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Beyoncé, "Diva": I Am...Sasha Fierce — this Independent Woman's latest multimedia event — is front-loaded with snoozy ballads one can fast-forward through without remorse; the party really gets going with "Single Ladies." By "Diva," wherein Beyoncé embraces the titular descriptor and equates it to being a hustler, she's gone all buck-wild on us, throwin' 'bows and bustin' 16s like a street MC: "Hoy you gon' be talkin' shit? / You act like I just got up in it / Been the No. 1 diva in this game for a minute." Guess hubby Hova's really rubbing off on her, huh?

Eric Copeland, "Alien in a Garbage Dump": Eric Copeland's gotta be careful. He's the front man for NYC fractured-noise trio Black Dice, but his solo recordings are infinitely more interesting. This one takes hip-hop samples and what I'm assuming are snippets of field-recorded conversations and loop-de-loops 'em off into infinity over whatever additional sound sources he's spindled and mutilated into crazy-carnival herky (beef) jerky.

Ophibre, "Reference": Whenever I spin this one, I imagine some dude in a stained lab coat hunched over heaps of stereo consoles, painstakingly adjusting frequencies, fiddling with dials and caressing the strings of a modified electric guitar — pasting together an amber din, oblivious to the world burning down outside his studio. But maybe he's just pulling this shit off with a laptop. Dim-subway-­tunnel-on-­Ativan gorgeous, this.

Z-Ro, "Made": Not about the MTV series, dude. Oh, Z-Ro's modest: "Remember me? / I'm the one who did bad in all of my classes / Now what they spend a house I blow on designer glasses." In terms of content and swagger, this Houston cat isn't especially original, but he's got a post-Nate Dogg singsongy flow that refines thug braggadocio into syrupy Southern poetry.

 
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