Juan in the hip-hop department at Amoeba Music Berkeley reports that two of the hottest selling new albums at the East Bay store this past week were Little Brother's ...and justus for all and The 3rd Degree by Immortal Technique, which includes cameos from Chino XL, Ras Kass, and Crooked I and production courtesy of Green Lantern, plus Buckwild (DITC), Scram Jones, and Southpaw.
North Carolina's Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh are reportedly releasing a total of five albums between them this year, both collaboratively and solo, including just one jointly under their group name, Little Brother.
The tight new album ...and justus for all is actually a kind of re-release since it came out last year with the same title in a (slightly different) mixtape format, which was overseen by DJ Mick Boogie. Released on Hall Of Justus, the new version of ...and justus for all has been cleaned up to a crispy clean sound via re-mastering. It also includes five new Little Brother songs that were not on the 2007 mixtape version of ...and justus for all.
Also over at the Berkeley Amoeba store, you can find the cool novelty Mac Dre bobblehead toys located near the hip-hop "new releases" right when you walk in the door. The bobble heads are a collector's edition series, with inbuilt sounds, and they were first released in 2006. The series also includes such editions as the Ronald Dregan and the Andre Macassi toy figures: the latter (pictured left) being the persona the late Vallejo rapper adopted for the 2005 posthumous release Da U.S. Open: Mall Macenroe vs. Andre Macassi, a collaborative album with Mac Mall.
These Thizz- themed bobble heads, which come with an inbuilt sound chip, are priced at Amoeba for $20.98, which is significantly less than most places I found them online where, with higher costs plus typical shipping costs, you could end up spending over ten dollars more for the item.
What do you do when the name you have chosen for your (as yet unreleased) new album causes an unprecedented amount of controversy from all quarters, including your record label, who strongly disagree with the album title (NIgger), choice and accompanying cover art (right)? Well, if you are Nas, you compromise by leaving your album untitled and let the people call it what they want.
Hence, the Queensbridge, NY emcee, whose last album title Hip Hop Is Dead (Def Jam) also triggered its own amount of debate (mostly after its release however), has decided to leave his ninth and latest album subliminally untitled. "The people will always know what the real title of this album is and what to call it," said Nas in a prepared statement. The subliminal part is the fact that he has the large letter "N" (as in the "N" word) emblazoned on his bare back in the new, updated cover art. This will no doubt help remind them of the initial album name which, since Nas has not followed through with his original title, has resulted in some saying that Nas was a wuss in backing down and should have stuck to his guns.
Whatever, but the album's tracking has not been altered and still includes the song "Be A Nigger Too," which he himself leaked online a few months ago. Its lyrics include the chorus “I’m a n*gger, he’s a n*gger, she’s n*gger, we some n*ggers/ wouldn’t you like to be a n*gger too/ They like to strangle n*ggers, blame a n*gger, shootin’ n*ggers, hangin’ n*ggers/ still you wanna be a n*gger too… true."
Not nearly as in your face is the first single off the album, the slick sounding "Hero," whose production (care of Polow Da Don) is a little too pop-radio smooth for these ears. However, other tracks I've heard off the forthcoming release, scheduled to hit Amoeba shelves on July 15th and whose production credits include Stic Man from Dead Prez, Jay Electronica, Stargate, and DJ Cool & Dre, are much more satisfying. The album also includes Jay Z on one of its tracks.
Note that as both a promotional effort and as a commentary on the "N" word controversy surrounding his new Def Jam album, Nas teamed up with DJ Green Lantern to make the recently released mixtape CD The Nigger Tape.
It is now 21 long years since KRS-One and Boogie Down Productions released the hip-hop classic Criminal Minded and KRS is still putting it down, both on record and in concert. He headlines the big Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival this coming weekend (with a great line-up that includes LA's Blu & Exile), where he will be joined onstage by DJ Premier, with whom he recently went into the studio to record "Criminal Minded '08." Check out the song and video below. Also check out the KRS-One 2008 release Maximum Strength (Two Thousand Eight) which, while recently released, is actually material dating back about a decade and hence contains many dated lyrical references -- most of it intended for a Jive Records (his old record label) release that never saw the light of day. KOCH, the label that seems to be keeping hip-hop alive in terms of cranking out new releases these days, put it out.
The opening and best track, "45," on The Saturday Knights' album Mingle (Light In The Attic Records) has hit single written all over it. The lyrics of this great party-rocking hip-hop track mention "DJ" and "dancefloor" numerous times throughout, which is bound to further entice DJs to spin it in da club. The rest of the album from this Seattle crew made up of DJ Suspence, and emcee/vocalists Tilson and Barfly, is more in the classic rock rather than rap vein and not nearly as good in my opinion.
Another great new recently released song is the E da Boss single "Go Left" that finds him in the good company of vocalists Gift of Gab and Lateef on OM Records. It's likely success will help get the talented Oakland DJ/producer more attention.
LA artist Flying Lotus has produced an audio homage to his hometown via the new Warp release Los Angeles, which is a dreamy, mostly downtempo and instrumental, hip-hop beat driven affair that incorporates various street sounds recorded by the artist around LA. In concept it is kind of like what Northern Ireland DJ/producer David Holmes did with his vox pop recordings of NYC on 1997's album Let's Get Killed except that with Flying Lotus the found sounds are not quite as obvious.
And finally Marc Weiss, aka DJ Chef, has to have hit on the best marketing idea for his dual DJ & chef skills which allows him to blend the two together effortlessly. "Spinnin the beats while cookin' the treats" is how he describes his approach on his DJ Chef webite where he "simultaneously cooks up his signature dishes and deejays the music that has made him the most sought out entertainer for special events, festivals, food galas, and corporate functions."
And it has worked. He has caught the attention of the Food Network, MTV, and other outlets. (He has clips on his website.) It should be noted that Bay Area DJs who are also chefs or cooks include DJ Fuze of Digital Underground fame and Pam the Funkstress from The Coup who I recall a few years back in an interview telling me that cooking and DJ'ing have a lot in common -- drawing from the concept of blending things (be they food or sounds) together in a mix.