The Funky Side of Life
I'd love to know what cataloging system Madlib uses for his LP collection; the master DJ adds the most esoteric samples to his music. He produced, arranged and mixed The Funky Side of Life while working with an amazing group of jazz performers. See, Madlib's always leaned heavily toward jazz, and with this instrumental disc, he goes for broke. Sound Directions tackle be-bop, psychedelic soul and free-wheeling funk, slipping in beats under the radar to create fantastically layered music. -- Kara Luger
Chocolate Genius Inc.
Black Yankee Rock
Chocolate Genius really is Marc Anthony Thompson, who added the "Inc." to his pseudonym for his latest album, Black Yankee Rock. Thompson's still entrenched in n-soul, but he's certainly no D'Angelo -- for one, his voice isn't as pretty. In his defense, he's far more musically varied, combining textures and subtlety where the D'Angelo of old (not the new, puffy, oft-prosecuted D'Angelo) simply took off his shirt and flexed. While Thompson doesn't have the chops for crooners like "The Yes Eye," he manages to pound slinky funksters like "Tomboyrockstar."-- Kara Luger
Bang Sugar Bang
Thwak Thwak Go Crazy!!
Though I'm fairly sure female singer/ bassist Cooper isn't packin', there's no doubt she puts the "cock" back into "rock." Whether wailing like a Pat Benatar/Chrissie Hynde hybrid or sneering prettily into her beer, she yowls lines like, "He likes me 'cuz I match his car" in the bar sing-along "Tony." Thwak Thwak is a bit punk, quite a lot more rock, and something I really didn't expect to like. They save most of their rebellion for the record company, on tracks like "Kill the Radio" and the awkwardly drab "Major Label Interest," but for the most part, it's good ol' rock & roll fun. -- Kara Luger