• DJ/rupture - Special Gunpowder; Diplo - Florida

    DJ/rupture Special GunpowderTigerbeat6 Diplo FloridaNinja Tune Having good taste is easy; translating it into great art is another thing altogether. DJ/rupture and Diplo have both made their names as curators of different strains of the beat diaspora. Rupture links Middle Eastern dub to Jamaican dancehall; Diplo, of the raucous DJ duo Hollertronix, digs Baltimore club music and Brazilian baile funk. And when it comes to hip-hop, they both like it grimy. The Boston-born, Barcelona-based Rupture made his name two years ago with a pair of stunningly inventive mixes-Gold Teeth Thief and Minesweeper Suite-that tweaked the mash-up into an intellectual mission. Special Gunpowder, his first solo album, picks up on the same sonic themes. He imports reggae lifers Sister Nancy ("Little More Oil") and Junior Cat ("Flop We") to toast over his faithful versions of roots riddims.

  • DJ/rupture, 'Special Gunpowder' (Tigerbeat6)  Diplo, 'Florida' (Big Dada)

    DJ/rupture, 'Special Gunpowder' (Tigerbeat6) Diplo, 'Florida' (Big Dada)

    Having good taste is easy; translating it into great art is another thing altogether. DJ/rupture and Diplo have both made their names as curators of different strains of the beat diaspora. Rupture links Middle Eastern dub to Jamaican dancehall; Diplo, of the raucous DJ duo Hollertronix, digs Baltimore club music and Brazilian baile funk. And when it comes to hip-hop, they both like it grimy. The Boston-born, Barcelona-based Rupture made his name two year sago with a pair of stunningly inventive mixes-Gold Teeth Thief and Minesweeper Suite-that tweaked the mash-up into an intellectual mission. Special Gunpowder, his first solo album, picks up on the same sonic themes. He imports reggae lifers Sister Nancy ("Little More Oil") and Junior Cat ("Flop We") to toast over his faithful versions of roots riddims.

  • Dizzee Rascal, 'Showtime' (XL)

    It's a hip-hop truism--the first album is the one where you get the most bragging done. The follow-up? Well, that's where you gloat about your achievements and bitch about the trials of fame. But mostly, the second album's for the haters. It's where rappers cast themselves as actors in epic revenge tragedies, raising a middle finger to the people who said they'd never make it and the allies who betrayed them once they did. Dizzee Rascal isn't a rapper in the manner that most Americans would recognize. He's British, and he sounds it. Although he's clearly a student of U.S. hip-hop, nicking lines here and there from Snoop Dogg and the Diplomats, Dizzee's thickly accented flow can be as inscrutable as it is mesmerizing.

  • Talib Kweli - The Beautiful Struggle; Mos Def - The New Danger

    Talib KweliThe Beautiful StruggleGeffenMos DefThe New DangerGeffen Earlier this year, Kanye West's The College Dropoutproved that hip-hop moralizing didn't have to be dull-or, for that matter, particularly moral. On "Get Em High," Kanye enlisted the straitlaced Talib Kweli to help him woo a potential hookup. Kweli humbly assented-"You twistin' my arm / I'll assist with the charm"-and delivered what turned out to be one of his breeziest performances. It's clear that the favor sparked a fever in Kweli.

  • The Streets / Dizzee Rascal Live at NYC's Irving Plaza

    The Streets/Dizzee RascalIrving PlazaNew York City "Are you gonna dance now?" That's Mike Skinner, a.k.a. the Streets, one song into his encore, chastising a pair of blokes in the crowd for fighting. Their behavior, while lager-loutish, was forgivable: Skinner's songs, which run conspiratorial pub chatter over soft-shoe beats, don't naturally inspire sweaty, transcendent body-jacking. But then Skinner intoned the intro to "Weak Become Heroes," a melancholy-yet-buoyant Daft Punk rip from his 2002 debut, Original Pirate Material. Synths throbbed, drums shuffled, and rhythmic order was imposed. On paper, the pairing of the Streets with opening act Dizzee Rascal--two young, British, critically acclaimed, hip-hop influenced, writing-producing-performing triple-threats--was ideal. But while the two have a lot in common, Skinner's work is far more accessible.

  • Morrissey: Live at the Apollo Theater

    AreMorrissey's songs impossibly grand or impossibly small? Even the manhimself doesn't seem to know for sure. On the second of five sold-outnights at Harlem's storied Apollo, Moz played tug-of-war with his ownself-importance. And as befits his best material, even winning was akind of losing. For the first few songs, in a variation onan old Smiths tradition, Manchester's finest dangled a sprig ofgladiolas from the zipper of his pants. A decade ago, waves of fragile,erotically confused teens would likely have stormed the stage for anibble.

  • The Girl With the Golden Thumbs

    When we met Mya, we were like...wo: The 24-year-old R&B singerwas sprawled out on a hotel-room floor, sporting chocolate-brownnails, multihued hair, and a black mesh dress that suggested"intimates" more than "active wear." If hergetup gave her the killer looks of a Bond girl, it was intentional:She's one of the leading ladies in James Bond 007:Everything or Nothing (Electronic Arts; PS2, Xbox, andGameCube), an original espionage adventure that lets players assumea character modeled from the current big-screen Bond, PierceBrosnan.

  • Emo Rap: Up From The Underground

    Slug is having a moment, and he'd like to share with the restof the group. On the tiny stage of the Cincinnati clubAnnie's, which barely contains his rangy six-foot-three-inchframe, the Atmosphere frontman leads an audience of about athousand underground-rap loyalists through a fist-pumping round of"Total Eclipse of the Heart" -- with apologies toBonnie Tyler and Conor Oberst. Your average hip-hop head maytake one look at the self-deprecating, yet oddly charismatic,headliner (modestly outfitted in a white tee and cargos) and writehim off as a patsy. But this isn't MTV hip-hop, and thesearen't its fans. Instead, led by a coterie of ladies who looklike they got lost en route to a Death Cab for Cutie show, thecrowd fervently shouts along, eventually drowning out the31-year-old pied piper onstage.

  • Saves the Day, 'In Reverie' (Vagrant/Dreamworks)

    Chris Conley will be the pain. "All you want from me is a broken heart and a mouth full of blood," the Saves the Day frontguy sang on 2001's Stay What You Are. What's a little hemoglobin between fraught friends? For someone with such a sweet voice, Conley is a master at psychological warfare. In his songs, characters sit stunned and unnerved at how accurately he's nailed them. Behind that boyish grin and gawky posture lies a savage mind. After Stay What You Are's "At Your Funeral" became a crossover hit, Saves the Day landed a deal with DreamWorks. And on In Reverie, the New Jersey emo vets' major-label debut, Conley and company trade awkward silences for a little awkward overcompensation. Reverie's opener, "Anywhere With You," saddles its buoyant chorus with grinding, overprocessed guitar.

  • Pink, 'Try This' (Arista)

    Forget Luscious Jackson: Pink is America's first proper Beastie Girl. The bootyliciousCan't Take Me Home (2000) was her Licensed to Ill, a gleefully race-traitorous debut that garnered props from fans on both sides of the color line. And she kept on illin', trading blue-eyed funk for cathartic, pigment-neutral pop rock on 2001's Missundaztood (her Check Your Head); she successfully stared down label boss L.A. Reid to get it released. Why Reid tripped is still a mystery. Pink is a populist, raised on hip-hop, metal, and Top 40 radio, and Missundaztood phrased its woman-on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-throwdown vision in terms that more than five million fans could grasp. Which means that this time around, Pink's label has given her just enough rope to hang herself -- a fate she handily avoids.

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