctro-blues that allows the weight of his words to really come across.

Galactic- ya-ka-may

I’ve always felt good that I got into Galactic at the ground floor, because they’ve had such a rich and rewarding musical career so far. The New Orleans-based funk group have built up a fan base throughout the years and have grown musically the longer they’ve been together, bringing in elements of jazz, R&B, funk, hip hop, blues, New Orleans brass bands, and basically anything else they might get their hands on.

Freeway & Jake One - The Stimulus Package

First things first, this album has some of the sweetest packaging I’ve ever seen. It comes in a freakin’ billfold, people! Seriously, it’s tight. Now, onto the music. Jake One’s reputation a producer from the Seattle scene precedes itself. He’s hooked up with everyone from De La Soul to G-Unit. Freeway has had an interesting career path, starting out as a Roc-a-Fella protégé. I heard a song or two, and had somewhat written him off.

Strong Arm Steady - In Search of Stoney Jackson

Strong Arm Steady have been around the L.A. scene for a while, and are mostly known for their association with X-Zibit. Frankly, after listening to this album, all I can help think is that they are very lucky they have successful and talented friends. The entire album is produced by Madlib, who has one of the strongest track records in hip hop, and doesn’t disappoint here. The beats are interesting, soulful, laid back and sound great pounding through your car speakers.