Hardcore Rap

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He's not a doctor . . .

Around this time four years ago, contemporary hip-hop tastemaker Dawaun Parker faced the same dilemma that most soon-to-be music-school grads negotiate: should he become a performer, a songwriter, or a barista?
. . . but he plays with one in LA. As hip-hop's newest secret weapon — and Dr. Dre's right-hand man — Berklee grad Dawaun Parker is helping resuscitate rap's biggest stars.
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  May 15, 2009

Clik tracks

Hide your naughty daughters and aspiring MC sons: Brooklyn’s Duck Down is that kingly retrofitted, incomparably propped hip-hop label that all of the boys and all of the girls are begging to fuck with.
Buckshot and Black Moon get live
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  April 17, 2009

Say what?

Good news for perplexed suburbanites: a new site called  lets experienced rap interpreters explain difficult urban slang to hip-hop neophytes.
The Big Hurt: A chat with Bill Buckholz of
By DAVID THORPE  |  April 10, 2009

Review: Notorious

To its fault and its credit, George Tillman Jr.'s bio-pic offers a life story that fans of late MC extraordinaire Chris Wallace, a/k/a Biggie Smalls, a/k/a the Notorious B.I.G., have known for years.
Romanticized, but well executed
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  January 13, 2009

Wu-Tang Clan's essential flavor

Fortune magazine once estimated that Michael Jordan has fueled our economy to the tune of $10 billion. Wu-Tang Clan are responsible for the careers of about that many MCs.
Lupo's, January 2, 2009
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  January 06, 2009

Joe the rapper

"One thing I've learned is that if you write about reality, you'll never run out of material."
Joe Budden, Freeway, and the enduring authority of street rap
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  November 11, 2008


Millenium thug

Forgive me for listing only New York classics here.
Rough, rugged, raw reality rap essentials from a redefining year
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  November 11, 2008

Norman Mailer’s ‘White Negro’ gets the treatment

Long before suburban kids began digging Dr. Dre and Tupac, an earlier generation of young white people venerated the jazz and swing music of the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s.
Action speaks!
By IAN DONNIS  |  October 15, 2008

The Big Hurt: Earnest goes to camp

Hey: when the Verve play shows in America, they should start out their set with a cover of “The Freshman,” just so everyone’s like, “Wait a minute, I thought I had this shit figured out.”
Plus baby comes from Clay and Bizkit defects to Manson
By DAVID THORPE  |  August 26, 2008

World War III

Devastating news: Boy George has been denied entry to the United States!
The Big Hurt: Boy George vs. America; Coldplay vs. some dude; 50 Cent vs. chalupas
By DAVID THORPE  |  June 30, 2008


By the time this goes to press, Prodigy will be roughly 10 books and 2000 push-ups deep into the three-and-change prison term he picked up last year for illegal gun possession.

H.N.I.C. Pt 2 | AAC

By MARTÍN CABALLERO  |  April 22, 2008


Pimp and circumstance

Some 45 minutes into the Wu-Tang Clan’s afternoon performance in Harvard Yard, Raekwon took a moment to describe his audience.

Wu-Tang Clan at Harvard University "Yardfest," April 18, 2008

By RICHARD BECK  |  April 22, 2008

Fat Joe

For a 15-year rap veteran who brought the world the late Big Pun and has penned a long string of hits, Fat Joe sure has an inferiority complex.
The Elephant in the Room | Terror Squad
By BEN WESTHOFF  |  April 02, 2008

The ‘A’ word

How can the media cover a subject that nearly everyone’s thinking about, but is almost too abhorrent to discuss?

Is there one political story the press shouldn’t report?

By ADAM REILLY  |  February 15, 2008

Too legit to quit

The early word on Wu-Tang Clan’s new 8 Diagrams   is that it will rip the group apart at the seams.
Wu-Tang Clan and Ghostface Killah
By BEN WESTHOFF  |  December 31, 2007

DJ Drama

The West Coast is conspicuously under-represented.
Gangsta Grillz: The Album | Atlantic
By ANDREW GRAHAM  |  December 26, 2007



Twenty years later, Straight Outta Compton holds up better than most of the East Coast albums released around the same time.
Straight Outta Compton, 20th Anniversary Edition | Ruthless/Priority
By BEN WESTHOFF  |  December 17, 2007

From ’Ye to mixtapes

To get the full taste of where hip-hop is at, you also have to seek out the unofficial releases, the mixtapes, which often have a bigger impact than the official albums.
Hip-hop: 2007 in review
By BEN WESTHOFF  |  December 17, 2007

Freestyle fellowships

Although crunk partisans probably won’t care for the comparison, LA rapper Busdriver might be thought of as the indie hip-hop analogue to Lil’ Wayne.
The indie rap of Busdriver and Von Südenfed
By FRANKLIN BRUNO  |  November 06, 2007

Chairmen of the boards

Not unlike Swedish, Tagalog, and Esperanto, music is a language, with its own conjugations and (lewdly) dangling participles.
Our critics pick the 14 producers with the fattest, meanest beats
By PHOENIX MUSIC STAFF  |  October 18, 2007

War of the words

50 Cent has a long history of initiating beefs before he releases a new album.
50 Cent versus Kanye West
By RICHARD BECK  |  September 12, 2007


I scream, you scream

Kids still stream toward the siren song and that holy grail — frozen treats in paper packaging, paradise in the guise of a push-up pop.
A salute to ice cream trucks
By DAVID MASHBURN  |  August 27, 2007

Still nasty

“I think a lot of our music got overshadowed by the girls,” says legendary DJ Mr. Mixx of 2 Live Crew.
How 2 Live Crew blew up from hip-hop comedy act to multi-platinum provocateurs
By BRIAN COLEMAN  |  July 18, 2007

Serious simians

It’s a rock star’s prerogative to get up every morning in the afternoon.
A day spent with Arctic Monkeys reveals the band to be, well, regular guys
By MATT ASHARE  |  May 18, 2007

Blowing up

I’m guessing most people know this by now: album sales continue to tank.
The ringtone champs
By NICK SYLVESTER  |  April 23, 2007

Cheap trills

As you’re hopefully aware, the Virginia coke-rap duo Clipse are coming to the Station on Saturday.
Hyperbole? Not even close.
By CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  March 28, 2007


Slingin' it

They at once cemented their status as hip-hop rhyme pushers.
Clipse, The Middle East, February 26, 2007
By MATTHEW GASTEIER  |  March 06, 2007

Real housewives and blood diamonds

Literature, that slow cousin to Life, has in its prolonged non-engagement with reality TV been even denser and more dreamily backward than usual.
Another trip to Orange County, and bling’d in Sierra Leone
By JAMES PARKER  |  February 27, 2007

Guest lists

What small, private lists like this remind us is that big, honking institutional lists are largely fictions, mirages of a consensus that no longer exists, if it ever really did in the first place.
 What 30 of the Phoenix 's music critics liked this year
By PHOENIX MUSIC STAFF  |  January 02, 2007

Diversified incoming

It’s a testament to the strength of hip-hop, as the medium enters its third decade, that 2006 would see such a wide range of sounds so well represented, from commercial anthems to abstract beat tapes.
A year in hip-hop
By MATTHEW GASTEIER  |  December 19, 2006