Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2012-03-09

2012-03-09

Atmosphere: The Family Sign (Rhymesayers Entertainment, 2011) More memorable than many more interesting rappers as he singsongs medium-tempo of his mature values, his life as an entertainer, and his lost dog ("Became," "She's Enough") ***

Danny Brown: XXX (Fool's Gold, 2011) "No apologies/For the misogyny," although students of the class system and serious cunnilingus fans might forgive him anyway ("Scrap or Die," "I Will") ***

Buck 65: 20 Odd Years Volume 4: Ostranenie (Warner Music Canada, 2011) Maybe it's me--well, almost definitely it's me--but I like him better on baseball than on romance and on album than on EP ("Joey Bats," "Legendary") *

Common: The Dreamer/The Believer (Think Common/Warner Bros., 2011) Still on a major label, he's damn well gonna act it ("Raw [How You Like It]," "The Believer") ***

Dark Time Sunshine: Vessel (Fake Four, 2010) Seattle MC Onry Osborne ne Michael Martinez d/b/a Cape Cowen meets Chicago beatmaker Zamara for grown-up illbient that makes the most of the world's and its own incomprehensibility ("Vessel," "All Aboard") **

Speech Debelle: Freedom of Speech (Big Dada, 2012) Atmospheric rapper conveys advanced thought and warm feelings with pliant voice, enveloping beats, and lyrics that have their sharper moments ("Studio Backpack Rap," "Collapse," "Shawshank") ***

K'naan: More Beautiful Than Silence (A&M/Octone EP, 2012) Too much to prove, and neither Nelly Furtado nor Nas can help ("Nothing to Lose," "Coming to America") **

Tinie Tempah: Disc-Overy (Capitol, 2011) Finally grime-ragga-whatevs produces one of the mildly likable commercial rappers we thought we had such a monopoly on ("Till I'm Gone," "Simply Unstoppable") *

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