Cage - Depart From Me

These days, I try to remind myself that Hell’s Winter is a really good album and it was before that idiot Shia LeBouf started championing Cage as his favorite and said he was going to make and star in a biopic about him. It had been a while since that album had come out now, though, and I was curious to see what he had in store for a follow up.

Various Artists - Definitive Jux Presents 4

So for a short time there, it seemed like this was going to be a yearly event, a sort of State-of-the-Union album from one of underground hip hop’s hottest labels. Well, after the third one, I guess they got distracted, ‘cause we hadn’t heard one in quite a few years. The most important thing about the DJP series is that it provided a place to collect good singles that didn’t have a home on an album but needed an audience.

Dälek - Gutter Tactics

I’ve never really gotten into Dälek before. The experimental Jersey duo who have been putting out albums since 1998, and upon listening to this album, it quickly becomes clear to me why I’ve never connected to their music. The opening track, “Blessed Are They Who Bash Your Children’s Head Against A Rock,” is sure to stir up emotions as a slow, ominous, pulsing beat builds while Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s speech discusses race and international relations in the United States.

J Dilla - Dillanthology Volume 1

So it doesn’t appear we’re anywhere close to running out of tributes, unreleased material and anthologies for the late J Dilla. Considering how much music he produced in his short life, I’m not really surprised. Nor am I complaining. The nice thing about the compilation is that it gives a decent cross section of different artists he worked with. Some of the tracks work perfectly (Common’s “The Light” and Erykah Badu’s “Didn’t Cha Know”), and some of them not quite as well (Busta Rhyme’s “Show Me What You Got” or Frank n Dank’s “Okay”), but they all highlight what made J Dilla worth celebrating.

J Dilla - Dillanthology Volume 2

Following up the first anthology of Dilla’s production for other artists, Rapster Records comes back with a collection of remixes that Dilla did across his career. Unfortunately, the collection starts off with two tracks that he produced originally, “Stakes is High” by De La Soul and “Y? (Be Like That)” by the Pharcyde, and they don’t vary that much from the original version. I’m not quite sure the reasoning behind this approach other than these are two of the better known artists on this volume.

J Dilla - Dillanthology Volume 3

The third installment in the Dillanthology series, this collection focuses on releases from Dilla’s solo material. It opens with “Workinonit” from Donuts, which would have to be in competition for my favorite album of all time. If you’ve ever wondered what the fuss about Dilla is, you haven’t put in any quality time with Donuts. Do yourself a favor and do it. Next up, we get “Pause,” from his 2001 release, Welcome 2 Detroit.

Diplo - Decent Work For Decent Pay

This compilation put together by Diplo that is there mostly to showcase his own work and artists he has worked with really leaves listeners wanting. I realize it’s a little tricky with trying to figure out who the audience for this collection is, which is probably why he decided to lead off the album with a track from his excellent solo album, Florida, “Newsflash,” and then his remix of M.I.A.’s big crossover hit, “Paper Planes.

DOOM - Born Like This

I feel like I need to preface this review by stating that I never bought into the cult of Doom. While I enjoyed Madvillain and some other tracks he did here and there, I never got the devotion of his fans who are so quick to declare his genius. That said, most of the time when I listen to an entire album of Doom, I can’t help but notice all of his shortcomings.

Eyedea & Abilities - By The Throat

Emcee Eyedea and DJ Abilities are well known for coming up through the battle circuits, and for that their sound always seemed to retain that edge. They could switch things up and experiment a little, but you always knew that you were messing with someone who could spit rhymes quicker than you and someone who could scratch better than you could ever hope to. E&A, their 2004 release, really established them on the scene and gave us great songs like, “Now,” “Man Vs.

El Michael's Affair - Enter the 37th Chamber

In case you missed it, El Michael’s Affair, a band made up of musicians from other New York soul revival outfits like the Mighty Imperials and The Dap Kings, has been putting in time as the Wu Tang Clan’s live backing band. In person, they are fantastic, and it really adds to the energy of the show and allows for some back and forth between emcees and musicians. On the heels of this foray into the world of Wu Tang, El Michael has decided to record an album of Wu Tang instrumentals.