ALBUM: ThisIsMe Then: The Best Of Common
LABEL: Sony Legacy
WHO HE IS: Lately, Common has become Hollywood’s new ladies man, but this compilation takes a look back at his earlier years when he was on Relativity Records. Focusing on highlights from his first three albums—Can I Borrow A Dollar?, Resurrection and One Day It’ll All Make Sense—ThisIsMe Then is a good introduction to his mid-’90s output. Still, it hardly lives up to the “Best Of” title, since his most critically-acclaimed and commercially successful material was released after this period. Note: this compilation also includes “High Expectations,” which originally appeared on the Soul In The Hole soundtrack.
PRODUCERS: No I.D., The Roots, James Poyser, The Beatnuts
GUESTS: Lauryn Hill, Cee-Lo, Erykah Badu and Q-Tip
“I Used To Love H.E.R.”
ALBUM: Dirty Acres
LABEL: APOS Music/Bad Taste Records
WHO THEY ARE: This Atlanta and Kentucky-based trio has held the flag for Southern underground hip-hop for the last 6 years, beginning with their slept-on 2001 debut Will Rap For Food. Garnering comparisons to soulful, ’90s-era Dungeon Family, rappers Deacon The Villain and Natti, along with producer Kno, are laying down more thick, thoughtful Southern rap with their fourth album Dirty Acres.
GUESTS: Devin The Dude, Big Rube, Phonte, Witchdoctor
“Yellow Lines” f/ Phonte & Witchdoctor
ALBUM: The Boatlift
LABEL: Diaz Bros./TVT
WHO HE IS: Since dropping his debut M.I.A.M.I. back in 2004, Mr. 305 has consistently served up a eclectic mix of hip-hop, Miami club music and Spanish-language flavor. But after he released a song about his record company called “Fuck TVT” earlier this year, it looked like the Cuban-American MC might be sailing away to a new record deal. Nope—it looks like Pit and the Diaz Brothers made nice with TVT in time to get a massive all-star lineup for his third studio album.
PRODUCERS: Lil Jon, Swizz Beatz, Mr. Collipark, Nitti, Diaz Brothers, Play-N-Skillz
GUESTS: T-Pain, Trina, Jim Jones, Twista, Fabo, Lloyd, Trick Daddy, Don Omar, Frankie J, Lil Jon & Yung Berg
“Secret Admirer” f/ Lloyd