(Board of Edu-tainment)
D. Roof is one busy dude. Age of the Hipster is his second album this year, and it's a change of pace for the righteous rapper. It kicks off with a heady spoken-word track before delivering an atmospheric onslaught of beats as Roof warns, "One day you loved like LeBron to the basket/Next day you buried like Biggie in a casket." Roof quotes guys like KRS-One, but the beats are more original. So is his "age of the hipster" concept. "The Freshness" samples what sounds like a flute while Roof does his best Michael Franti imitation, championing a "fresh approach" to life. "Piece or Peace" has a good conscious party vibe to it. But the ballad "What We Need (Love)" falls a bit flat, fortunately the exception to the rule here. — Jeff Niesel
D. Roof performs with Mike Nice and Big Bang Theory at 9:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 28, at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216.321.5588, grogshop.gs). Tickets: $10 advance, $12 day of show.
The guys in this Mentor band are all under 20, but they sound like seasoned professionals on their self-titled debut. Recorded locally at Jungle Studios by Brian Patrick, the album has a pop/rock/hip-hop sound that will make you want to get up and dance — especially the punchy, 311-like "Party With the Lights On!," one of the album's best tunes. The band slows things down on the ballad "See You Again" and the groovy Jack Johnson-inspired "Matter of Time" — tracks that showcase Zen's serious side and further proof that they sound like they've been doing this way longer than they actually have. — Julia Kazar