Arts and Entertainment your connection to The Boston Globe

Fresh starts, from rap to rock

Some of this fall's new releases could change the music landscape

In keeping with the theme of ``firsts," we've chosen to highlight four CDs -- three debut albums from emerging artists and one mid-career swerve from an established star. Among them, you'll find an enlightened young rapper poised to shift the direction of hip-hop, a brash MC from across the pond who's breaking down gender barriers, a pop singer who scrolled back 400 years to find inspiration for his ninth solo album, and an Israeli rock band that -- with a little luck -- could take the world by storm.

Lupe Fiasco, ``Food & Liquor," Atlantic, in stores Sept. 19

The first single from the underground rap sensation's major-label debut is ``Kick Push," a skateboarding anthem. Did we mention that Fiasco is Muslim, bespectacled, a voracious reader, and doesn't drink, drug, or club? The 24-year-old Chicago MC -- did we mention he's a jazz buff? -- is being hailed as the leader of hip-hop's new school, and he's clearly up to the task. Fiasco's already got a Reebok sneaker deal and the love of Kanye, and if all of ``Food & Liquor" is as humble and artful as the second single (a piano-driven, Neptunes-produced gem called ``I Gotcha") the future looks bright.

Sting, ``Songs from the Labyrinth ," Deutsche Grammophon, in stores Oct. 3

The math teacher-turned-Police-man-turned-solo-pop craftsman is once again branching out, and this one's a doozy. Sting has teamed up with Sarajevo lutenist Edin Karama zov on a collection of 16th-century songs by the Elizabethan composer John Dowland. Such titles as ``The Most High and Mighty Christianus the Fourth, King of Denmark, His Galliard" and ``. . . After my departure I caled to mynde our conference" are strangely suited to his midlife Stingness, who enunciates with mind-blowing precision on this Deutsche Grammophon release. Sting calls these ancient compositions 400-year-old pop songs. In that light, there are some sick vintage raps here, too, but Sting's flow is better suited to contemplation and courtship than booty shaking.

Lady Sovereign, ``Public Warning," Island, in stores Oct. 3

It's not just the first full-length from Lady Sovereign, a.k.a. Louise Harmon, the diminutive British rapper who made a critical splash with her 2005 EP ``Vertically Challenged" and is fond of calling herself ``the biggest midget in the game." This is the first album ever from a white female English MC. Witty, feisty, and in-your-face, 20-year-old Sov scored her record deal with Def Jam (she's the first non-American female on the roster) after performing an on-the-spot freestyle for label honchos Jay-Z and L.A. Reid. But don't expect any superstar producers or hotshot guest artists to grease Sov's wheels stateside; most of her elastic, electro-fied rhymes were recorded with her ``Vertically Challenged" producer Medasyn before she signed to Def Jam, and it's a testament to the label's faith that they're letting her stay stripped and real. With that stylin' side ponytail and rapid-fire flow, maybe Lady Sovereign can take UK hip-hop where Dizzee Rascal and the Streets have stumbled: the U S mainstream.

missFlag , as-yet-untitled, self-released in October

The e-mail in box pile up makes it tempting to auto-delete, but every once in a while one of those unsolicited messages from an unknown band produces the goods. So it was with missFlag, a year-old indie-rock band from Jerusalem that will release its debut collection of gorgeous pop-rockers in October. Comparisons to Coldplay are unavoidable. Of course the timing is good: now that Keane's lead singer is in rehab we need a new New Coldplay. But missFlag brings a beautifully shambling sensibility to the epic chord changes and winsome melodies. Check out the five tracks streaming at, where you'll be able to buy the full-length CD next month.

Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months
 Advanced search / Historic Archives