On the Down-Low

Shovel away all that Usher, Prince and Lil Jon you've been jamming and dig this year's buried black-music treasures.

9. King Britt, On the Seventh: Park Hyatt Chicago(Milan); GB, Soundtrack for Sunrise (Sound in Color). King Britt's On the Seventh is a lush compilation featuring cool, euphoric music from the likes of Vikter Duplaix, Spacek frontman Steve Spacek, Clara Hill and the masterful Britt himself. Spacek also finds his way onto GB's debut mix, a tight collection of sounds that includes guest work from Flora Purim, Airto Moreira, Joy Jones and A Race of Angels. When it comes to mix CDs from master DJs, it isn't about the person mixing; it's about the music they mix.

10. Various Artists, Giant Step Presents Simply Good Music, Volume One(Giant Step); Various Artists, True Notes, Vol. 1(Okayplayer). Prefer to sample the aforementioned artists before plunking down for full albums? These two compilations are a good place to start. Aya and Amp Fiddler appear on the Giant Step collection, which also features downright decent tracks from Esthero, Jiva, Sara Devine and Zap Mama. Jean Grae, Gift of Gab, Nicolay and Little Brother contribute tunes to Okayplayer's True Notes volume, which also features cuts from the Roots, Skillz, Dilated Peoples and RJD2. Go ahead and get your feet wet with these kiddie-pool discs, but don't be afraid to take the plunge into the deep end.

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