Music in Brief

Tupac Shakur left behind such a formidable legacy that rappers can spend their entire careers exploring just one aspect of it. A good example is the man behind the angry snowman, Young Jeezy, who double-tracks vocals, 2Pac-style, so he can serve as his own greek chorus, hype-man and sidekick. Jeezy's infectious laughter and non-stop ad-libs are back on The Inspiration (Def Jam), the eagerly anticipated follow-up to his mega-platinum debut, Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101. Jeezy's subject matter doesn't extend much beyond the joys of selling cocaine and the material rewards that accompany it but like fellow Southerners Clipse and T.I and he spits snowman raps with rough-hewn charisma and unseemly enthusiasm. … B

North Carolina's beloved Little Brother is going through a period of profound upheaval. It parted ways with Atlantic after The Minstrel Show flopped. Revered producer 9th Wonder left the group and DJ Drama, who helped put out Little Brother's terrific Separate But Equal mixtape, was arrested in a bust that sent chills through the mixtape community. So there's never been a better time for a classic Little Brother mixtape, especially when mixtape maestro Mick Boogie and Little Brother are giving away And Justus For All for free at mickboogie.com and hallofjustus.com. Little Brother's latest combines star-studded remixes with Black Star, Skillz and Cormega and newfangled collaborations with Rhymefest, Talib Kweli, Supastition and its Hall Of Justus crew for an instant classic that lives up to the high standards set by the Chitlin Circuit mix-tapes and Separate But Equal. Little Brother may have gone from a trio to a duo but its commitment to quality remains. … A-

Talib Kweli and Madlib's Liberation EP also debuted as a free online download but it's now commercially available in limited quantities at specialty shops and websites like hiphopsite.com through Kweli's Blacksmith imprint. Here Madlib's blunted soundscapes, psychedelic samples and free-floating sonic weirdness give Kweli what he's desperately lacked for the last half-decade: cohesiveness and consistency. Of course it wouldn't be a Talib Kweli joint without geektastic references designed to bring joy to fanboys everywhere so on Liberation Kweli references Clive Owen in Sin City, the destruction of the parliament in V For Vendetta and the cast of Family Guy. The nine-track Liberation is Kweli's strongest project since Reflection Eternal… A-

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