By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
By Karli Evans
By Jose D. Duran
By Pablo Chacon Alvarez
Walking Coma (Rhyme Network)
Hey! Not bad. This is some kind of paranoid hip-hop that has brewed in some thick blunt smoke, videogames, welfare checks, UFO abductions, Eighties cartoons, and Asian punany. The beats are good and at times distorted, and the hooks are where they should be, gliding over some nice loops and Casio-tones; it reminds me a little of RZA's intro to "Triumph." I'm liking these stripped-down efforts. Raw, nitty-gritty shit. The album is good from beginning to end, with the proper aggression and honesty, kind of like a KutMasta Kurt and Kool Keith medley mixed with some Public Enemy and ODB.
As Good as You Want (self-released)
Brother Lou is a folksy acoustic happening from Hollywood. The musicianship is good, the vocals are on point, and the production value is suitable; my only real problem with this album is the cover art. A photo of Lou holding a flower screams, "Pederasts welcome!" Turns out the interior packaging concept revolves around shots of Lou meditating at some cemetery, which doesn't work here. Creepy. "Wasted Time" was a good jam, as was "Hey Jesus," which are both, yes, religious tunes — but they rock along with some blues. The latter track has this line in it: "I haven't read that good ol' book in 10 or 20 years, but I can't recall you saying you hate single moms and queers." Ha ha ha!
Pan con Bistec (Ritmo City Records)
This review writes itself: Given the cover photo, I can tell Bobby Ramirez is a flutist and likes to wear tuxedos while he performs. What I can't tell is how the music is, because the factory-sealed jewel case he sent our offices had no disc in it. Okay. Now you owe me and my editors a round of drinks at a bar of our choice and a copy of the album. Okay? Okay. Try sportcoats, dude — they're less stuffy.