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Rick Ross Gets Back In Touch

Rick Ross made his name rapping about being a crime boss. To kick off his fifth album, Ross shifts gears from straight-up street affairs to team with Usher for the smooth single “Touch’N You." The airy beat and Usher’s soothing vocals provide a sensual backdrop for the Miamian to describe how he’ll spoil the special lady in his life, one he’d consider making his wife.

But his new collection won’t be filled with romance. Ross, who also heads up the Maybach Music label, has described his new album, “God Forgives, I Don’t,” as telling a dark story. So, even though “Touch’N You” strays from that formula, Ross has proven for the last several years that he’s among the genre’s most potent artists, one whose street-certified music is among rap’s most compelling. The album comes out on July 31.

Oh No Gives Dolemite the Royal Treatment 

Politically charged spoken word poets, such as Gil Scott-Heron and The Last Poets, are considered the first rappers. On the other side of the thematic spectrum was Rudy Ray Moore, who played the title character in the blaxploitation film "Dolemite." Eazy-E, Big Daddy Kane and Snoop Dogg were among those who collaborated with Moore, but rapper-producer Oh No has taken his affinity a step further with “Ohnomite,” a 19-cut collection filled with samples from Moore’s material, which includes films and albums.

The album, due June 5, features Evidence, Chino XL and Phil Da Agony delivering dazzling rhymes over Oh No’s inventive soundbeds. “Ohnomite” is yet another remarkable instance of rap looking to its past in order to push itself forward.

Casual Explains Alternate Meaning For “Sushi.”

Del The Funky Homosapien's debut in the early 1990s provided an innovative, introspective and everyday-guy-in-the-hood alternative to the gangster sounds dominating West Coast rap. Del’s solo success set the stage for his Hieroglyphics crew. Of the Hiero Imperium camp, Oakland rapper Casual was among the most lethal. His smooth, steady and authoritative flow was the perfect match for his no-nonsense rhymes about the streets, relationships and MCing.

Next week, Casual releases his seventh album, “He Still Think He Raw.” An unofficial follow-up to his 2001 release “He Think He Raw,” the new collection contains the funky single “Sushi,” an ode to Smash Rockwell’s rawness with the ladies. Nearly 20 years in the game, Casual sounds as raw as ever.

For more from Soren Baker follow him on Twitter and check out his author page on Amazon.com.

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