What’s the skinny?

Killah Priest

Black August


Release date: July 8 (out now)

What the label says: “In an effort to cleanse rap’s tainted state, the Brooklyn rapper (born Walter Reed) has created a solid collection of beats, rhymes, and life that not only showcases his dedication to the art of MCing, but also introduces a fresh crop of producers whose rich soundscapes stand strong behind Killah Priest’s dense scripture.”

What this reviewer says: Killah Priest’s fourth album is his best and most focused since his incredible debut “Heavy Mental.” Aside from the annoying single “Robbery,” Priest goes back to his roots and mainly talks about ancient Egypt, government conspiracies, biblical text and what a great rapper he is.

Similar artists: Sunz of Man, Shabazz the Disciple

Sample lyrics: “Plus I’m not, 50, or Biggie, or Diddy/I’m Witty Unpredictable, lyrical masterful mind/Chapters of rhymes, irresistible lines, metaphors is clever than yours/Sever your jaws, I’m ready for war/Like Pac in his Machiavelli era” -“Do the Damn Thing”

Best song: “Breathe”

Worst song: “Robbery”

Rating: 8/10

Cooler Kids

Punk Debutante


Release date: July 1 (out now)

What the label says: “They’ve crafted an effusive, upbeat sound that combines the best, most shiny elements of the ’70s and ’80s with state-of-the-art studio technology.”

What this reviewer says: If I hadn’t already seen the cover of this CD, I would have sworn this was the long-awaited third album from Aqua, that ever-lovable group of Danes that brought us the hit single “Barbie Girl.” Yeah, this is like that but not as ironic. The Cooler Kids’ claim to fame is their song “All Around the World (Punk Debutante)” from “The Lizzie Maguire Movie.” Hello, one-hit-wonder hotel? You better get a room ready.

Similar artists: Aqua, T.A.T.U.

Sample lyrics: “Close your eyes and count to ten/ Let’s do the alphabet again/ Keep wishing that this night will end ’cause/ E is for everybody” -“E is For Everybody”

Best song: “Sugartown”

Worst song: “Sha La La (Wake Up Next 2 U)”

Rating: 4/10

Boyd Tinsley

True Reflections

Bama Rags/RCA

Release date: June 17 (out now)

What the label says:“The eleven tracks of ‘True Reflections’ explore diverse musical terrain, from the acoustic-flavored ‘It’s Alright’ to the smoky barroom vibe of ‘Show Me.'”

What this reviewer says: Boring with a capital B. You know, like B for Boyd. Ha! Anyway, Boyd Tinsley is the violinist of the Dave Matthews Band, and this debut is everything side projects are supposed to be: self-indulgent, poorly written, boring and completely pointless.

Similar artists: Dave Matthews, John Mayer

Sample lyrics: “I wanna tell you I love you/ And it’s all right/ Can you see how I feel when I’m near you?/ Cos it’s all right” -“It’s Alright”

Best song: “Show Me”

Worst song: “Run”

Rating: 3/10

Black Eyed Peas



Release date: June 24 (out now)

What the label says: “Produced in its entirety by Will.I.Am and apl, the album boasts a mix of live instruments and traditional hip-hop samples and beats.”

What this reviewer says: What a disappointment. The Black Eyed Peas’ first album is still a refreshing and original hip-hop album all about keeping it real and not selling out. Who knew that five years later they would be teaming up on a song with Papa Roach. To seal the deal on the sell-out, the Peas now have a permanent fourth member, Fergie, a female singer who sounds and looks like a model-turned-singer. The only redeemable thing about the Peas anymore is Will.I.Am’s production, which incorporates live instrumentation and many changes throughout each song. You may remember these guys from their 7 UP commercials and modeling for various clothing companies. Way to keep it real.

Similar artists: Roots, Cee-Lo

Sample lyrics: “He rock bacons/ Street block shakin’/ Club life’s great when its house breakin’/ Speak the thumpin’/ Hold your jumpin’/ Disco funkin’ get your booty bumpin’/ This beats bangin’/ I’m rap talkin’/ Sweet beats bangin’/ Keep your feet hopping” -“The Boogie That Be”

Best song: “Let’s Get Retarded”

Worst song: “Latin Girls”

Rating: 5/10