Amoeba Music San Francisco
Hip-Hop Top Five: August 01, 2008
1) NaS Untitled (Def Jam)
2) Jean Grae + 9th Wonder Jeanius
3) People Under The Stairs The OM Years
4) Husalah & B-Luv Tonka Boyz
(SMC Records/City Hall)
5) RZA as Bobby Digital Digi Snacks
A shout-out to Luis in the hip-hop department at the San Francisco Amoeba Music for this week's Top Five chart, which includes the new Bay Area indie rap release from the rhyme duo Husalah & B-Luv, Tonka Boyz, that features guest spots from such local faves as PSD, Yukmouth, The Jacka, and Dubee. Also charting high this week is the double CD retrospective by People Under The Stairs (PUTS) from OM hip-hop. Disc one is "The OM Years" and includes such crowd pleasers as "San Francisco Knights," "The Cat," and "Jappy Jap," while disc two (my personal fave, since it has some stuff I had not heard before) is titled "B-sides & Rarities."
Luis admits that he is not really feeling the new RZA as Bobby Digital (Digi Snacks) and I have to fully agree with him.This, the artist's fourth solo record, not only fails to match any of his Wu Tang output, but also falls short of his own previous solo work. However, as is often the case with overall mediocre albums, there are a few great songs to be found on the 15 track Digi Snacks, including "Drama" featuring Monk and Thea and "You Can't Stop Us Now" (feat. fellow Wu warrior Inspectah Deck).
The latter song features a sample of the 1969 Temptations song "Message From A Black Man" which incidentally is also sampled on the new NaS album on his similarly titled track which features guest Eban Brown of the Last Poets. But hip-hop fans have heard this sample over the years from various artists: originally by Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force on "Renegades of Funk" and more recently by such artists as Mos Def, and also MF Doom on the Doom-produced King Gheedorah track "Anti-Matter," featuring Mr. Fantastic & MF Doom on the album Take Me To Your Leader.
Another negative about the RZA album, a frustrating trend in many new CD releases of all genres these days, is that the CD booklet has no credits-- so if you are scratching your head wondering who produced what track or who guests on which song you will not find out from the three page fold out CD booklet. Instead it suggests that you go to RZA's MySpace to find out who produces or who guests on what track. Then when you go to the MySpace you are linked to another URL you have to download via Z-Share to view the data. Now if this was just an MP3 bought online I would understand the logic, but I think artists need to continue to include such important data as production and cameo credits in their CDs. Ya smell me?
The Nas vs. Bill O' Reilly battle continues. On his powerful new album track "Sly Fox" the emcee mocks O'Reilly and the "news" network that he he works for and its parent corporation, which also owns MySpace and the New York Post; The great song obviously got under the skin of the host of The O'Reilly Factor. On July 24th, in typical "fair and balanced" fashion (yeah, right!), O'Reilly ridiculed NaS, calling his album "a bomb, a disaster, a catastrophe."
The new (untitled) album, which sold 187,000 units in its first week, shot to number one on Billboard's album chart, even knocking Lil Wayne off the top slot after three weeks there. So what the F was O'Reilly whining about this time? The fact that it sold substantially less (about half) than NaS' previous release Hip-Hop Is Dead, but then that was two years ago when all CDs were selling more. In his rant O'Reilly never mentioned that NaS had mocked him personally, just the network. It should be noted that both FOX News and O'Reilly's own viewership ratings have been slipping lately, especially with the rise in popularity of MSNBC's Keith Olbermann.
Amoeba Music's Luis reminded me that Immortal Technique, who last played Amoeba Music five years ago when he dropped Revolutionary Music Vol. 2, will return to the San Francisco location for a free instore performance on Monday August 18th at 6PM in support of his great new album The 3rd World (Viper). Other Amoeba news items of note, according to Luis, include two new items in the store that he highly recommends. Priced at $72 (cheaper than anywhere online or most other retail stores) is the various artists B-Boy Records: The Masterworks [Box set] an "enhanced" collection that contains CDs and MP3s containing everything a true hip-hop fan fiends from this landmark label.
Also new to Amoeba and recommended by Luis is the enhanced book (meaning book with a CD) by the Wu Tang's Ghostface Killah titled The World according to Pretty Toney which retails for $22. "It is so funny," laughed Luis of the hardcover book in which Ghostface urges people to make a new toilet bowl or something and on the back cover says it is "for y'all smart dumb cats."
Boxers or briefs? Nelly announced this week that he will be the first spokesmodel for the recently launched Sean John (aka P-Diddy) underwear line and will be featured in the Fall campaign in a photo shoot overlooking LA-- so expect to see Nelly in his shorts at a bus stop near you in the coming months. Meanwhile Snoop Dogg recently wound up shooting the video for a song from the Bollywood movie Singh is Kinng with famous Indian actory Akshay Kumar. See the recently produced video clip below of Snoop in costume with Kumar behind the scenes discussing their collaboration and also a sample of the song.
Tomorrow (August 2nd) afternoon at 2PM at Double Punch, 1821 Powell Street, in North Beach, San Francisco hometown artist Nate (N8) Van Dyke will unveil the art of his new mini comic, PAY DAY, featuring DUTCH, the bank robbin' chimp. The event will include original and concept art from the comic and the signing of his new vinyl figure, produced by Double Punch.
Finally I leave you with the brand new zombie/slasher-movie styled Kool Keith video "R.I.P. Dr Octogon" (c/o Threshold Recordings) in which the former Ultramagnetic MC (under his Dr Dooom alias) tells the "true story" of how he has tried repeatedly, with the help of his longtime collaborator KutMasta Kurt (the talented LA based Bay Area producer) to try to kill off his Dr. Octogon alter ego (his successful collaboration with another Bay Area producer, Dan the Automator), including recalling how he "drowned him in the water til he was gone" and "stabbed him more than seventeen times." In the end he succeeds and finally Dooom announces victoriously that "Octogon is deceased!"