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  • 2012 - Southern California Journalism Awards/LA Press Club, published December 1, 2011

    "Bud Bundy, Original Gangsta"

  • 2007 - Salute to Excellence Awards/National Association of Black Journalists

    "Ace of Spaides"

  • 2006 - Salute to Excellence Awards/National Association of Black Journalists, published September 14, 2005

    "Rap vs. Rapture"

2008 Stories by Ben Westhoff

Archives: 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007
  • Common

    published December 11, 2008

    Despite his status as a happy, respected old-timer, Common has to rap about something, and his eighth album, Universal Mind... More >>

  • The Mighty Underdogs

    published December 4, 2008

    The Mighty Underdogs is a Bay Area supergroup that adds up to less than the sum of its parts. Featuring Quannum Projects vets Gift of Gab from... More >>

  • T-Pain

    published December 4, 2008

    How has T-Pain done it? He's not attractive, his fashion sense leaves much to be desired (at least for those lacking Dr. Seuss/LSD fetishes),... More >>

  • Deerhunter

    published November 20, 2008

    Bradford Cox's oversized persona threatens to overwhelm almost anything his band does. In concert, the singer-songwriter—who has Marfan... More >>

  • T.I.

    published October 16, 2008

    While other MCs have created their own bogeymen to battle—Kanye has his ego, Eminem had Kim, Lil Wayne has those cough-syrup... More >>

  • The Streets

    published October 16, 2008

    Since rising to international fame in 2002 with the rowdy, inventive Original Pirate Material, British MC Mike Skinner, aka The Streets,... More >>

  • Nelly

    published October 2, 2008

    Brass Knuckles is Nelly's Thriller. No kidding. It's not perfect, but neither was MJ's magnum opus; it jumped... More >>

  • The Game

    published September 11, 2008

    Rappers and producers who appear on The Game's third album, LAX, include...everybody. There's Kanye West, Scott Storch, Travis Barker,... More >>

  • Nas, Talib Kweli

    published August 21, 2008

    Since his classic debut, Illmatic, Nas has been mostly coasting on his charm, his gift for public relations, and his skills as an MC.... More >>

  • Shwayze

    published August 21, 2008

    Most everything you need to know about horny, go-getting Malibu newcomer Shwayze can be gleaned from this line on "Polaroid," off his... More >>

  • Black Kids

    published August 7, 2008

    Last year, Florida quintet Black Kids released a free four-song EP of electro-tinged dance songs addressing themes of incest and gender... More >>

  • Sane in the Membrane

    published July 10, 2008

    Lil Wayne is not batshit insane. Let's be clear about that. Despite the fact that he regularly refers to himself as an... More >>

  • N.E.R.D.

    published July 3, 2008

    N.E.R.D.'s third album is the compact-disc equivalent of an ad campaign trying to appeal to the Red Bull/BlackBerry generation. "We gotta make... More >>

  • Lil Wayne

    published June 26, 2008

    Destined to be a stoner classic, Tha Carter III should silence critics who think Lil Wayne can't make a cohesive album. III is... More >>

  • Fox News Akin To Southern Rap

    published May 22, 2008

    If there's one thing the self-satisfied, liberal, tofu-munching, cappuccino-sipping, in vitro fertilization-using coastal elite hate, it's Fox... More >>

  • Death Cab for Cutie

    published May 15, 2008

    Narrow Stairs sounds just like Plans, right down to the obvious production, weepy lyrics and inoffensive guitar, continuing Death... More >>

  • Atmosphere

    published May 8, 2008

    The characters given life by Slug on Atmosphere's new album have unenviable situations, but they're not all "painting that shit gold" (whatever... More >>

  • Forget Me Not

    published May 1, 2008

    With McMansions galore, a concrete-chic urban planning model and seemingly never-ending sprawl, Plano is many outsiders' vision of hell.... More >>

  • Gnarls Barkley

    published April 10, 2008

    We expect a lot from our indie-ethos, crossover pop stars nowadays, even from a duo as inspired as Gnarls Barkley, aka DJ Danger Mouse and... More >>

  • While Trent Reznor Broods, Saul Williams Celebrates Their Music Download Experiment

    published March 27, 2008

    A few months after the November digital release of Saul Williams' latest album, The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!,... More >>

  • Why?

    published March 27, 2008

    The press release for Alopecia claims that Why? ringleader Yoni Wolf was inspired "as much by MF Doom and Lil' Wayne as J. Newsom and... More >>

  • Del the Funky Homosapien

    published March 13, 2008

    Del the Funky Homosapien is an outer-space hip-hop trailblazer, helping to pioneer a weird-for-its-own-sake rap style by focusing on absurdist... More >>

  • The N-Word Still Alive and Well in Hip-Hop

    published March 6, 2008

    Last July, thousands of folks, including the mayor of Detroit and the governor of Michigan, gathered in Motown at the NAACP's annual convention... More >>

  • Gary Louris

    published February 28, 2008

    Golden Smog and Jayhawks alum Gary Louris has a genius for crafting heartbreaking-yet-inspiring pop songs. At his best, on Jayhawks tunes such... More >>

  • Rapper's Caviar Dreams

    published January 31, 2008

    Irrational exuberance is so widespread in hip-hop right now that Alan Greenspan might freak out—if he understood rap lyrics. There are no... More >>

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