CD Reviews

Dirty Pretty Things, For the Record and Scars & Stripes

Grown-Man Rap

Rapper Big Pooh Dirty Pretty Things (For Members Only)

Rapper Big Pooh has long been ignored when it comes to his lyrical prowess as one-third of Little Brother. With the group officially disbanded, Pooh has had to stand on his own two feet. After releasing 2005’s surprising solo outing, Sleepers, Pooh has been busy in the mixtape circuit and released a couple of “street” albums. But now it’s time for him to surface again with the long-awaited Dirty Pretty Things to showcase his growth as an artist. Dirty Pretty Things is a departure from the Little Brother sound as Pooh gets far more introspective than previous efforts. Subject matter ranges from his tumultuous relationship with his incarcerated older brother (“Real Love”) to life after Little Brother (“End of an Empire”). Being candid about his personal life is one of his strong suits, but Dirty Pretty Things also excels when Pooh simply raps his ass off. The Nottz-produced “Are You Ready” finds Pooh shredding the dense beat alongside fellow rhyme animal Torae. In the end, the little brother of Little Brother shows his growth as both a man and an artist.  ★★★★☆

Your Favorite Rapper’s Favorite Rapper

Torae For the Record (Duck Down Records)

Torae is a rapper’s rapper. He’s the type of MC that rappers want to be like and producers enjoy working with. Which is why his solo debut For The Record features a lineup of stellar producers that most rappers would die for: 9th Wonder, Diamond D, DJ Premier, Pete Rock and Large Professor. The marriage of dope beats and dope rhymes shines through on the album and demonstrates why Torae might be one of hip-hop’s best-kept secrets. The DJ Premier-produced title track finds Torae experimenting with a variety of rhyme schemes and is sure to keep your head nodding. But it’s not all about ripping mics as Torae touches a number of topics, including the debt of war (“Reflection”) and fractured relationships (“Over You”). For the Record may not sell a million records, but it’s a must-hear for hip-hop heads.  ★★★★☆

Pure, Unadulterated Hip-Hop

The Away Team Scars & Stripes (Duck Down Records)

The dynamic duo of producer Khrysis and MC Sean Boog have been making music under the Justus League umbrella as The Away Team for nearly a decade. But once the conglomerate deteriorated, nobody knew what the future held for them. Fortunately, the duo has been scooped up by Duck Down Records, and under the watchful eye of 9th Wonder they drop what is easily their best project to date. Scars & Stripes is a focused body of work that clearly proves that Boog and Khrysis have been working hard on perfecting their craft. Whether it’s dropping social commentary on “Happenin’ Today” or rocking over the sparse drums of “Set It Off” alongside Talib Kweli and female MC Rapsody, Sean Boog constantly impresses. The excellent production of Khrysis continues to evolve as he glides between soulful soundscapes of “See U Later” to grittier works such as “Drift.” If you haven’t checked for The Away Team, now would be the perfect time to get acquainted.  ★★★☆☆

Suggested Next Read

City Moves


City Moves

Courtney Combs and Heather Sirois-Arnold met 12 years ago while dancing in a benefit show in Chicago. When they found themselves performing together again in Phantom—The Las Vegas Spectacular, they decided to join forces. The result is City Moves, a benefit concert without the artistic restrictions of a theme. Expect to see dancing, hip-hopping and even hand-balancing by entertainers from local dance companies and top Strip productions, including Phantom, Le Rêve, Peepshow and Viva Elvis.