TOP PICK — VIDEO GAME
Mass Effect 2
One of last year's best games finally comes to the PlayStation 3, and it's lost none of its intensity. The deep storytelling is still here, and so are the great action set pieces. This sci-fi RPG pretty much redefines how these types of games think and play. Spend a little time in Mass Effect's big world, and you'll get lost for hours, maybe days, exploring and blasting through it.
There are plenty of interviews here with ATL hip-hoppers like Big Boi, Gucci Mane, and Ludacris. But this excellent book is all about Michael Schmelling's colorful photographs of the artists. Some of the rappers he shoots are big-time stars, but the best pages are filled with intimate portraits of relative unknowns. The essays by Kelefa Sanneh give perspective.
Drive-By Truckers: Go-Go Boots
By now, you know what you're getting with a Drive-By Truckers album: an equal number of songs by its two frontmen, a couple by whoever's playing bass with them these days, and a whole lotta guitars swirling around songs about lifelong losers looking for that one big break. It's a companion piece to last year's The Big To-Do, but with a lot more despair in its grooves.
Face it — you probably think you need at least one Billy Joel album in your collection. And not one of his several greatest-hits packages covers his entire career. That's where the 19-track Hits comes in. It includes everything you'll ever need by Joel on one CD — from 1971's "Everybody Loves You Now" through 1993's "The River of Dreams." Sure beats a pricey box set.
This 2004 biopic about R&B godhead Ray Charles was nominated for a bunch of Oscars, including Best Actor Jamie Foxx, who won. Of course you should track down Charles' original recordings, but the movie has its moments. It makes its Blu-ray debut with extended songs, deleted scenes, and a behind-the-scenes feature where Foxx and Charles jam together.