Unless you're an established fan of Aussie hip-hop, the name Jase Connection may not ring a bell. He's a member of Global Underground electro-beatmakers Nubreed, too, but he's been producing on the (small) Aussie hip-hop scene for 12 years, now. Beathedz features a wide variety of A-hop who's who, from Kau from Koolism to Muph & Pegz to Urthboy from the Herd. Jase provides a consistent sound, at least; lush and electro-tinged, reminiscent of NZ hip-hop heavyweight Scribe. Jase's style is not so much unique as uniquely combinatory: from the Kanye-like sped-up soul sample of "All Out" to the drum-n-bass influenced "The Unborn Child's Theme". The female raps don't work so well (reedy, thin voice), but when's the last time you heard someone rhyming about Warnie's famous leg break to take out Gatting in the cricket? "Sixteen" is the standout; Muph and Pegz are veterans, and it shows -- they have more character in their voice, and more intelligence: "Stuck behind a laptop writing raps in caps lock / it's not going to make your raps stand out". In the end, though Beathedz may be a good, unifying force for some of the pre-eminent names on the Aussie hip-hop scene, I just wish their contribution had been more memorable: the producer, and the produced, are better than this compilation might indicate.
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Prize-winning historian Jane Kaminsky's Revolution in Color paints the era of the American Revolution with beguiling precision; John Singleton Copley, a man who resisted what we regard as the inevitable outcome of the era, emerges sharp and distinct.
As The Final Year quietly argues, if the United States' electorate fails to elevate itself to a higher level of political vernacular than coarse tweets and reality TV-style colloquies, then 2016 may be the best year the US will have had for a long time to come.
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Soulful balladeer Reigen reminds us that sometimes not knowing is a real place to start understanding.
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The Hackensaw Boys reboot Blaze Foley's Reagan-era "Oval Room" in light of the current political climate with scorching results.