Jurassic 5, Angie Martinez, and Eve

Beat Box

Bloods or Crips, dirty cops or Rodney King, OJ or Dr. Dre; whatever misconceptions exist about L.A., they're no threat to the hip-hop sextet Jurassic 5, who've taken charge of quality control for the new L.A. sound. Painting a beautiful landscape of the valley's good life, the chemistry of four MCs and two producing DJs has expanded the J5 into a newfound Power in Numbers (Interscope). Through rootsy samples and a true realization of "What's Golden" in having a quartet of talented MCs, this crew continues changing the tides of hip-pop's appeal to the clubs, the industry, and the radio. It's this same Animal House (Elektra) that NYC's Hot 97 DJ Angie Martinez finds herself residing in. Overcrowded, overplayed, at this point, it doesn't even matter what she says. That which spawned both Funkmaster Flex and DJ Clue's success from airway to tape has backfired for this on-air personality, who has no real DJ capabilities to fall back on, but rather just falls flat. Similar sad story for the once "first lady of the Ruff Ryders," Eve, who's Eve-Olution (Interscope) has become a mere progression of hair and nail lengths, leaving the listener only to look forward to her next below-par acting gig. Her latest is Terri, the sassified stylist in Barbershop, the Sony-sponsored soundtrack to which stocks more quality players than the entire film cast. Barbershop director Tim Story should have sweetened the deal with a little Brown Sugar; an offbeat, Afro-centric flick based on recollections of NYC's early hip-hop scene. Surprisingly, the Brown Sugar soundtrack (MCA) focuses, to good effect, on today's R&B/hip-hop high rollers, including Blackalicious, Black Star, Erykah Badu, the Roots, and Mos Def, who also acts in the film. From Hollywood blockbusters to Broadway, it's the same old story of Topdog/Underdog (MCA/Universal): winners and losers, makers and breakers. In these realms, Mighty Mos does it all, acting and soundtracking alike. On the Topdog/Underdog album, lead men Mos "Booth" Def and Jeffrey "Lincoln" Wright sing soliloquies jumping from Muddy Waters to Wayne Shorter, from James Brown to Jay-Z, and from Howlin' Wolf to Wu-Tang Clan. Switching scenery from NYC to Virginia, the words that have been cooking in gutters for years have never sounded so good from the fraternal-duo Malice and Pusha T, aka the Clipse. Alongside a who's-who of producing/high school friends/ Neptunes, the Clipse's entirely unique middle-east coast narratives and incredible production on Lord Willin' give the Neptunes' new Star Trak label a stunning first blow, no longer just for N.E.R.D.s.

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Jurassic 5, Martinez, Angie, Barbershop, Brown Sugar, Topdog / Underdog, ClipseMusic Power in Numbers, Animal House, Eve-Olution, Barbershop, Brown Sugar, Topdog / Underdog, Lord Willin'Music Label:Interscope, Elektra, Inte

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