Mike Dean (center) backstage during the European leg of the Watch The Throne tour last year. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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J. Cole performing at KMEL Summer Jam in Oakland, Calif., on June 9. Steve Jennings/Getty Images hide caption

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Microphone Check

J. Cole On Competition And Writing Honest Songs

The rapper and producer says he's not afraid to make songs about being shy or unsure of himself.

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The-Dream performing in New York City in May. Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images hide caption

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Statik Selektah's fifth studio album, Extended Play, comes out June 18. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Kanye West performing "Black Skinhead" on Saturday Night Live last weekend. Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank hide caption

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The Record

Kanye West Stands Alone

On his new songs, the rapper points fingers in every direction, including back at himself.

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Adrian Younge (left) and Ghostface onstage at the Seattle stop of their tour last week. Erich Donaldson hide caption

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The Record

The Ghostface Killah Rises Again

A high-concept collaborative album by a veteran rapper and a film composer knits together hip-hop and soul music.

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The Wu-Tang Clan. Clockwise from left: Ol' Dirty Bastard, the GZA, the RZA, Inspectah Deck, Masta Killa, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah. Center, from left, Method Man and U-God. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Ghostface Killah with Adrian Younge and his band, Venice Dawn, after their first performance together. Ghostface Killah and Adrian Younge's new album, Twelve Reasons To Die, comes out April 16. Courtesy of the artists hide caption

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Adrian Younge (left) and William Hart. Adrian Younge Presents The Delfonics comes out March 12. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Donald Byrd onstage, in an image circulated by his record label at the time, Blue Note Records. Echoes/Redferns/Getty Images hide caption

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Dr. Dre (right) with Snoop Dogg, who played a starring role on Dre's The Chronic. Here they pose after a 1993 performance in Chicago. Raymond Boyd/Getty Images hide caption

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