May 20, 2009 A full year out of rehab, the controversial rapper Eminem is back with Relapse, his first album since 2004. Curiously, he brings back an obscure rap subgenre called horror-core, and critic Robert Christgau thinks he should have stayed home a little longer.
February 23, 2009 The second album by Somalia-born Canadian alt-rapper K'Naan finds the artist embracing a swing-infused bent, complete with Ethiopian samples and strong hooks. Troubadour fits alongside the best pop efforts of Lil Wayne and T.I., with music that stays in your head for days.
December 17, 2008 Though the Congolese music known as soukous was Africa's biggest pop-music style in the '70s and '80s, it only reached the U.S. in bits and pieces. But a new anthology by the musician known as Franco goes a long way toward completing the puzzle.
October 29, 2008 Gregg Gillis is a Pittsburgh DJ and musical mixologist who was known only by his stage name, Girl Talk, until his music took off and he could quit his day job as a biomedical engineer. Often, music by mixologists sounds esoteric, but that could hardly be claimed of Girl Talk's latest mashup album, Feed the Animals.
September 1, 2008 In 1983, a 32-year-old ad man named Steve Stein entered a mixing contest on a whim. By the standards of early hip-hop, he was unusually old and unusually white. But his music, with its brazen use of copyrighted audio samples, got tons of airplay. Restrictions on using samples have plagued Stein (aka Steinski) ever since, but a new retrospective CD demonstrates his mark on history.
August 8, 2008 The Bright Eyes singer made Conor Oberst on an impulse while visiting the mystical mountain town of Tepoztlan in Mexico earlier this year. The approach is straight folk-rock, but it's less simple than it seems at first. But it also sounds like the next installment in the Bright Eyes catalog.
July 30, 2008 Hayes Carll made a stir in Americana music with his self-released 2004 album, Little Rock. Music critic Robert Christgau says that Carll has matured some since then, and that maturity sounds good on him. Carll is good for a laugh, but Christgau says his sensitive side puts his new album, Trouble In Mind, over the top.
July 8, 2008 A week after Lil Wayne's latest album was released, it had sold a million copies. Robert Christgau says the phenomenal success of Tha Carter III, especially in these dismal times for the music industry, is due to the risky marketing techniques Lil Wayne employed and the playful way he treats traditional gangsta rap themes.