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Chicago Rap’s Future is in Vic Spencer’s Hands

By Winston Cook-Wilson, Contributor

Today, more than two years after the release of Chief Keef's drill anthem "I Don't Like," Chicago's hip-hop scene is more a talking point than a driving force. Its breakout stars (Keef, Lil Durk and Lil Reese, in particular) have either been unable to replicate their early commercial success, or are precluded from the possibility of doing so by restrictive contracts or stints in jail/rehab. Oddly enough, though, drill music (and the much-mythologized "Chiraq")… more »

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Remembering Bobby Womack

By Douglas Wolk, Contributor

Bobby Womack, the singer/songwriter/guitarist who died June 27 at the age of 70, was one of R&B's greatest musicians, and one of its most confounding. His 50-year career was marked by one wrong turn after another, party due to his habit of making genuinely catastrophic personal decisions; yet it always righted itself over time. Womack was a singular talent who very often subordinated his own vision to other artists', or relied on other voices to… more »

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5 Feminist Lessons From Missy Elliott

By Madeleine Holden, Contributor

Missy Elliott — destroyer of one-minute men, big [elephant trumpet] searcher and unapologetic freak — is woefully underrated as a feminist icon. She busted through the boys' club of rap in the late '90s, clearing a space for the Nickis and Azealias of today. But even in when judged against the people who followed her, Elliott's career has been uniquely woman-positive. During her peak run from the late '90s to the mid '00s, Elliott provided… more »

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Remembering Bobby Womack

eMusic Reviews View All

Trey Songz, Trigga

2014 | Label: Atlantic Records

Trigga warning: As strong as his new album Trigga is, it does little to solve the fundamental problem with the recorded output of our man Trey Songz. He remains a nimble vocalist with strong range, one who acquits R&B’s formal clichés with precision. But his versatility comes at the expense of personality: No matter how well-executed the music is, at its center is anonymity.

But first, the good: Trigga, at its best, suggests contemporary R&B — that popular, populist strain of radio-friendly soul music holed up in R&B’s diminished center —… more »

Ab-Soul, These Days…

2014 | Label: Top Dawg Entertainment / TuneCore

Ab-Soul went for broke last time. On his 2012 effort Control System, the California rapper and Black Hippy member revealed his deep-seated paranoia about the illuminati, called for revolution, and grieved the loss of his partner and collaborator Alori Joi, who committed suicide. Compared to that, his latest album These Days… is a victory lap.

The weight of loss and his concerns over the state of the world have not disappeared, but he seems less consumed by them. On “Twact” and “Just Have Fun,” he takes joy in drugs and carnal… more »

50 Cent, Animal Ambition: An Untamed Desire to Win

2014 | Label: G-UNIT RECORDS (GNR)

Every year, the narrative of 50 Cent’s career shifts. The lead-up to Animal Ambition: An Untamed Desire to Win coincided with a headlining spot at Hot 97′s storied Summer Jam — a stage he hadn’t graced in nearly a decade — and the reunion of his old crew, G-Unit, a group with whom he hadn’t performed in nearly as long. It was a great comeback story, but, unfortunately, none of it found its way to Animal Ambition.

Instead, it’s business-as-usual for Curtis Jackson. The topics remain in generic: stunting, robbery and… more »

Lee Fields & the Expressions, Emma Jean

2014 | Label: Truth & Soul Records / Redeye

On Emma Jean, Lee Fields’s third full-length for Brooklyn’s Truth & Soul Records, the singer and his redoubtable backing band the Expressions dial back on the gutbucket intensity of 2012′s Faithful Man in favor of more measured and contemplative Southern-style soul grooves. Emma Jean was mixed and partly recorded at Easy Eye Sound, the Nashville Studio owned by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys (Auerbach also penned “Paralyzed” for the album), and the Southern-fried approach clearly fits the North Carolina-born Fields. Just check out his performance on the cover of… more »

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Bass, Beats & Bars

By Nate Patrin, Contributor

Hip-hop's spectrum is broader than ever, with a scene in every city and a thousand ways to control a mic. Bass, Beats & Bars ties it all together — the hustler opulence of Rick Ross, the street-level grind of Freddie Gibbs and G-Side, underground scholars like Shabazz Palaces, and iconic veterans from DJ Quik to Pharoahe Monch. more »

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