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Kendrick Lamar Overly Dedicated After the success of The Kendrick Lamar EP, Top Dawg Entertainment rapper Kendrick Lamar returns with Overly Dedicated, a 14-song project where the rapper formerly known as K-Dot continues delivering vivid lines, describing the life of a good kid from Compton. On tracks like “The Heart Pt. 2” and “Ignorance Is Bliss,” Lamar pours emotion into every bar as if his life depended on it. “Alien Girl” and “Opposites Attract” depict the ups and downs of male and female relationships, while “Growing Apart” and “P&P 1.5” are other standouts. O.D. is a smooth listen from beginning to end. – Randy Roper Terrace Martin & Devi Dev Here, My Dear Brought to you by rapper/producer Terrace Martin and radio personality Devi Dev, Here, My Dear is a 23-track presentation that tackles love, sex and relationships through T Mac’s musical direction. My Dear features an all-star cast -- Snoop Dogg, Murs, Kurupt, Dom Kennedy, Kendrick Lamar, U-N-I, Wiz Khalifa -- that allows Martin to take a backseat on rhymes. He still remains in the driver’s seat of the project’s production, where Martin’s jazz background takes his music beyond the realm of Hip Hop beats into compositions that would make Mozart envious. Along with Devi Dev and Terrace Martin’s skits, where the two discuss love and relationships to further develop the EP’s theme, Here, My Dear is musically and conceptually a Hip Hop gem. – Randy Roper Yukmouth Free At Last To celebrate being freed from jail, veteran rapper Yukmouth released his sixth album Free At Last on his own label, Smoke-aLot. As part of his celebration, Yukmouth called every artist he’s ever met to lay a verse on this album. Free At Last has a long list of guest features, including Jay Rock, Ya Boy, London, L.E.P. Bogus Boys, Gudda Gudda, Tity Boi, Messy Marv, Roccett, 211, and Curren$y. Despite sounding more like a compilation than a solo album, the first half of Free At Last is decent. The album’s quality wanes as it plays, but Yuk shows glimpses of still being capable of making good music. – Randy Roper

TiRon MSTRD MSTRD, the highly anticipated follow up mixtape from TiRon, is just as dope and soulful as its condiment-flavored predecessor, Ketchup. In just 10 cuts, MSTRD contains boy-meets-girl tales (“Ms. Right” & “Boys & Girls”), rags-to-riches stories (“The Richers” co-starring Asher Roth and Blu), and school yard flashbacks of a kid just trying to be cool (“Down”) that everyone can relate to. For those who love introspective rhymes over Hip Hop soul samples, TiRon appears to have that sound mastered. – Randy Roper Pac Div Don’t Mention It After releasing one of 2009’s best mixtapes in Church League Champions, the Pac Div trio of Like, Mibbs and BeYoung are back with another mixtape good enough to be an album. From “Birds” featuring Pill to “Broccoli” to “Don’t Forget The Swishers,” these Cali emcees have a way of making same old same topics like women, money and smoking weed sound fresh. Overall, Don’t Mention continues to showcase Pac Div’s strong lyrical ability over diverse and outstanding production, proving again that they are arguably the best new group coming from the Golden State. – Randy Roper Game & DJ Skee The Red Room If you actually sit through all 400 bars and 20 minutes of Track 1 on Game’s newest mixtape, you might not have the stamina or attention span for the other tracks on The Red Room. But if you make it through, you will come across a couple gems, like Nipsey Hussle and Game trading bars over Fat Joe’s “Slow Down (Ha Ha),” Wayne and Birdman showing their love for blood on “Everything Red,” and Pharrell’s assist on “It Must Be Me.” Unfortunately, the project is overall inconsistent. A large chuck of The Red Room is obviously a platform to showcase Game’s Black Wall Street artists, but at this point in his career, you’d expect more from an artist with three solid albums, looking to build momentum for his next LP The R.E.D. Album. – Randy Roper

Ozone West #85  

Ozone West #85

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