Follow Us
Manifesto Radio


A monthly assortment of reviews dedicated to art, culture,
and abiding the law to enjoy oneself!



THE DOZENS; The Best Albums of 2013

Welcome to THE DOZENS, Manifesto’s end-of-year summation on what’s fresh, what’s ripe, what’s been overlooked and what is nothing but tripe. Keeping it to 12 albums for the year, is very hard, but we got plenty of honorable mentions that could have easily made the list. That being said, these are our picks for 2013.



Honorable Mentions:


NYC: Introducing The House of Bando...CHOICH!

This past Sunday, New York City was graced with lovely weather that smacked 
of spring rising. A buoyant setting just right for the opening of the newest art
exhibit that featured the work of Iona Rozeal Brown. Introducing The House Of
Bando takes up where Brown left off in 2011, with her paintings a vibrant and 
fluid mixture of Japanese Kabuki theater, house and funk music’s power, and
in-your-face-color. Consisting of twelve paintings arranged as an altarpiece, and
chock full of influence from the Byzantine Era, Kabuki and Noh theater as well as
the dance clubs, Brown’s exhibit seduced you with rhythm the moment you walked
through the doors of Salon 94 Freeman. With deep house playing, and frankincense
burning at the doorway giving off the aura of being at a temple, CHOICH was a
stirring introduction to this new body of work.



This is one of those old movies that is so powerful you wonder how it even got
made. ‘tick…tick…tick..’ is an MGM film from 1970, with Jim Brown as the lead
character, Jim Price, the newly elected sheriff of a small Southern town. George
Kennedy plays John Little, the man he replaces due to an election that saw all
of the Black people vote Price in. The film goes on to show all of the tension that
both men endure in the town, tension that seems to build and build to a possible

‘tick…tick…tick’ is a heavily underrated flick. It covered the complexities of racial
relations in a straightforward, sometimes brusque manner. This was Jim Brown’s
ninth film, and one where he was well established as a credible star and also 
as a Black leading man who was more virile in manner than others prior. What’s
interesting is that there are some who consider this film a contributor to the rise
of the blaxploitation genre. George Kennedy is outstanding as John Little, who
struggles with losing his job and the jeers of the townfolk - even the little kids.
Look out for another former NFL player turned actor, Bernie Casey here as well.
Even Fredric March, in his last acting role ever, appears here as the mayor. One
major flaw is that this movie is NOT available anywhere except Warner Brothers’
online archives. It’s a flaw because this movie still has enough weight to matter
today. ‘tick…tick…tick’ is commentary that will make you think long after the
clock stops. 


NYC: LT Burger Midtown

LT Burger 
8 W 40th St, New York, NY 10018 
(212) 582-8200 ext. 1

Having a celebrity eatery be instantaneously successful can boil down to what it 
can give you once you walk through the doors. With Laurent Tourondel, you are
certain to get a dining experience that delights the palate no matter the cuisine.
And so, we have the second restaurant of his with hamburgers as the dish of 
prominence. After the success he had in Sag Harbor, New York, Tourondel opened
up LT Burger right by Bryant Park. So far, it has proven to be a great success. A
recent visit during the week found the place buzzing with activity, but there was
never the sense of feeling crowded once you entered. The waitstaff was highly 
attentive; even sitting at the bar, they checked in with you every so often. The 
menu is definitely eye-catching as far as burger choices go. The Standard was a 
satisfying choice, but The Mexican, replete with chili enchiladas, fresh guacamole,
pickled jalapenos and monterey jack cheese was excellent. Their smoked gouda 
curly fries were sinfully delightful as well. One other standout element to LT Burger
was their drinks list. While the wine list wasn’t too big, they more than made up
for it with an extensive beer list as well as specialty cocktails. (They even have a 
Happy Hour, from 5-7 PM during the week.) LT Burger is definitely a nice place to
get a classic American dish with a refined but relaxed spin.


Restaurant: Mile End Deli

Mile End Deli
97A Hoyt St, Brooklyn, NY 11217
(718) 852-7510

One of the quintessential things that makes New York the city it is, is the
Jewish delicatessen. You know at least two people that enjoy a good corned
beef on rye, sauerkraut optional. In an era where some of the more notable
spots are closing down due to rising prices, there are one or two places that
look to fill the void in new ways. And one of those places fitting the bill nicely
is Mile End Deli located in right in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.

Smoked brisket poutine and Labatt’s.

The deli is a homage to the food of Noah Bernamoff’s youth in Montreal,
Quebec. Combining Jewish home cooking with a French-Canadian accent
gives you succulent dishes such as the classic poutine, served up with 
hand-carved smoked brisket. Other tasty items include the chicken soup
with matzo balls, smoked whitefish salad, and even duck pastrami. Take
note that the weekend brunch is a heavy draw and the space while it is
inviting, is cozy. Be prepared to wait a bit, but it is worth it. Mile End is 
guaranteed to give comfort to your belly with ease.


Film: 'Mighty Jerome'

Harry Jerome was a sprinter from North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
But he was much more than that, in spirit and action. In watching this riveting
documentary by Charles Officer (Nurse Fighter Boy) and the National Film Board
of Canada, you can’t help but be moved by Jerome’s life. And in some respects,
you’ll find yourself asking, ‘why wasn’t he more heralded?’ Officer’s brilliant pacing
of the story pulls you in, supported by recollections from Harry’s family and friends
as well as film reels and dramatic re-enactments. And the cinematography of black
and white lends a beautiful touch. Because in hearing of Jerome’s rise to world fame,
crippling setbacks and his triumphs over those, Mighty Jerome does seem like a 
snapshot in time. One that needs to be looked at over and over again.

Mighty Jerome is available through iTunes.



Welcome to THE DOZENS, Manifesto’s end-of-year summation on what’s fresh, what’s ripe, what’s been overlooked and what is nothing but tripe. This year we’ve got a couple new additions as far as categories go. So sit back and partake.

Levar F.M. [ManifestoMag]

Killer Mike - “R.A.P. Music”

Rap music has not been this socially conscious and gloriously militant since P.E. and Ice Cube, that’s my word. Killer Mike embodies the anger, frustration, and anti-political sentiment that many young black men - and dare I say, the multiracial hip-hop generation as a whole - feel but lack the voice to express. It’s like a revolution on wax - or digital download. I strongly believe that El-P’s manic, calculated chaos style of production brought out the Black Panther aggression in Mike that much more, which makes for an incredible artist-producer combination.

CHECK OUT: “Big Beast,” “Untitled,” and “Reagan.”

Roc Marciano - “Reloaded”

I recently had a Twitter convo with Roc Marciano’s manager, JAZZ, in which I called Roc “Kool G. Rap reincarnated,” and he understood the correlation. Roc’s been a serial verse killer since “The Heist” off Busta Rhymes’s “Anarchy” LP (2000). Don’t get me started about his verse on “Cake.” I’ve never doubted his ability but I didn’t think he could top 2010’s “Marcberg” and he fucking outdid himself with “Reloaded.” This is unadulterated New York City hip-hop in its rawest, grittiest form - like someone resurrected the 90’s with a shot of adrenaline to the heart. Lyrically, Roc Marci paints pictures of “fly gangsters,” guns, drugs, and sex better than any blaxploitation film - this, and the 90’s analogy, is not to suggest that his style is some remnant of the faded past; rather, it’s to state that very few MC’s are stringing words together as slickly as Roc Marciano.

CHECK OUT: “Flash Gordon,” “76,” and “Mind Spray (feat. KA).”

KA - “Grief Pedigree”

In any inner-city neighborhood where hustlers’ ambitions coexist with broken dreams, you’ll find a soldier who’s literally seen, heard, and done it all, and lived to tell the tale. Not a tale of braggadocio, but of the pros and cons of the street life and how each side bears a hefty price. These are called jewels and such a soldier is deserving of the title “O.G.” This is KA. “Grief Pedigree” is a criminally incredible album and a perfect example of the quiet voice speaking the loudest. Listen to the intense desperation of “Summer,” the choose-your-own-adventure wisdom of “Decisions,” and “Cold Facts” with lines like, “y’all rode with Kojaks , I got Berettas” that only 70’s and 80’s babies could decipher, and the infamous and true testament to the block, “I own the night, the heat’s my receipt.” Respect the Older Gods.


House Shoes. “Let It Go” | Ab-Soul, “Control System” | Strong Arm Steady, “Stereotype” \ The Killers, “Battle Born” 


“Now before I get pegged as some old school dude that won’t listen to new music I will explain my criteria. I respect the art and all aspects. The nod factor, lyrical content, and production values holds true. As a gauge the far ends of the spectrum would be Rick Ross/Nikki minaj would be the far Right ( high production value low lyrical substance. ) Far left would be a Homeboy Sandman/ (high lyrical substance mediocre production value). This year there was so much to listen to. Roc Marciano had a great album this year filling my Stalley type underground dope fix. The Mabach music family kept the clubs bumping along with Young Money. But the loud addictive beats was just that. Which leads us to my choices for album of the year.” - Stress [ManifestoMag]

Nas - Life is Good

Life is Good is damn good. It is a mature rap album with the seasoned vet showcasing how he is still arguably the best lyricist alive. The heartfelt “Daughters” struck hood dudes and others alike with his depiction of a dad trying to raise his daughter the right way in today’s world. Other tracks like ” Locomotive” and ” Worlds an Addiction” show he didn’t lose a beat with time and divorce. Speaking of which, his song “Bye Baby” let his fans into his short lived marriage to Kelis. He proves he’s human unlike some of his musical competitors which is refreshing in today’s big dick rapper free for all. Overall production was tight. The beats sound thought out and fit the entire soundscape. In all Life is Good is a vision well executed. Salute Rapper Nas.

Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid M.A.A.D. City

The only reason he is my number two is his youth and production value. It’s rare that a first timer has such a justified buzz. Granted he had Dr. Dre as him exec producer he still brought to the table today’s hip hop youth with a brilliant delivery and actually saying more than 50 words in a song. But his youth is what kept him from getting the number one. I feel once he focuses his content his delivery and production guidance will fall into a greater album. Look out for the sophomore.


Master Ace - Ma Doom: Son Of Yvonne

This album’s mix of lyrics and beats is an instant classic in my eyes. Two vets just doing the do.

Honorable Mentions:

Miguel - Kaleidoscope Dream - get that thought of the new Prince out your head and listen to the album. Great writing with great arrangement.

Elle Varner - this album reminded me of the freshness of Donell Jones first album. Very dope.

Roc Marciano- this was a tough one. This album was really entertaining. Cured my real hip hop fix left void by an ok Mic Tyson - Sean Price and a lack of a new Stalley or Asher Roth album.

Preach [ManifestoMag]

Robert Glasper Experience - ‘Black Radio’

I’ve heard the question surrounding this album. ‘Is it Jazz?’, asked the New York Times. My rebuttal? ‘Yes and no and who cares?! It’s GOOD music.’ The quartet fronted by the Houston native has not only stirred souls with this latest album, they’ve actually managed the feat of fusing R&B, hip-hop, jazz and soul in such a way that every song not only shatters but re-defines the boundaries of each genre. Just the cover of Nirvana’s iconic ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ on first listen is illuminating. Make no mistake, this album is as much a masterpiece as it is a powerful blow against the musical mediocrity that has taken root for a decade now.

Sean Born - ‘Behind The Scale’

‘Behind The Scale’ without question is an album that should be discussed in the same vein as Raekwon’s ‘OB4CL’, Nas’ ‘Illmatic’ and other early ‘90’s era classics that depict the struggle of cats on the corners. This is that Acura Legend, Helly Hansen rap that is slowly re-asserting itself in every verse that Born drops. The production that includes fellow DMV artists Kev Brown, Oddisee and Hassan Mackey is pristine, interlaced with clips from ‘Fresh’ to give it that much more of a cinematic appeal. ‘Honor’ is a track that has seen its birth in the weary eyes and tired feet of hustlers hugging the block, one that still brims with pride. ‘Queen Anne’ with its kicks and snares sounds like it needs to be on a sequel to ‘New Jack City.’ Born’s easy, matter-of-fact delivery is potent and lively on every track here. ‘Behind The Scale’ is so addictive it’ll make you think of trey bags.

Brother Ali - ‘Mourning In America, Dreaming In Color’

2012 will be earmarked as a year that saw tensions of all kinds boil over and scald the citizenry of America into seeing themselves as they are. Ugly, sad, but hopeful and dreaming all at once. Brother Ali manages to paint this picture on his latest album with the masterful producer Jake One on the boards. Ali doesn’t solely spit here, he becomes a magnetic storyteller who is telling you exactly what’s outside of your door and in the hearts of many you pass by. From ‘Mourning In America’ where he skillfully draws parallels between life in the ghettoes to overseas conflicts and suffering to ‘Won More Hit’ which presents a scathing correlation between the recording industry and the slave trade, Brother Ali puts forth an album that not only speaks to hip-hop fans, but everyone. And that matters more than partisanship of any kind.

Honorable Mentions: Karriem Riggins, ‘Alone Together’, Apollo Brown
& OC ‘Trophies’, Me’shell Ndegeocello ‘Pour Une Âme Souveraine: A Dedication To Nina Simone’


K.Soze [ManifestoMag]

Frank Ocean - “Channel Orange”

What is there to say about Frank Ocean that has not been said already? If all it took to be able to produce eclectic, soulful music, nowadays, was for more men to come out of the closet…I wonder how many would step to the plate. Frank Ocean, is hands down my favorite artist from The Odd Future crew, and also, the same young man who alongside an Otis Redding sample, gave 2011’s “Watch The Throne” all the soul it needed for two lifetimes. Fast forward to 2012, tell me “Pyramids” didn’t remind you of Stevie Wonders’ 8 min opus, “Superwoman” where the music transforms, and the overall theme he’s singing about remains intact. It felt like a noticeable change in temperature, all while remaining in season. Often times, only seasoned veterans have the mind, and ear to do this. “Fertilizer” also reflects Stevie’s sound and vocals, only before, he moves on to another great inspiration. “Pilot Jones” & “Monks” sonically, have Prince written all over it. For the entire album he showcases his love for all styles of music, all while keeping true to his unique voice for the entire album. What can I say, like Bruce Leroy looking for his master, the young man studies his arts. Although he will soon realize, he already embodies the very thing he’s looking for.

I’ll end with this…anybody who starts their album with the Sony PlayStation booting up to Street Fighter 2, and ends with an André 3 Stacks guest verse, on their debut album, gets the utmost respect in my book, sorry Aubrey/Drake maybe next lifetime.

CHECK OUT: Thinkin Bout You, Sierra Leone, Sweet Life, Super Rich Kids, Pilot Jones, Pyramids, and Lost

Deftones - “Koi No Yokan”

I won’t lie; I’m a Deftones fan, who never bought one of their full albums. Instead of bootlegging their entire catalog, I decided to purchase all my favorite songs from their six albums discography, in hopes to create the 15 - 17 track album, they never released commercially. I know what you’re thinking, what about White Pony? Although “Knife Party” is indeed one of my favorite songs, the album is a classic, which for me, was a few songs shy of being incredible. I love Tool, I love Perfect Circle’s “Thirteenth Step” and I enjoy a good Smashing Pumpkins song every now and then. And The Deftones is a mix of them all, but why can’t they pull it all together?

Why after 25 years, am I still a Deftones fan? Because I like many others know this band can play…VERY GOOD. And I waited a looong time for a strong cohesive album. And guess what on their seventh album, we finally get a balanced and refined mesh of metal, and melody. I feel this is their most aggressive album, in years. Even with a title “Koi No Yokan” which is Japanese for “Premonition of Love.”

Chino sets of the opening track with no whispers, but with passionate aggression on “Swerve City.” Got your attention? It got mine. Then on “Leathers” Moreno demonstrates how he stands apart from most rock singers in his generation, with his ability to alternate between spot-screaming, and soulful harmonizing reminiscent of another singer who master this gift, Maynard Keenan. He then showcases his softer side on the dark, and moody ballad, entitled “Entombed” This song scares men, but don’t be. Some assume it’s about his band mate Chi Cheng, who was left in a coma, from a near fatal car accident in 2008. If it is, he embodied the love for his comrade, in a way most non-homophobic male artists understand. People grow up. It’s ethereal, it’s sensitive, and it’s amazing. Much better than the previous album’s attempt “Sextape.”

“Romantic Dreams” “Graphic Nature” and “Rosemary” all demonstrate great melodies, in a genre that sacrifices it, with instruments the screech, play staccato, and produce menacing tones. “Poltergeist” “Goon Squad” reminds us all of the groups Alternative Metal roots, all while ending with a “What Happened To You?” A song that replaces aggression with a fearless display of emotional vulnerability. The song writing is strong and passionate, layered over a wonderful mix of rock, and melody. Some call it Emo, I say it articulates the spirit of an album entitled Premonition Of Love honestly. If the group can continue to maintain their emotional vulnerability, fierce sonic edge, and improve when they waver from one extreme to the next, we might have another great album soon. The internet generation will not wait 25 years for it to develop, but on this album I am glad some of us did.

CHECK OUT: Swerve City, Leathers, Entombed, Romantic Dreams, Poltergeist, Goon Squad, and What Happened To You?


Lianne La Havas - “Is Your Love Big Enough?”

Admit it. You like I, didn’t know who the hell this woman was! Lol   So how could she have one of the best albums of the year? Especially when she is up against heavy weights like Rihanna, Alicia Keys, P!nk, and Christina Aguilera, who also released new albums in 2012. Lets take a trip back to how she got here.

Lianne was born in London, England to a Greek father and a Jamaican mother. Her mother played with Jill Scott and Mary J. Blige, and her father, an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, taught her the basics of guitar and piano. La Havas began singing at age seven, wrote her first song at 11, but did not learn to play the guitar until she was 18. Lianne decided early, to leave college, and later signed to Warner Bros. Records in 2010. She spent two years developing her songwriting skills while dropping her first EP Lost & Found in 2011. And on her debut album “Is Your Love Big Enough” she takes her time to let you in, while showcasing her musical, songwriting, and vocal maturity. All of this accomplished before her 23rd birthday!

On the opening track “Don’t Wake Me Up” you get a strong feel for the vibe of the album, and Lianne’s ability to be soft, sensual, and strong in a matter of breaths. She is impressive. She is soulful, open, and focused. “Lost & Found” got her a lot of buzz from her EP, but its “Au Cinema” that remains one of my absolute favorites. So creative and romantic, her she displays her story telling skills wonderfully. “No Room For Doubt” is a gentle intimate folk song duet. Again showing she doesn’t need to hit high notes to be heard. On “Forget” she gets edgy, and funky, and picks up the pace again. Showing if she wanted to, she could battle with any pop songstress, if she cared to. One of my favorites is “Elusive” it’s sensual, and incredible poetic. She said “My destiny lies in the hands that set me free.” Left me speechless. On “Gone” she showcases how heartbreak makes us all stronger if we allow it. She is at her strongest, and her fiercest, on this song. Doing what Adele, did last year, no gimmicks just raw emotion, and great singing. This album was released July 9th 2012 in the UK, and in late 2012, her album was named iTunes Album of the Year. It’s taking no time for people to catch on, trust me, we haven’t seen the last of Lianne, or her best work just yet.

CHECK OUT: The Entire Album.

Honorable Mentions for Albums in 2012:

*These are solid albums in every way, and they are better than everything I heard in 2012. I wish we had more slots, wait, I am the co-founder. HaHa! Maybe next year. ;)

1) Norah Jones – Little Broken Hearts

2) Bruno Mars – Unorthodox Jukebox

3) T.I. - Trouble Man: Heavy Is the Head

4) Game – Jesus Piece

5) Lupe Fiasco – Food And Liquor II The Great American Rap Album Part1

6) Slaughterhouse – Welcome to Our House

7) Substantial-Home is Where The Art Is

8) Voice – Voice Presents Cutz


Mixtapes of The Year

Levar F.M. [ManifestoMag]

Action Bronson x Alchemist - “Rare Chandeliers”

At this stage in his career, with the work he’s put in over the last year, the only comparison that should be made between Ghostface Killah and Action Bronson is that Bronsolinio possesses Witty Unpredictable Talent And Natural Game. He continues to drop so many obscure references to the most random shit, along with his usual topics of weed, sex, and gourmet cuisine - you know, the finer things in life - and does it greatly, especially with the assist from Alchemist. This is a mixtape that should’ve come with a price tag. Features by frequent collaborators Meyhem Lauren and AG Da Coroner, plus Roc Marciano, ScHoolBoy Q, Evidence, Big Twinz, Sean Price, and Styles P.

Honorable Mention: Domo Genesis x Alchemist, “No Idols” \ See.Francis, “Red Lights”

Preach [ManifestoMag]


It’s essentially a beat tape, yes. But a beat tape that knocks like SWAT teams at
the stroke of dawn. Jackson Nakanishi represents Sacramento royally here and will
definitely be on the rise. ‘Stay Cool’ is strident and flush with a neck-snapping beat to it.
‘Life Is’ sounds exactly as if it was a set piece for one of Sonny Chiba’s films from
back in the 70’s with crisp horns and a harmony that demands you keep this track on
repeat. If you aren’t familiar with this, please correct that error.


Stalley - Savage Journey To The American Dream

The Maybach Music Group MC out of Ohio does it again on yet another mixtape heads
will wish was an album release. Stalley holds court with more introspective and efficient
raps backed up mostly by the Block Beattaz on the production tip. ‘Route 21’ is made for
road trips, with Stalley’s voice draped in a dreamy beat that speaks to slick asphalt and
taillights. ‘Hammers & Vogues’ with Curren$y joining in makes me want to hear this
posted up in front of Wet Willies down off South Beach. Stalley is setting himself up
lovely here with this drop.

Freddie Joachim - Waiting

This man gets better and better with every release he puts out. It’s almost unfair to
call it a mixtape. In another time, this would rival releases by the late Terry Callier.
With each track chock full of sweeping chords, magnetic harmonies and a bassline that
kicks heavy to connect back to his hip-hop roots, Joachim is ensuring his position as one
of the better producers on record no matter what genre he chooses.


Stress [ManifestoMag]

Action Bronson - Blue Chips

I was digging this album until someone told me he sounded like Ghostface. Then I realized holy shit he did. I was in denial. But his cadence deliver and beat selection kinda sullied my opinion. Thanks Blak.

K.Soze [ManifestoMag] 

Joey Bada$$ - 1999

Even in 2012, where Southern pop rap reigns supreme, no matter what, Brooklyn keeps on taking it! At least that is what Pro Era Crew member Joey Bada$$ still carries as his MC mantra. I never thought I would see a time machine in my lifetime, and guess what, I still haven’t, but I know for a fact this mutha.phuckka stole the DeLorean from Doc. Brown’s garage. No BS.

At least that is what it felt like listening to him and Capital STEEZ, god rest the dead, on this mixtape laced with witty rhymes, smooth flows, 90’s vernacular, and a classic return to the boom bap / jazz / soul sampled sound of the 1990’s. With production from MF Doom, Lord Finesse, and J Dilla, how could it not be? This mixtape plays more like an album, taking me back to Boot Camp Click, Black moon, Wu-Tang, Main Source, A Tribe Called Quest, and dare I say NAS. Beats and Rhymes. What is there not to love? This cat is in the fore front with ASAP Rocky, leading the new generation of rappers back to NYC and from there around the globe.

Check Out: Waves, Survival Tactics, Hardknock, Funky Ho, Don’t Front, Righteous Minds, and the posse cut Suspect.


The Weeknd – Trilogy

I know this is a re-release of three mixtapes, from last year, one of which was one of our very own favorites in last year’s The Dozens. But, I will keep it brief. This Ethiopian / Canadian R&B recording artist and record producer’s material beats the bricks off of most of the mixtapes that dropped this year, and even some LP’s.  So as we all await his debut, how about f*ck a technicality.

Joe Budden - A Loose Quarter

Guess who’s a Joe Budden, not a “Joe Buddens” fan. And a Slaughterhouse fan? I AM. This cat raps circles around your favorite rapper and MC, all while being emotionally vulnerable, and intelligent as all living hell! Only Phonte, and maybe Kanye, and a *few others can say the same thing in this current rap era. Although Joey can out rap Ye’, Phonte could out sing them both, and Kanye leads them both on production, not fashion sense, so I call it even. Lol  Joe, shares the same gift and curse Eminem, Jay-Z, and Nas (the living greats) have. Notice how I kept them out of the convo initially. They are clearly on another level, again sorry Ye’ lol They all share the ability to write, openly, honestly, diversely, and can battle ferociously.

On this mixtape, Joey goes in on a few songs all while showcasing the maturity of his song writing skills. “Yawl don’t have to be drunk to feel this genuine draft.” Simple and clever, not his best, but it shows Joey cares about the writting, whether he is telling you, yelling at you, or showing you. “Momma Said” and “Of 2 The Races” are two of the strongest songs he has ever made. He touches on family, parents, relationships, success, failure, addiction, soul mates and depression. Well done, so many scathing truths to mention, and they are matched sonically with music, that can and should be replayed. I like where Joe is going with his music, he sounds passionate, focused, and dare I say, he ounds like he’s having fun! I hope it stays this way, for him and all his fans. It feels like we are only seeing a quarter of where he can reallly go with his talent. 

Check Out: “Cut From A different Cloth” “Through my Eyes” “Momma Said” “Off 2 The Races” “Pain Won’t Stop” “All In My Head”

Roach Spray (Over Rated)

Trinidad James.

Come. The. Fuck. ON. Looks aside, this dude is basically the lyrical epitome of a gallon jug of quarter water with a bag of stale ‘Big BOL’ gum to go with it. I keep thinking Robert Townsend is going to pop out somewhere and tell us he’s part of an ad campaign for the sequel to ‘Hollywood Shuffle.’

G.O.O.D Music.

Don’t nobody wanna fuck with your clique. Save for a few (very few) golden moments, “Cruel Summer” was a throwaway vanity project that, prior to its release, seemed like it could have been a sweet follow-up to “Dark Fantasy.” Perhaps Kanye knew this would not be so, and so he made sure to drop the summer-themed album a season later than expected. The end result was a compilation of tracks that sound like there were too many club drugs floating around in that Hawaii studio. Of the actual G.O.O.D. Music family members, Pusha T is the only one who brings home the bacon (okay … and Big Sean). The inclusion of 2Chainz, hip-hop’s newest drunk uncle, does more harm than good, and the long-asked question remains: Didn’t Q-Tip and Mos Def sign with G.O.O.D. Music,? Where are they, Yeezy? AAAHN??

2 Chainz’s - Based on a T.R.U. Story

I will keep this brief. 2 Chainz is one of the hardest working artists in the game right now. And he took Lil Wayne’s crown as the radio hit remix king. He stays hungry. But honestly he sounded full, or famished on the entire album. I respect his hustle; just hate this album in every way, minus the Cuban Links on the cover. Hey, that’s some strong foreshadowing, though he just go gold. lol Maybe he’ll have platinum jewelry on the next album cover. Not sure it will get my listen though.

Singles of The Year


Frank Ocean - ‘Pyramids’

This track is so many things at once it should be laminated and put on a bar menu. Full of soul and snap and gets better with each spin.

Action Bronson - ‘Northern & Roozy’

An underrated track from Bronsolini in a year where he blazed a bigger trail for himself, ‘Northen Roozy’ is full of gritty nostalgia best taken in with a good drink.

The Black Keys w/RZA - ‘Baddest Man Alive’

Swagger drips off every note of this standout joint from the soundtrack to The RZA’s kung fu epic, ‘The Man With The Iron Fists’

Stress [ManifestoMag]

Mainstream single of the year. Hmm. That I actually liked? I guess it would be. Frank Ocean - Thinking Bout You.

 Levar F.M. [ManifestoMag

Kendrick Lamar, “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe”

I think that the most frivolous complaint about “good kid MAAD city” was that Kendrick “does that annoying alien voice shit” too much; is that really a valid gripe? Andre 3000 did the same exact thing all over “Aquemini.” At any rate … Kendrick, almost defiantly, makes it clear that while other artists are content with sacrificing integrity for commercial success, he is winning by remaining true to self.

K.Soze [ManifestoMag]

Psy – “Gangnam Style”

Psy the Korean singer / rapper / entertainer / mastermind took the world by storm with this song! With a song which parodies everything pop music worships, all while creating a new dance and a song saturated by satire. And after all the heavy issues of the year, is there any doubt it would be a hit in 2012.

Rihanna – “Diamonds”

She might not make the most cohesive albums at times, but they always have between 1-3 hit singles on them every year she drops one! Who else can say that, Taylor Swift, umm negative. Diamonds just carries this Barbadian’s dance and radio legacy into pop royalty. 

Kanye West feat. Big Sean, Pusha T & 2 Chainz – “Mercy”

Don’t call him Kanye or Mr. West anymore. Ye’ misses the summer with his G.O.O.D. Music debut, but manages to capture 2012 with 4 anthems that stole all 4 seasons, in 2012, while showcasing the best his crew has to offer. Sleeper verse on this track, is Pusha T of course, who in my opinion murked’ everyone on it. This alone, makes me forgive Kanye for having Big Sean on it. Lol What a great track, Kanye takes us back to the basics on here. Just beats and rhymes. Even when he’s singing the g*d keeps it Hip-Hop.

CONTRABAND (Guilty Pleasures)

Preach [ManifestoMag] 

Bruno Mars, ‘Locked Out Of Heaven’

I happen to dig Bruno Mars as an artist. But this track right here? It’s addictive, like
‘Friday Night Videos’ addictive. And it feels like you really could rock out to this with a
fine lady while in matching stonewashed jeans and neon Reebok Pump Hi-tops.

Levar F.M.

Future, “Turn Off The Lights”

I don’t believe that Future can sing very well, but I’m sure he’s not too concerned. I don’t know if buddy raps. In fact, all I do know is that “Turn Off The Lights” is my shit and that Mike Will Made It - literally, Mike Will made the song a killer with the beat. It’s one of those songs that might make you wanna retch the first 70 times you hear it on the radio, but by Spin Number 72, you’ll want to drive recklessly while drunk with the stereo turned up to ignorant levels. At the same damn time.

K.Soze [ManifestoMag]

Sean Price, “Mic Tyson”

I was raised on Boot Camp Click, Smif-n-Wessun, and Heltah Skeltah.  That being said, I like many others, waited patiently for this album. After Random Axe and Sean P’s mixtape dropped in the last few years, the MC’s buzz and anticipation was strong. We got blessed with a dope album cover, shout out to my man Raphael Tanghal on the illustration. Everything appeared to be going in the right direction. Right out the gate I loved “Bar-Barian” and “Hush” on this album, but later on I started feeling like most of the hooks were weak off of “Mic Tyson.”  Not a reflection of either champs’ resume, be it Iron Mike, or Sean Price. That being said, lyrically Sean is still a beast, or a Gorilla, as he puts it. Lol  “Pyrex” “Price & Shinning Armor” “Bully Rap” “Battering Bars” and the “The Hardest Nigga Out” showcase his brilliance. Sean still has his sense of humor, when on the “Title Track” he rapped about “keeping it Koser, like Shyne Po.’” Lol

This album is only a guilty pleasure, because it’s not his strongest album, and it’s 15 tracks of sophisticated sh*t talking!  Lol  And as much as I know it, I love it, and I keep going back to it, for my favorite joints!  Even if I was left still waiting for more. I’ll see what the g*d cooks up next time, cause I’m still hungry, and there is only one P! 


“New God Flow.1” – Kanye West Ft. Ghostface Killah & Pusha T

“Ya nigga, y’all had my, I had my Jesus piece since ‘94
I don’t know what I, I don’t know what you’re talkin’ bout
And my eagle — Still got it all in the bag, B
All you did was play possum
Yo, come on
Six hundred Cuban cigar in the big tub
Medallion on, Dove soap on the fresh cut
With soap suds on the Mac-11
My big lion haven’t ate since twelve
And it’s after seven
We feed the nigga like forty chickens
His tail wag when I send him a bag with just one victim
Uh-huh, now let me show you what my closet on
Gems in the display case, call it a rock-a-thon
I got soccer moms paying for cock
Asians get it from behind while they cleanin’ their wok
Coming with flows that’s toxic
Deadly fumes when I’m in the room
Repercussions occur when you dry snitch
Red light, green light
One, two, three
Look mean, got my machine
Cried and hit you, please
Say shake that body, scar up that body
Should I kill him now Ton’? I said probably
Side bets, I form better
Bust hammers with pot holders
And yo, dead a cow for his fuckin’ leather
I’m not bow-legged but old school like red fox
My favorite color in my hustle days was red tops
My gold eagle arm shitted out a red rock
Threw it off my project roof, saw red dots
Kanye, shine a light on my Wallabees
You can have a good time with G.O.D”

-[Verse 4: Ghostface]

That is how you make an already incredible song, legendary. Take notes youngins’




THE DOZENS...Mixtapes of The Year.


12 mixtapes, 12 collages of cool.


elZhi - elMatic

No disrespect to Fashawn, who did an excellent “Illmatic” revisit of his own, but eLZ
is and always has been a beast. He and Will Sessions made an album that could truly
stand apart from its predecessor. - Levar F.M.

Stalley – Lincoln Way Nights

One of the best mixtapes from an up and coming MC.  Hands down best
for content overall. It’s way too thorough for a mixtape category. It
can literally take on any album released this year.  - Stress

Danny Brown – XXX

Quickly becoming a favorite MC of mine. Detroit got MC’s and Danny
Brown is hanging with the elite. He tightropes the perfect balance of
hardcore lyrics with over the top delivery. - Stress

50 Cent – The Big Ten

Late comer in the year but worth the wait. Had the feel of an old
school 50 mixtape and was equipped with his sing songy hooks hard
lyrics and infectious beats it rivals, but does not beat out War Angel.
- Stress

Cocaine ’80s - Ghost Lady

No I.D. on the boards and a cast of talented musicians with Common at
the forefront make up Cocaine ’80s and provided this mid-summer gem,
the second of two EPs. Listen to this and tell me you’re not feeling it.
- Preach

Pusha T - Fear of God

1/2 of The Clipse, Pusha made 2011 his year for slinging clever metaphors
and this mixtape further solidified his position among today’s elite MC’s and
got him a roster spot on Kanye’s G.O.O.D. label. Anyone who doubts Pusha’s
influence can only look across the blogosphere and see how much this album
was part of people’s soundtracks. - Preach

Frank Ocean - Nostalgia

The NOLA native and R&B standout from the Odd Future clan made this mixtape
a bold announcement of his talent to the world…and still remained out of the
public eye enough to stoke up more intrigue. Listening to this mixtape, you got
the feeling that you were listening to the birth of a musical genius. - Preach

B.o.B. - Every Play Is Crucial

Bobby Ray has JOINTS on here. On “God’s Gift” he spazzes out lovely. And it’s stocked with
a nice balance of tracks with features and the ATL native on his solo mission. - K.Soze

The Weekend - House of Balloons

This Toronto singer pretty much made this mixtape THE go-to slow jam joint
of 2011. You know it’s serious when you hear it bumping out of Dominican hair
salons as you walk by. - Preach

Money Making Jam Boys - The Prestige:Jam Boy Music

The Prestige - Jam Boy Magic is better than most peoples albums!
- K.Soze

Cold Day In Hell - Freddie Gibbs

Serious hardcore rap with mellow beat production makes Freddie Gibbs’ effort
a winner here from coast to coast. Trunk music for the digital age. - Preach

STS - The Illustrious

Philly’s got another gem for it’s hip-hop crown right here with this
man’s mixtape. - K.Soze


THE DOZENS: Singles of The Year

12 singles, 12 shots of musical style.


Nas - “Nasty”

A sincere “fuck you” if you don’t think that Nasir Bin Olu Dara Jones didn’t snap on this. Make room for the King, ni—a.

Snoop Dogg - “Its D Only Thing”

The West Coast G’s shoutout to the Pittsburgh Steelers off ‘Doggumentary’ is SERIOUS
motivational hip-hop. David Banner on the boards makes the bass snap extra hard.

Slaughterhouse 2011 BET HipHop Awards Cypher

Yelawolf, Slaughterhouse and Em changed this cipher FOREVER with this performance.
Not a single in the technical sense but we bet you have it on your iPod..Hi Rihanna.

‘Give It To You’ - Elle Varner w/ J.Cole

Remember those days where your day wasn’t complete without a fly sister dropping
sweet melodies over a hip-hop breakbeat? Elle Varner fulfills your fix with the help
of Young Simba himself.

Electric Sunshine - Recloose

One of those ambient dance tracks that can make you move and put you at ease,
Recloose shows another side of the ongoing musical re-emergence of Detroit.

You Already Knew - Black Star

Talib Kweli and Yaasin Bey gave us a sample of what’s to come with their new
album in 2012 with this quintessential soul-filled track.

The Greatness - Pac Div

The SoCal hip-hop trio put their stamp on 2011 with this lead single from their
album, The Div.

Rolling In The Deep - Adele

The British songstress threw us all for a loop with this song from her second album,
and inspired a few superstar covers.

N——s In Paris - Jay-Z & Kanye West

The track that inspired umpteen freestyles, spawned not one but TWO catchphrases
of the year and was also responsible for an NYC subway rendition not soon forgotten
on Youtube.

Words I Never Said - Lupe Fiasco w/Skylar Grey

Lupe channels his label frustrations and other issues perfectly into this track, supported
by stirring vocals from Skylar Grey and in the process expanded his fanbase greatly.

Thursday - The Weeknd

This song made The Weeknd a star and raised more than eyebrows on the ladies.

Lonely Boy - The Black Keys

Serious hard-driving rock made this the centerpiece for their album El Camino.


THE DOZENS...Albums of The Year


12 Albums, 12 more additions to your collection from the team.


Preach’s 3 Picks for 2011

This was a difficult process only because 2011 was chock full of albums
that caught the eye and made residence in your gut. These three albums
aren’t my top 3, but they made the year that much more vivid.

Oddisee - Rock Creek Park

The album as travelogue is a classic element of music. That
said, it can be hit-or-miss. Oddisee, the extraordinary MC
and producer out of Washington DC and part of Mello Music
Group strikes gold with Rock Creek Park. Listening to this
album envelops you in sultry sounds that have all the heft of
hip-hop’s drums and enough soul to make Afro-Sheen entertain
a comeback. Each track on this EP has immediate replay value.
Oddisee displays a true gift of interpreting scenes and sight
through sound; “Closed After Dark” conveys the electricity
of U Street at night, and ‘Scenic Route To You’ has all the flavor
of a summer BBQ over by Shaw Ave. Rock Creek Park is indeed
a can’t miss part of your soundtrack while stepping through the
nation’s capital.

Theivery Corporation - Culture of Fear

It seems that this new album from Thievery Corporation was made to
be a rallying cry for 2011, a year that saw the Middle East forever
changed by revolution and the rise of dissent against corruption and
economic hardship in the form of Occupy Wall Street here in the States.
The sixth album from Eric Hilton and Rob Garza doesn’t disappoint at
all, with their ambient sound that truly reflects a global voice within. It’s
thought-provoking yet soothing. Culture of Fear is at it’s best with tracks
like ‘Tower Seven’, an insistent melody that speaks to its dub roots and
carries a powerful message without words getting in the way. “Take My
Soul” is another standout, with the gentle vocals of LouLou Ghelichkhani
making this track a perfect backdrop for a lounge, hookah bar or a rally.
Culture of Fear is one of those albums that has the possibility to be the
framework for moments of the soul one is just allowing themselves to

Action Bronson & Statik Selektah - Well Done

Action Bronson broke into the hip-hop world and threw everyone for a
loop. Doubters called him everything from a Ghostface clone to a mockery
and all he’s done in response is make himself one of the top MC’s to watch
as 2011 closed. Nothing brought that point home more than his collaboration
with Statik Selektah for his follow-up to Dr. Lecter, Well Done. The album is
a powerhouse, taking you back to the days of New York hip hop when they
used to pump full albums on college radio stations late nights. Action doesn’t
make the contemporary move of overloading his album with guest features;
in fact the guest artists complement the entire EP greatly. ‘Cocoa Butter’
Nina Sky is a slice of smooth, and ‘Terror Death Camp’ with his ace Mayhem
Lauren and BK up-and-comer Maffew Ragazino is a neck-snapper. And “Not
Enough Words” should be on anyone’s motivational playlist. Statik Selektah
contributes impeccable production, helping Bronsonlini to craft a winning
musical dish.

Levar FM’s 3 Picks of 2011

My reply to @Combat_Jack regarding 2011 being an outstanding year for hip-hop was based in the notion that there must be a tremendous shift in where you search for quality music, and terrestrial radio and bullshit singles-only mixtapes ain’t those places.

Pharoahe Monch. Phonte. Random Axe. Danny Brown - and Danny Brown and Black Milk. The Roots. Roc Marciano. TiRon x Ayomari. Pac Div. Action Bronson. Countless others. There were so many out-the-gate certified smashes this year, it’s made this an incredibly difficult task; how do I whittle down my favorites to a list of THREE?

I tried.

M.E.D. - Classic

One of the deciding factors for me to deem an album “great” is how many
fast-forward-worthy tracks it has. MED’s “Classic” has none. Stellar production
by Georgia Anne Muldrow, Alchemist, Karriem Riggins, and the dynamic sibling
duo of Madlib and Oh No (the former providing the majority of the album’s sound)
serve as a proper complement to MED’s off-kilter delivery. This disc may be one
that only the die-hard Stones Throw set can appreciate, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t
head and shoulders above most other rappers’ ‘11 efforts. 

Kendrick Lamar - Section.80

There’s a reason - several, actually - why it was a poignant moment
when Snoop Dogg crowned Kendrick Lamar the leader of the revived
West Coast hip-hop movement. “Section 80” is proof positive. The LP
plays like a concept album, built on the premise of a congregation gathered
around a bonfire moderated by an O.G. (think Furious Styles in “Boyz N The Hood”).
Whether he accepts it or not, Kendrick speaks on behalf of a generation, the 80’s
crack babies - issues like self-esteem, substance abuse, politics, and even
prostitution are prominently featured. The late GURU said, “It’s mostly the voice,”
and Kendrick’s voice breaks through with urgency. Heavy is the head that wears
the crown, but just don’t give him any handouts - he will break your wrist.

Common - The Dreamer/The Believer

Full disclosure - I waited all year for Common’s LP to drop. When you root
for an artist whose legacy is pretty much secure, but whose next move is always
scrutinized, you hope that artist knocks it out the park. Com did that. “Be” is
a certified classic and “Finding Forever” was solid, but “Universal Mind Control”
was … “Electric Circus” revisited. Consider “The Dreamer/The Believer” his return
to form. The album isn’t as well-rounded as “Be” but Common sounds comfortable
returning to work with No I.D. Relishing in his success (“Blue Sky”), reminding
October’s Very Own what happened to Ice Cube (“Sweet”) or taking shit back
to the Chi-Town hustler mentality (“Raw”), Rashid made sure the cipher was
complete for 2011.

Stress’ Top 3 Albums of 2011

My picks are based on the time each has stayed in my iPhone. And I
change Playlists every month.

Phonte-Charity Starts At Home

What can I say? Dope rhymes, Dope beats, real singing and rap hybrids,
dope all around outing from Phonte who seems to get better and better
after each outing.

2) Jay-Z & Kanye West - Watch the Throne

When I first heard this freaking thing I was hit from all sides. The
vintage beat selection, ping pong verbal sparring, and underlying
“theme” of this album gets my vote for one of the best of the year.

Radioactive - Yelawolf / The Roots Undun

These two came late in the year, but made it to my playlists for more
than two weeks. Solid production with unique beats and instrumentation
qualifies these into a toss up #3 for 2011. I was especially surprised
at the raw artistry of Yelawulf’s solid first outing.

K.Soze Picks

Murs & Ski Beatz - Love & Rockets Vol.1: The Transformation

This album is FIRE. Full of West Coast flavor and expert lyricism we’ve
come to expect from Mr. Murs.

Adele - 21

It’s hard to put out an amazing album on your first try, even harder to follow
it up with another one. Adele does just that with this gem.