Eulorhythmics - Green St. & Avers

Eulorhythmics is the joint effort of Chicago artists Kenny Keys and MC Adad. I hadn’t heard either of these two before this album, but from my first listen, I was intrigued. They seemed playful and inventive, dropping some interesting beats and heavy bass. There was definitely some West Coast influence here, maybe some Pharcyde or Aceyalone. I dug the beginning of this album and wondered if I could add them to my list of new favorites for 2010.

Homeboy Sandman - The Good Sun

The NYC native known as Homeboy Sandman began releasing music in 2007, and this is already his third album. Listening to him rhyme, I thought about emcees like Eyedea, Buck 65, or Sage Francis. This is partially because of his gruff, rapid-fire delivery, but also because of his smart, sarcastic lyrics. However, I don’t want to paint Sandman into a corner. As I continue listening to this album, I better appreciate how he’s made his own style that still allows for variance.

El-P - Weareallgoingtoburninhellmegamixxx3

Not too long ago, El-P stepped aside as CEO of Definitve Jux to concentrate on making music. In his first major release since that announcement, we are treated to an all instrumental mix from one of hip hop’s premier beat makers. The album won’t knock you over the head the way I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead did, but I don’t believe it is supposed to. It still contains a pervasive dark overtone, as much of his work does.

Gotham Green & Quickie Mart - Haze Diaries Vol. 3

I never heard of Gotham Green & Quickie Mart before I listened to this release. The bad news is that I can’t find a ton of information on them. The good news is that this release made me want to learn more. The first song I heard was “Game Change,” which features Planet Asia, Recalling the Pharcyde, it immediately caught my attention. The song features a great laid-back West Coast vibe and playful rhymes about weed, with good wordplay.

Little Brother - Leftback

While I’m going to try my best to be objective, I need to be up front about this: I wear my Little Brother hoodie just about every day. I’m definitely a fan. Unfortunately, this album is going to be the last Little Brother album, at least for the foreseeable future. After hinting at this possibility after Get Back came out, Phonte and Big Pooh have decided to pursue other projects for the time being.

Rakaa - Crown of Thorns

Rakaa might be the most overlooked member of Dilated Peoples. DJ Babu gets attention as part of the Beat Junkies crew, and fellow emcee Evidence has a couple of solo releases. With Crown of Thorns, Rakaa looks to step out and create an identity for himself. On the first few tracks, which are decent, it’s a bit more of the same in terms of his work with DP, but nothing really stands out.

How To Wreck a Nice Beach: The Vocoder From World War II to Hip Hop by Dave Tompkins

Tompkins certainly picked an interesting topic to cover in his first book. There isn’t a wealth of material out there on the history of the vocoder, an interesting piece of equipment if there ever was one. I was certainly on board with the subject matter, and when someone like Jeff Chang, one of my favorite critics, tells me that Tompkins is the best hip hop writer born, I certainly take notice.

Declaime - Fonk

Going into 2010, I knew very little of Declaime or Georgia Anne Muldrow. As July draws to a close, they are both defining the year in music for me. They put out a great album together, and Muldrow released a stellar solo album on which Declaime was featured. With this release, the journey through smart psychedelic hip hop funk continues. As is quickly becoming a pattern for me, I love the tracks with Muldrow.

Say My Name directed by Nirit Peled

First, a call to action: please watch Nirit Peled’s Say My Name. I caught the 2008 documentary during the film portion of 2009’s SXSW and it was definitely the highlight of the week. Women Make Movies are in the process of getting it out on DVD after the film completes its festival circuit. Save it to your Netflix queue. Lobby your local rental store or library to obtain a copy. Make it a priority to see it.

The Roots - How I Got Over

This is the eighth studio album from Philadelphia legends The Roots. I’ve been looking forward to this album for a while, if only because I was a little let down with The Rising Down. Not that the album was bad, but it didn’t stick with me like The Tipping Point or The Game Theory. How I Got Over starts off slow with a treble a capella group singing dos and dahs as electric piano, bass, and drums are folded in, but it never grows beyond that until we get to the second track.