Quasimoto, Aesop Rock, MED, Emanon, Basement TV -

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Oxnard's finest Otis Jackson Jr. bka Madlib, returns for more alter ego fun with Quasimoto's "The Further Adventures of Lord Quas." After his success with YNQ, Bluenote and Madvillain, I often hear Madlib being called overrated. I find this funny cause I remember not too long ago when he name garnered a response of 'who?' Much like Quas' debut "The Unseen," this LP is nothing but obscure, blunted loops littered with head-scratching vocal samples and Madlib's helium-induced raps. The bad character laughs in the face of song structure and just runs all over the album's 27 tracks. While some can't tolerate his altered vocals, I barely noticed this time around, mostly just getting lost in his excellent production. Take another adventure through dementia, its got a hell of a soundtrack...Far from newcomers to the game, Cali's Emanon (emcee Aloe Blacc and producer/DJ Exile), just don't have a whole lot of distributed material. Enter "The Waiting Room," their first true full length. As musically diverse as it is lyrically, both Aloe and Exile take their turns stealing the show. "Count Your Blessings" actually has Aloe incorporating numbers 1 through 30 into his rhymes, and it is far from obvious that he is doing it. It's Exile's turn on the hypnotizing Oriental flavored "Pseudo." There is no shortage of great material here, so just because you aren't familiar with these cats, don't overlook them...

For the second time in 4 years Aesop Rock has followed up his underground smash LP with an EP. Much like "Daylight" improved upon "Labor Days," "Fast Cars, Danger, Fire & Knives" betters "Bazooka Tooth." Aes Rizzle has the usual cast of characters in tow (Blockhead and El-P), and delivers his trademark brand of dry wit and worldly disgust. His most accessible track to date (yeah I said it), "Fast Cars" has the Jukie venting on his critics over a funky Blockhead offering. The juxtaposing song "Food, Clothes, Medicine" features some that aforementioned wit with lines like "food, clothes, medicine cause hungry, naked, sick sucks." Much like any Aes Rock album, my recommendation is totally based on how you like him. This is a no-brainer for any fan as Aes sticks to the script and gives you more of what you want. But don't expect him trying to win any new fans over here...MED of the legendary Stonesthrow camp really has it tough on his debut LP "Push Comes To Shove." He managed to hook up Madlib for the brunt of the production work, as well as a contribution from label mate Oh No. When he ventured outside his camp all he could get was Jay Dilla and Just Blaze. To little surprise, the production is the bread and butter of this album. Call it back packer rap all you want, but both Dilla's "Push" or Just's "Get Back" would get any club jumping. Unfortunately, MED tends to sound the same as all the other Oxnard emcees with his abrasive, choppy flow. That works fine for a track like "Push" but sounds terrible with a song like "Special." Nevertheless, a recommended album for the production alone...

The Los Angeles underground holds several famous spots for indy acts to cut their teeth, the aptly-titled "Basement" is one such spot. Now doubling as a label, Basement Records is putting some of the finest acts they've seen on display. Live performances (in stores at the Basement and other shows), and freestyle battles comprise this "Basement TV" DVD. Among those featured on here are Slug, Brother Ali, Murs, Aceyalone, J-Live, Mr. Lif, El-P and Blueprint. The energy of live performances can never be captured on video, so I'm generally not too big on these if I've seen the artists live before. In pretty much every case here, I've seen them. It doesn't help that the sound and picture quality is shit at times (which I'll only accept from bootlegs). On the other hand, if you've never seen J-Live beat juggle on the turntables while he spits (truly mind blowing), or seen Brother Ali capture a room with his energy, then I would highly suggest you take a look at this DVD...

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