KRS One's most recent album, Life, came out in June 2006, but was mostly overlooked by the radio and press (obviously). It was more surprisingly ignored by hip-hop heads and even long-time KRS fans who seem to think the legendary rapper is past his prime. A thorough listening of Life will cast those fears aside. Though the album may not be as epic as some of KRS's earlier works, it is a welcome respite from today's typical hip-hop releases. Life came out on small, California label, Antagonist records, and even though it was largely ignored eight months ago, this is not for a lack of effort or skill by the Teacher, who is still making powerful and important music. On "I Am There" KRS shines and inspires when he says: "I speak but most don't get it/But the few that do get it in their minds, my words stay embedded/And they blessed if they don't forget it/They'll never need a psychiatrist, a psychic or a medic." These words might sound boastful coming from anyone other than KRS, but when he says them, they feel right. He continues on this same track addressing the state of hip hop with concinnity: "Hip-hop, its home could never be a station/Sharin' a space with R& B, stop fakin'/Do you know how much money they making off of you and I, just because hip-hop won't unify? So look inside your heart or mind everytime you will find, I am there/ I can see where you at, feelin' trapped, can't move, can't act/ I was there." At his best, KRS seamlessly bridges varying topics like spiritual enlightenment, the current state of hip-hop and historical injustices. He neatly encapsulates these issues on the album's opener, another stand out track, "Bling Blung." Here, KRS presents a harsh critique of the current obsession with wealth and materiality among contemporary rappers, making things painfully clear, he says: "How many young men hung so we can sing a song?" Now show me another line as poignant as this by any other rapper in 2006. If you consider yourself a real hip-hop fan, go out and get this album.

There couldn't be a more fitting title to Bob Dylan's first album in five years, his 31st studio album, and 44th total. Modern Times, the name borrowed from one of his not oft-cited yet greatest influences, Charlie Chaplin, is the lyrical confession of a man whose twilight years are slowly creeping into consciousness. He responds to the encroaching hands of time with a wicked, almost curmudgeonly sense of humor, and the irreverent brash of a youthful Dylan; yet at once gestures to make peace. The album harks back to his early influences, sans Woody Guthrie. The light-footed bouncy opener, "Thunder on the Mountain," channels Chuck Berry, while Muddy Waters pays a hearty visit to "Rollin' and Tumblin'." Carl Perkins lends his spirit somewhere in there as well, as does Nina Simone. "Put some sugar in my bowl," reiterates Dylan on the ballad "Spirit on the Water." As a logical companion to its lead in, 2001's Love and Theft, Dylan's latest masterwork Modern Times, with its graceful infusion of blues, rockabilly, old country, poetry, and comedy, stands as both a testament and challenge to, well, modern times. It sounds oh so familiar, yet its something you've never heard before.

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The Harlem Shakes delivers a sharp execution of high-spirited paeans in their 5-track EP, Burning Birthdays. As their album name implies, this is a celebratory affair aflame with finely honed rock melodies and pop hooks from the bygone era of Eisenhower America. Lexy Benaim’s voice soars to sublime reaches shadowed by a delicate background of “oohs” and “ahhs” in airtight, sun-drenched melodies that still leave room for surprises. Despite the association with “doo-wop”, their album isn’t just the typical trip down memory lane. They’ve managed to synergize classic pop structures within the jangly NY-rock aesthetic that moves each song in exciting jerks and turns. In their second track, “Red Rights Hands”, Jose Soegaard’s jubilant guitar rises and falls in response to Benaim’s boyish croons fashioned in grand body-shaking melodies, briefly quieted by moments of Todd Goldstein’s solemn organ tones. From start to finish, every track stands distinctly on its own; yet all consistent in delivering that burst of youthful energy.

Although the Burning Birthdays may be your first glimpse of the Brooklyn-based group, the Harlem Shakes have been making quite a scene as the extroversive maestros of New York’s dive bars. The self-produced group already opened for the Arctic Monkeys, Fiery Furnaces, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. They’ve also played and worked with their other fellow Brooklyn band, Beirut, whose own John Natchez offered his accordion and sax for the recording of their album. Now in support of their upcoming release, they will be touring with Deerhoof, the art-rock aficionados of California, making it the most exuberant live performance of West Coast meets East this year.

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Off-kilter hipster humorists Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement spit hot fire comparable to any of Lil' Weezy's best non-sensical, non-sequitur verses. Rappers step your game up. White hipster comedians are ether-ing you with.

SETH MCMAHILL OF NINTENDO IS THE POKÉMON LOCALIZATION COORDINATOR ON SUCH GAMES AS “POKÉMON DIAMOND,” “POKÉMON PEARL,” AND THE NEW “POKÉMON BATTLE REVOLUTION.”

SO WHAT EXACTLY DOES A POKÉMON LOCALIZATION COORDINATOR DO?

I’m basically in charge of the localization, so I name the characters, write the English text.

last week, my friend eichi came all the way from japan to visit nyc. he's the sweetest, always giving me gifts. before he came here he asked if there was anything i wanted from japan and all i could think about was the new PEPSI CUCCUMBER drink. for some reason it had been on my brain for weeks. anyways, he tried to smuggle a can in but they wouldn't allow liquids on the plane...damn those liquid throwing terrorists! you won't win!!!

speaking of japan. thought you guys might enjoy this one.

Ahhhhh sheeeiittt.. Much love to Fabolous and the crew for putt’n the word on the street.

“Daddy do the Gucci, momie in Cassette’s”

"Terrorist groups, like any organization, need brand identities. With so many groups claiming credit for terrorist acts, and so many videotapes being put out featuring men in ski masks, it’s hard to keep track of which group committed what violent act. So terrorist organizations have logos. It recently occurred to me that someone had to actually design those logos. But how did they decide who gets to do it? Did the job go to whichever terrorist had a copy of Adobe Illustrator?"

Aya T. Kanai steps into our Confessional this week. She's the Fashion Director at Nylon Magazine, styling and working with our favorite celebrities, including today's young Hollywood.

We got a chance to ask her some questions about her start in the fashion world and she