Andre Afram Asmar - Harmonic Emergency

Andre Afram Asmar debuted on Mush in 2003 with Racetothebottom, an album that people noticed for its eclectic mix of hip hop dub, Middle Eastern, and Latin American music. He tried to put together another album, but battled a debilitating aneurysm. It was a tragic setback, but he persevered. After years of hard work, Asmar finally has his follow-up record. Harmonic Emergency starts with the same ingredients that Racetothebottom used. Asmar’s preference is to work with live musicians, and then apply dub and hip hop production techniques to develop the final product.

Talib Kweli - Gutter Rainbows

Less than a year after the release of his collaboration with Hi-Tek on the second Reflections Eternal album, Brooklyn emcee Talib Kweli returns with his fourth solo album. It was originally planned to be a digital release, but he heard the cry of die-hard fans who wanted a physical copy, and responded with a limited edition release. I think the most fitting place to begin discussion of this album is the song “Palookas,” which features the line “You ain’t got a verse better than my worse one.

The Insane Warrior - We Are The Doorways

We’ve already seen a lot of sides of the artist known as RJD2. We’ve seen him produce hip hop records with old soul records, take apart and reconstruct rock records, write songs on guitar, and write electronic dance records. He’s collaborated with numerous artists. For all we’ve seen though, RJ shows us that he’s not done exploring his musical influences and trying new ideas. For his latest project he tries something new - an alter ego.

Verbal Kent - Save Yourself

Chicago emcee Verbal Kent has been on his grind for about ten years. He’s never really bothered with pushing himself on a national level, preferring instead to carve out a small niche. On his sixth solo album, he’s enlisted Pete Rock, Masta Ace, Sadat X, One Be Lo, and Apollo Brown, among others. From the beginning of the album, I thought I’d be conflicted about this album. The opening track, “Same,” produced by Kelakovski, never comes together.

IV the Polymath - Push IVward EP

Muncie, Indiana-based Producer IV the Polymath has been around for a few years, as a solo artist and as one half of the group with the emcee Jondis. He originally started as a multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, piano, and drums. Only in recent years has he moved into the realm of beat making, but it’s through a combination of live instrumentation and drum machines and sampling that IV was able to find his voice.

Zero Star - The Ink Pen Method

Zero Star is an artist from Columbus, Ohio. He has been around for several years, with a strong solo album under his belt, but most have still slept on him. He’s hoping the word will spread in 2011. To help in that endeavor he’s given us a free three-song download to whet our appetites before we get an EP, and then ultimately, his sophomore solo album. First things first though – The Ink Pen Method.

Various Artists - Renegades of Bump: Ritmos Kovos dalis.2

Like many Americans, I have to plead ignorance when it comes to Lithuania. I’m not that familiar with the history or culture. I’m even less familiar with the music of the region. However, this compilation gives me a reason to be excited for Lithuania as a creative space. I might not know much now, but I hope to change that in the future. First, the bad news: There was a volume one that I slept on last year.

Coco Bryce - Boesoek

After releasing an EP last year with Lowriders Collective, the talent of this Dutch producer was apparent. His unique blend of hip hop, dubstep, and skwee (a new subgenre of electronic music emerging in Europe) quickly allowed him to establish himself as an individual artist. The only question left was whether or not he was up to the challenge of producing a full-length album. With Boesoek, it is apparent that Bryce is more than up to it.

Various Artists - The Boogie

If you are like me, you were turned on to Tokyo Dawn Records last year with their release of Opolopo’s Voltage Controlled Feelings. It was a fantastic and fun record full of retro electro-boogie. Where you do you go from there as a listener? Fortunately for us, Tokyo Dawn presented us with The Boogie. Clocking in at just under seventy-four minutes and eighteen tracks, The Boogie is packed full of music to broaden your horizons.

Iz-Real & Icky Slick - The Izslickulus Package?

This EP is the collaboration between Atlanta-based emcees and a British producer named Dredi. I’m unfamiliar with these artists, but I’m definitely interested in hearing some hip hop out of Atlanta that sets itself apart from all of the major label artists right now. The first track immediately brought to mind MF Doom and Curse Ov Dialect, which promised several possibilities for this project. Iz-Real and Icky Slick both come on the first track, “Izzy Icky,” and demonstrate verbal prowess and playfulness, which along with a call-back to A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It?