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Thursday, Dec 7, 2006

Nas (feat. Jay-Z)—"Black Republican" (Windows Media)
Nas (feat.—"Hip-Hop Is Dead" (Windows Media)
From Hip-Hop Is Dead on Def Jam

When we last left Nas with Street Prophets, Pierre Hamilton concluded, “As an MC, many predicted he’d be rap’s next ruler. He’s been attacked as a heretic, he’s carried the cross on wax, and now he’s old. Nas is no longer the 18-year-old kid scribbling in his book of rhymes from his parent’s apartment…. Only tomorrow knows if future generations will fully interpret his prophecies and until then, Nas will always be a disciple for the streets, the Afro-centric Asian, half-man/half-amazing.”  With the December 19 release of Hip-Hop Is Dead, Nas is back to drop the ultimate challenge: burn it all down and rebuild it into something new.

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Wednesday, Dec 6, 2006

Ghostface Killah (feat. Amy Winehouse)—"You Know I’m No Good" (Windows Media)
From More Fish on Def Jam

Reviewing Ghostface Killah’s Spring 2006 release Fishscale, Dan Nishimoto commented, “Who brings the grit to an R&B hit? Not, Meth, but Ghost. Who works the underground circuit? GZA, kinda, but not like Ghost. And who still finds life in those ol’ synthetic, trampish, skull snappin’ breaks? You guessed it. Unlike his compatriots who became instant vintage, Ghostface has slowly raised his work from a coiling simmer to a bubbling boil.”  And now Ghost is back for the second time this year with the forthcoming More Fish, released in the US on December 12.

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Wednesday, Dec 6, 2006
by PopMatters Staff

[SRC Records]

Stream: “Desire” [Real Audio | Windows]


“Raised on the infamous Southside of NYC’s Queens borough, a young Monch caught the hip-hop bug early as the culture born in the Rotten Apple. It would be while attending art school that Pharoahe would find his calling as an emcee, and eventually co-founded the rap duo Organized Konfusion. It was here that a still young Pharoahe began to display his full potential for the first time, transforming himself into a superhero emcee, painting vivid verbal pictures on cuts such as “Stray Bullet” whilst amazing listeners with his unpredictable-but-flawless flow on the jaw-dropping “Hypnotical Gases”.


Now settled at Steve Rifkind’s SRC Records, Pharoahe Monch, one of hip-hop’s most gifted lyricists, is ready to reintroduce himself to a rap world crying out for genuine artists with his long-awaited album, Desire. At a time when a rapper’s image and financial status appear to capture the attention of fans more than lyrical content and creative production, Pharoahe has refused to “dumb-down” his new project, choosing instead to adhere to the rules and principles he learnt growing-up in hip-hop’s golden age—be original, be true to yourself and be as skilful as possible on the mic device. But that said; don’t expect to hear Monch stuck in a time-warp on Desire. With beats from the likes of Mr. Porter (Kon-Artist of D12), The Alchemist, Detroit’s Black Milk and long-time collaborator Lee Stone, the lyrical king from Queens is definitely looking to move the art form of Hip-Hop forward with this album. “I think the approach I took to making some of the songs is still underground,” offers Monch when asked about the creative process behind Desire. “But in terms of the arrangements and the song-writing, I wouldn’t say it’s commercial, but it’s a bigger approach than I’ve taken in the past.” Aside from lyrics about politics, love, sex and survival in the modern world, it’s the sheer sonic scale of Desire that’s impressive. There’s a cinematic quality to the music, with the album’s central theme developed through a series of dramatic interludes linking tracks together. Desire finds Pharoahe Monch wanting to be labeled only as an emcee and a true artist. But even if he achieves that goal and receives the mainstream critical acclaim his talent deserves, you still get the impression that Monch will never rest on his laurels.”—SRC Records

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Tuesday, Dec 5, 2006

New Damien Rice video for “9 Crimes”, from the album 9, released November 6 in the UK and November 14 in the US on 14th Floor/Warner Bros.


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Monday, Dec 4, 2006
by PopMatters Staff

Aimee Mann —"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"
From One More Drifter in the Snow on SuperEgo

Grammy winner and Oscar nominee Aimee Mann’s first ever Christmas album is a collection of holiday classics and two original beautiful and bittersweet songs written by Aimee Mann and Michael Penn. Reminiscent of classic albums of the ‘40s and ‘50s, but without any retro kitsch. Like Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis and Peggy Lee, Aimee Mann captures the emotional beauty of Christmas.

James Kochalka Superstar —"Britney’s Silver Can"
From Spread Your Evil Wings and Fly on Rykodisc

Spread Your Evil Wings and Fly is in part Kochalka’s response to the current state of global affairs. While many of the songs on the album reach giddy heights of silliness, it is a dark album; death and drugs are recurring themes. But it is also first and foremost darkly comic. This album is the masterpiece of his musical career. It also rocks harder than any James Kochalka Superstar album yet.

Jay Bennett —"Replace You"
From The Magnificent Defeat on Rykodisc

Jay Bennett was a significant force behind the evolving sound, increasingly mature songwriting, and critical success of the twice Grammy-nominated Wilco. Largely recorded at Private Studios in Urbana, Illinois, and tracked at Jay’s home studio in Chicago, The Magnificent Defeat represents the finest of a massive creative outpouring. Following his production work on Blues Traveler’s 2005 release Bastardos!, Bennett’s songwriting floodgates were unhinged and the subsequent result was the writing and recording of some seventy songs, the best of which are showcased on this release.

Rafter —"Encouragement"
From Music for Total Chickens on Asthmatic Kitty

Music For Total Chickens is built from bits of pop architecture nailed together in odd forms; it is structurally sound (no pun intended), but at the same time it defies the conventional laws of (pop) physics. There are twisty-turny time signatures, swaddled in chunky guitar fuzz, sweet strings, harmonized “ooo"s and direct lyrical love-notes sometimes riding percussive trails all the way up great crescendos to pinnacles of bang-crash (like if Deerhoof recorded a self-help album.) These songs intend to celebrate and encourage everyone’s wrestling match with their demons, whatever they may be.

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