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Shawn Charles 

Full Scholarship (I.V. League Entertainment)

Cleveland beatmaker Shawn Charles takes center stage on his solo debut. Well, sort of. The I.V. League Entertainment producer still backs a bunch of rappers on Full Scholarship. But instead of guesting on other people's albums, this time they're featured on his. Rime Royal's Furious and Speed drop some stellar verses over a minimal but banging beat on "Spotback." That's a common theme running throughout Full Scholarship: None of Charles' productions are all that complicated, but they work — from the heavy synths and 808 hits to the J Dilla-like soul of "Fly Away." Maybe the local mixmaster should take another cue from Dilla and make an all-instrumental record next time around. Then Charles would definitely be in charge. — Eddie Fleisher

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