Marc Hogan



  • 50 Cent, 'Before I Self Destruct' (Aftermath/Interscope)

    Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson said his long-delayed fourth album would be "like a prequel" to his blockbuster 2003 debut Get Rich or Die Tryin' -- in other words, a back-to-basics return to the rapper-mogul's more aggressive roots. But after 2007's lackluster Curtis and this summer's abysmal War Angel mixtape, not even A-list producers (Dr. Dre, Polow Da Don, Timbaland) and A-list guest stars (Eminem, Ne-Yo, R. Kelly) can bring back Fitty's glory days. From unsettling babysitter-sex and street-hustling reminiscence "Then Days Went By" to chest-thumping call-to-arms ("I'm not tellin' you to shoot somebody, but...") "Crime Wave," the first half of Before I Self Destruct recalls the nihilistic ferocity of Fitty's legendary pre-fame mixtapes.

  • Gorillaz, 'D-Sides' (Virgin)

    Two albums as a cartoon chimp finally brought Damon Albarn the U.S. success he barely tasted in Blur. And even though he's moved on to the Good, the Bad and the Queen, this rarities collection (which focuses on the Danger Mouse-assisted Demon Days era) still has some surprises, especially the zither-adorned "Hong Kong" and protest song "Stop the Dams" (recorded with ex-Sugarcube Einar Örn). For simian disco, electro-pop remixes by DFA and Hot Chip stand out amid Disc 2's uneven DJ fodder. BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Spank Rock and Benny Blanco, 'Bangers & Cash' (Downtown)

    Their mothers must be so proud. Baltimore-bred, Philly-based rappers Spank Rock hook up with New York producer Benny Blanco -- and anything with breasts -- on this raunchy five-song EP. Spank Rock already scored with their absurdist porn shtick on 2006 debut YoYoYoYoYo. Here, the influence of Miami bass buffoons 2 Live Crew is more, well, explicit: "See the sweat drip to your cooch from your doody hole." Grimy, Diplo-worthy beats make stripper jams like "Bitch!" and "Pu$$y" as propulsive as they are quasi-ironically misogynistic. But 2 Live Crew got arrested for their profanity. These new shock jocks are just playing it safe. BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Battles, 'Mirrored' (Warp)

    Remember "shock and awe"? On their debut album, Battles bring that brutal, futuristic precision to the art-rock avant-garde. Featuring keyboardist/guitarist Ian Williams of math rockers Don Caballero and drummer John Stanier of post-hardcore virtuosos Helmet, this New York-based group layers sound manipulator Tyondai Braxton's alien vocals over muscular, off-kilter grooves. Think Captain Beefheart, if he'd been a fan of kraut rock and Animal Collective -- or, on the deep, martial drums of single "Atlas," Marilyn Manson. For rock that's both fist-pumping and forward-looking, this album suggests that Battles have few peers. Now Hear This: Battles - "Leyendecker" DOWNLOAD MP3 Now Watch This: Battles - "Atlas" BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Dizzee Rascal, 'Maths & English' (Dirtee Stank/ XL)

    London rapper/producer Dizzee Rascal went from upstart Boy in da Corner to Showtime sensation over the course of his first two albums, carrying the standard for the bellicose, breakbeat-based U.K. grime scene. Now, on new single "Sirens," he promises to "take it back to that old-school, storytelling shit." Slower and more predictable than its predecessors, Maths & English may have you waiting for the schoolbell to ring. But not before a few compelling lessons. With metallic distortion, "Sirens" breathlessly recounts a panicked flight from the police. "Pussy'ole" goes older school, reshaping the Lyn Collins sample behind Rob Base's 1988 "It Takes Two" into a sharp, fast-paced dis. Dizzee's production palette is broader, too, as on knives-as-percussion opener "World Outside," perhaps his best-sounding track to date. The rest feels scattered.

  • Swizz Beatz, 'One Man Band Man' (Universal Motown)

    "My album's crazy," boasts Kasseem Dean, a.k.a. Swizz Beatz, throughout his second solo record. While other rap/R&B producers turned performers have been disappointingly uneven lately -- Timbaland, WTF? -- One Man Band Man makes schizophrenia a virtue. Gaudy beats start and stutter on party joints like the delirious single "It's Me Bitches." Swizz turns socially conscious on the piano pep talk "Part of the Plan," assisted by Coldplay's Chris Martin. But by the chest-thumping "Bust Ya Gunz," the Beyoncé hit-maker is back to his Ruff Ryders roots. Crazy? Possibly. Now Hear This:Swizz Beatz - "Money in the Bank" WINDOWS MEDIA | REAL PLAYER BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Dan Deacon, 'Spiderman of the Rings' (Carpark)

    Dan Deacon may look like Bill Nye the Science Guy, but he's more like Dr. Demento. This one-man A/V club party makes low-budget electronic pop that's as bizarre as it is uproarious. Deacon's first proper album (after several limited releases) tricks out Devo-esque new wave with eight-bit beats, cartoon sound effects, and munchkin-pitched Ludacris quotes. While a classically trained background shows through the blissed-out drones of "The Crystal Cat," Deacon's weird-science experiments more often test your funny bone -- and shake your moneymaker. Now Hear This: Dan Deacon - "Crystal Cat" DOWNLOAD MP3 Now Watch This: Dan Deacon - "Crystal Cat" BUY: iTunesAmazon

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