Open Mike Eagle - Rappers Will Die Of Natural Causes

One of my favorite experiences of listening to a new record is that rare moment when you put an album for the very first time, and you immediately feel like you’ve known that record for years. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s special. That’s how I felt the first time I listened to Rappers Will Die Of Natural Causes. Open Mike Eagle has a few releases under his belt and is part of the newest generation of Project Blowed emcees.

Sahy Uhns - An Intolerant Disdain For Underlings

Sahy Uhns is a young beat maker from L.A. who has just helped launch Proximal Records, a label devoted to releasing electonic and instrumental hip hop from the area. An Intolerant Disdain of Underlings marks his debut album, released alongside a book of photographs of the California desert that served as inspiration for the music. Using everything from field recordings to synthesizers and custom software on this album, we move from hard-hitting beats that will push your speakers to their limits to moments of quiet repose.

DTMD - Makin' Dollas

What’s in a name? Sometimes there’s not a lot to it, other times a name can speak volumes. In the case of D.C. duo DTMD, the name is an obstacle that simply can’t be ignored. Any hip hop head can tell you that the name is directly taken from EPMD, the duo of Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith, a group that made their mark in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

Black Milk and Danny Brown - Black & Brown

I’m about to wave a white flag with Black Milk. After releasing Album of the Year, a record which was a great leap ahead in his career both as producer and emcee, I was looking forward to see where he was going to go from there. Since then, it’s been a several steps backward. Recently it was the extremely disappointing Random Axe album with Guilty Simpson and Sean Price, now it’s Black & Brown.

Close to the Edge: In Search of the Global Hip Hop Generation by Sujatha Fernandes

As an Australian born of Indian parents who now serves as Assistant Professor of Sociology at Queens College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, it should come as no surprise that Fernandes would be compelled to write about global culture. In Close to the Edge: In Search of the Global Hip Hop Generation, Fernandes uses her background as an activist and emcee along with her academic skills to inform he observations.

Maggz - Soundscapes: Autumn Selections

2011 has been a busy year for Maggz. After producing Zero Star’s Don’t Look Now EP and releasing Maggnetic Opposites, a solo EP featuring himself as emcee with Optix on prodution, we now get an instrumental EP with Maggz as sole producer and songwriter. Soundscapes: Autumn Selection is a short collection of songs meant to capture the feeling of the current season. Not only would I say that Maggz succeeds, but I’m even more excited to see so many sides of an artist in such a short time.

Brother Ali - Us

I feel like I need to preface anything I write about Brother Ali by saying that I am a huge fan, and his music has meant a great deal to me personally. That said, I also pride myself on being able to objective and taking my heroes to task when the need calls for it. Which is great, because one of the things I love about Ali is that he takes criticism as a challenge and tries to rise up to it.

Villa Rosa - Blue Diamond Island

Blue Diamond Island marks the official debut of Villa Rosa, the collaboration between Minneapolis/St. Paul artists Maria Isa and Muja Messiah. Both have shown moments of great promise with solo releases, but neither have put together a collection of material that’s solid from start to finish. When I heard they were releasing an album together, I thought they might combine their talents to finally realize their potential. Instead, my frustrations with both artists continue.

Illogic & Walter Rocktight - Year 8076

Back in 2005, Illogic was set to release an album on Rhymesayers. The Columbus artist had worked with Blueprint on 2004’s Celestial Clockwork, and had toured with other Rhymesayers artists, so it seemed like a logical expansion of their roster. Illogic went straight to work on a followup to Clockwork, which is an album fairly downtempo and dark in tone. To move away from this sound, Illogic enlisted Walter Rocktight, a fellow Columbus artist and deejay, most well known for his production work on S.

Random Axe - Random Axe

Random Axe is the collaboration between Detroit’s Black Milk and Guilty Simpson, and New York’s Sean Price. Black Milk produced the entire album, which features appearances from Fat Ray, Roc Marciano, Melanie Rutherford, Rock, and Trick Trick. There’s a temptation to call an album like this a super group, but it doesn’t play out as such. I’ll be completely up front and honest before I get started. I’m not the biggest fan of Guilty Simpson and Sean Price, as both have the tendency as emcees to spout rhymes that just reinforce gangsta clichés and fall back on sexist and homophobic insults.