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Height 

Winterize the Game (Grand Man Records)

Height is the kind of smart, free-thinking, serious student of hip-hop who was conspicuously absent from VH1's The White Rapper Show. Winterize the Game positions him as the first standout of indie-rap's third wave, a worthy student of iconoclastic rhymers like Grand Buffet (who makes several guest appearances) and Cex (who stayed fun when Anticon got weird).

Years of taking copious notes on Run-D.M.C. pays off on Height's third disc. It's an old-school smorgasbord of retro synths, murky funk, and hypnotic loops. Guest producer Bow N' Arrow takes a double serving of sampled power chords and analog drum fills on "Smash Your Face," the kind of rumbling rock track Jay-Z probably paid Rick Rubin six figures to make. Rhyming like it's '88 all over again, Height drops a tough-nerd manifesto that satirizes rap's baller culture. Two more albums like this, and he could be well on his way to having 99 problems of his own.

Speaking of CD Review

More by D.X. Ferris

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