Brandon Soderberg



  • Killa Kyleon & Mouse on tha Track, 'Welcome To The Fish Fry' (self-released)

    Syrup-battered Juvenile's G-Code, seasoned with MF Doom's Mm..Food?

  • Stalley, 'Savage Journey to the American Dream' (Warner Bros.)

    MMG's sincere sore thumb studiously rides cushy, kush-happy Block Beattaz synth swirls.

  • Meek Mill / Photo by Ysa Pérez

    Breaking Out: Meek Mill

    WHO: Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill, 24, has spent the past decade shuffling around every corner of the rap landscape — from the Philly underground to a courtship with T.I.'s Grand Hustle to finally finding a place in Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group. Recent singles like "Ima Boss" off MMG's Self Made Vol. 1 and "House Party," from his mixtape Dreamchasers, are in the same vein as his 2008 radio hit "In My Bag." It's like rap needed to catch up with Mill, whose timeless style — catchy, urgent street tales — temporarily went out of fashion. SOUNDS LIKE: Rick Ross in a bizarre alternate universe. All of the bluster and throaty hooks, but buttressed with decidedly down-to-earth content, delivered in a focused yammer of a voice.

  • Robert Glasper Experiment, 'Black Radio' (Blue Note)

    Jazz by way of neo-soul, NPR-friendly rap, rakish Sade and Nirvana covers.

  • Kid Cudi

    WZRD, 'WZRD' (Wicked Awesome/HeadBanga/Universal Republic)

    WZRD is Kid Cudi and "Day 'N' Nite" producer Dot da Genius’ so-called "alternative rock" project. While that term signified something during the indie/collegiate/grunge takeover of the 1990s, it eventually came to represent little more than a middling, moderately heavy, hook-laden soundtrack for suburban kids who didn’t have the resources yet to escape their city's crappy, conservative radio playlists. In other words, it’s a term used advisedly. Yes, there are guitars and programmed approximations of live drums on WZRD, and sometimes Cudi lets out a mall-punk guffaw ("Love Hard") or adds a little grit to his voice ("Dr. Pill"), but the album is so obsessively EQ'd and "perfected" that every song arrives with all the life sucked out of it.

  • The Alchemist, 'Rapper's Best Friend 2' (Decon)

    Instrumentals trumping everyone's soul beats via synth squeals and blunted John Carpenter claps.

  • Curren$y, 'Muscle Car Chronicles' (DD172/Island Def Jam)

    Shame on you, Dame. Clearly unfinished raps over live-rawked Blueshammer beats. Disc 2? Don't bother.

  • Hodgy Beats, 'Untitled' (self-released)

    Solid though slight, with star-packed production credits and rap-raps, this OF release is the anti-Goblin.

  • Future, Astronaut Status

    Maddeningly catchy choruses caked with avant-garde levels of Auto-Tune are awesome; but is this all he's got?

  • 110718-hip-hop.png

    The Rebirth of Instrumental Hip-Hop

    When the excitement over Detox started up again last year, Dr. Dre even teased his next, next album — an instrumental project called The Planets, with songs inspired by the "personalities of each planet." We're still waiting for Detox, so the chances of ever hearing Dre go all Gustav Holst are slim, but a nutty, no-rapping release about space actually sounds more interesting than a decade-in-the-making sequel to The Chronic 2001. Plus, there's plenty of enthusiasm for boundary-pushing instrumental hip-hop right now. The subgenre quietly and creatively returned this year, and last month saw the arrival of two game-changing releases: Electronic Dream by Dipset producer Araabmuzik; and Rainforest from Lil B beatmaker Clams Casino.

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