Killer Mike | R.A.P. Music
If you’ve read Brian Flota’s glowing review of the El-P album Cure for Cancer (check it out in the June music section), you may have noticed a passing reference to R.A.P Music. Produced by El-P (found here perfectly blending his signature, claustrophobic production with a more straight-forward aesthetic) and featuring a number of impressive performances from the Killer Mike and his various guests, R.A.P Music stakes a claim as one of the most exciting hip hop albums of the year, so far. Any album that can include two cuts as different as the darkly funky “Southern Fried,” and the chillingly political “Reagan” deserves our time and attention. — James Brubaker
Robb Todd | Steal Me For Your Stories
Full disclosure: My favorite story in Steal Me For Your Stories, “Quiet the Remedies,” first appeared in The Fiddleback. That story’s dark romanticism and raw honesty are indicative of the collection as a whole: “A passing car fills the room with music and she says, ‘The only songs I like are the ones that make me sad or make me want to fuck.’” The moment could almost be straight out of a Godard film, but it’s not—it’s from a Robb Todd story that is included in an impressive collection of Robb Todd stories. —James Brubaker
Andrea Uptmor | "A Classmate Has Some Notes..."
A former Fiddleback contributor (story here), Uptmor's short imagined monologue appears online at McSweeney's. Anyone who's ever participated in a fiction writing workshop will appreciate this hilarious take on the obligatory response letter. In particular, you might recognize that special kind of criticism that reveals far more about the writer of the critique than it does about the story in question: "Let me give you some advice, from a guy who has taken mushrooms before." Dude, why would I take advice from someone who hasn't? "The first thing that's going to happen to him is that the carpet is going to start moving like an ocean." I can feel the waves rocking me already. —Brian Gebhart