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Baby J
Abstract Urban
Ace and what's ace here is the shamelessness – the way 'Lies' has no compunction in swinging in with it's heavily-harmonized chorus, latching itself to your brainstem like some kind of synapse-leeching candiru, and then hanging around all day whilst you hum it in shops, in the street, in your head, in your heart. As such can't call the thumptious undertow retro but the way this gets under your skin permanent-like is definitely from a different age. Bravo.

 Dap-C & Dirty Sweet
Music Game
Well it depends what you want your hip-hop to do. If you want it to stay indoors, soundtrack your inner chaos, push your mind into strange new places then move along, nothing to see here. If you want hip-hop to come out of your car in big phat bass-waves, saunter your chassis round your 'hood, attract favourable looks from the local scrunchie-wearing trakkied-up hoi-poloi then this is just about perfect. Not a criticism. Enjoy it.

 JMC Ft. Cassidy
They MC
I'm actually digging the way this sounds like it might've been cooked up in a spare epiphany-laden afternoon: just a beat, 3 loops (some gorgeous Satie-esque piano, a piercing sped-up vocal shard, some ultra-echoed b-vox) & JMC swapping rhymes with Cassidy in the spaces inbetween. Intriguing throughout, the b-side 'Silver Shark' mixes the rugged and raw with the lush-and-spacey to great effect. Keep an eye on these guys.

Dead Residents
Scum Bongo
Dial Up
A couple of previews from the soon-come 'Triple Crown' LP and the DR boys are on typically twisted form: 'Scum Bongo' is the kind of seething squelchy electro-groove the likes of Hot Chip would kill to call their own, riven with voices nigh-on submerged in the murkage: on the flip 'Number Wang' takes that ol' Sesame Street 12-count groove and slathers it with mentalist verbiage of the highest order. Recommended.

'Breath' itself feels like an album-track – Graziella's meandering soul-vocal would ordinarily piss me off but it's put amidst such a sweltering, simmering quiet-storm backdrop it works, this is a track which takes it's title seriously, suffuses the space around your speakers with exhalation and suggestion. 'Reach' on the flip is even better, sounding like Mogwai rerubbed by Timbaland, guitars shorn of the usual hip-hop politeness and distorting-up nicely. Seek out.

Danny Spice
Down & Out
Cog Records
Great stuff from Mr. Spice, thanks in no small part to production from that Lewis Parker loon: 'Down And Out' hinges on a beautifully measured slab of heavy-assed jazzbo funk, sparse in detail and pulling back to bass'n'drums at all the right moments, percussion adding extra frictive detail you can run your tongue around deliciously. On the flip '' is even freakier, even more cartoonish, frantic with xylophone, scratches and a chorus that drops on your head like boulders. Enormously enjoyable.

 Illa J
We Here
Delicious Vinyl

Jay Dee's kid bro John Vancey drops this 12” produced by his late sibling – nothing here disinclines me from the suspicion that the veneration for anything Dilla ever touched is kinda misplaced (the a-side barely makes an impact) but mygod, Guilty Simpson is in heaven on the flip 'R U Listening?', a brilliantly lo-end-slung dubbed-out crawl you don't wanna surface from. Submission, one more time, seems like a reasonable option.

 Supastar Quamillah
California Dreaming
Cotter Records
Nice Quannum-style jazzed-out psych-hop from SQ – on the title track he layers up the textures into a peach-perfect hit of pure sunshine and sea-breeze, on 'Love Has Madeus' he loses his bearings in a vortex of 70s-soul lushness and on closer 'Son Of A Jazz Legend' he pays homage to his heritage (he's son of Blue Note's John Patton) over snappy, Pharcyde-style jazz-hop. Sweet.

Can It Be (Half A Million Dollars . . .)
2 shots from the new album and the sheer sample-quality steals these into your heart with irresistible force: on 'Can It Be'  it's the Jacksons 'I Want To Be Where You Are', on 'Me & This Jawn' it's the Isley Bros. 'For The Love Of You', in both cases Murs isn't just content to ride the loops and wait for the chorus and if ONLY other mainstream US rap could try this hard. Excellent.

Craze 24
You Don't Have To Be American
True 'nuff, you don't have to be an American to be a new rap star. You do have to be a mediocre MC, backed with unfocussed music of little impact – something that Craze effectively showcases on the title-track here. Kudos.

Crooked 1
Swagger Like Crook
Woaah – am I tripping or are the 80s references in hip-hop actually getting cool again? This blends classic MOR guitar-textures with a bumptious groove and some natty verbollocks from Crooked I (Harry Allen references! Fuck yeah!). Cool.

Busta Rhymes ft. Ron Brown
Arab Money
At last – someone using that goddamn auto-tune effect with the irreverence and clumsiness it's crying out for! Down with finesse in the use of current recording technology! Here's to the cak-handed!

Devin Tha Dude
Yo Mind
Razor & Tie
Still a funny fucker, still dressing his madness down in threadbare arrangements, still sounding uncannily like an off-cut from Ice-T's 'Power'! Diggit.

I'll Be In The Sky
Grand Hustle
Very very Outkast but crucially lacking the kind of melodic wierdness that makes Kast's hits so unforgettable. In a month's time this will slip out of your consciousness completely but for now it's in like Flynn. Don't fight it, feel it.


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