Amoeba Music Hollywood Hip-Hop Top Five: 02:05:09
1) Diplo Decent Work for Decent Pay
2) P.O.S. Never Better (Rhymesayers)
3) Illa J Yancey Boys (Delicious Vinyl)
4) J-Dilla Yancey Boys Instrumentals
5) RZA Afro Samurai Resurrection (TVT)
A glance at the new top five hip hop albums chart above from the Hollywood Amoeba is proof that 2009 in hip-hop is already looking real good with numerous quality new releases dropping or about to drop from all over the map, both stylistically and geographically.
Multi-talented Staten Island Wu warrior RZA, who plays Sunday night in San Francisco at Mezzanine on a bill along with Pariah and DJ Radius and others, has just dropped the album soundtrack to the Spike TV animated show Afro Samurai Resurrection on TVT. Meanwhile from Calgary, Canada comes the talented duo of Dragon Fli Empire, which is DJ Cosm and Teekay. The pair have been putting it down for a minute in their homeland. Both their 2004 release Conquest and their 2006 album Invasion got warm responses. On their new 2009 album Redefine they are joined by several guests, including fellow Canadian Cadence Weapon and Bay Area resident emcee Raashan Ahmad (of solo and Crown City Rockers fame) who joins them on "Ride On" -- one of the best tracks on the album. Other good cuts on the 14 track CD include "Just That Nice."
Out of Portland, Oregon come two great yet stylistically very different emcees: Sapient and Mic Crenshaw. Mic Crenshaw's Thinking Out Loud on Focused Noise is the debut solo release by the emcee who has built a fan base as part of Suckapunch, Hungry Mob, and Cleveland Steamers. Although associated with the Northwest's hip-hop scene, the artist is not from there originally. Born and raised in Chicago (Southside), he moved to Portland via Minneapolis. As much an activist as an emcee, Crenshaw is a founding member of Anti Racist Action and the famed Minneapolis anti-racist skinhead crew, The Baldies. He is also reportedly co-founder of a non-profit caled Global Farm which has been instrumental in setting up computer centers for Iraqi refugees, as well as for disadvantaged youth in Burundi in Central Africa. Not surprisingly then, Crenshaw's new album addresses some of the issues that are close to his heart. On the album he is joined by another politically minded hip-hopper, Stic Man of Dead Prez. Other guests include Nightclubber Lang of Boom Bap Project.
Meanwhile, Portland emcee/producer Sapient's Letterhead is a refreshingly original sounding new hip-hop album. To date he is best known as part of the Northwest crew Sandpeople, whose members Ethic and Onlyone each make cameos here, and whose most recent release, Honest Rocket, released last May featuring The Grouch and Sean Price, got quite a good buzz. Letterhead is even better and proves how sometimes when the emcee is also the producer things can really click perfectly. Sapient doesn't even try to adhere to the unwritten rule of only digging in the funk and breaks crates for his soundscapes. Instead he has an arsenal of unconventional samples and sounds, like the bugged out computer effects on the song "Stay Connected," to draw from and funnel into the mix and still have them come out hip-hop sounding.
This week's number one, Decent Work For Decent Pay on Big Dada, is an excellent overview of the last four years of Philly DJ/producer Diplo's rich output, including production work on such major releases as M.I.A's "Paper Planes," and various remixes for such artists as Spank Rock, Bloc Party, Hot Chip, and Peter, Bjorn & John. Number two on this week's Amoeba Hollywood hip-hop chart is P.O.S.'s highly recommended, punk rock fueled hip-hop release Never Better on Rhymesayers (look for an Amoeblog interview with the artist on Monday, Feb 9th, when his current tour hits California). Another tight new release comes from Myka9, co-founder of LA's legendary hip-hop crew Freestyle Fellowship, who has titled his new 2009 release 1969 (the year he was born) and which was released on Fake Four Records. For this return to the studio, the longtime LA hip-hop artist was joined by his Project Blowed cohorts Awol One, Busdriver and Aceyalone.
The Conscious Daughters' (TCD) long overdue third album, The Nutcracker Suite on Paris' Guerrilla Funk label, will arrive on Amoeba shelves on Tuesday (Feb 10th). It's been 16 years since their debut and the female duo (CMG and Special One) are still putting it down. I've been a fan ever since their Paris- produced funky first single "Fonky Expedition (A Little Something To Ride To)," which was a hit back in '93. It was the perfect riding music, especially for driving around the Town-- Oakland. See the video for this Oakland rap classic below, which features several other rap acts from back then, including Money B (Digital Underground, Raw Fusion), Poohman, and TMD from Capital Tax. The video also features lots of driving round Oakland shots -- something that defined TCD's style back then and has ever since.
On the new album, the Oakland crew stay true to form and deliver more upbeat riding songs about their town such as on the head-nodding funk driven "Not Bad But Good," in which they declare: "It's a little city by the Bay, That's where I stay, That's where I play, everyday in the O, A, K." As well as always remaining true to where they are from, the Daughters are always true to their gender and have consistently made a point of collaborating with fellow female artists. The new album features guest spots from other longtime Cali female artists including Mystic and Marvaless. In addition to the CD release of The Nutcracker Suite, the album is also being released in double vinyl format. Expect an Amoeblog interview with TCD in the coming weeks. For samples of the new album check out their MySpace.
Another Oakland based act with a new album dropping soon is Zion I, whose hit-bound The Take Over, which is packed with infectious club & ready bangers, on Gold Dust Media, arrives in Amoeba on Feb 17th (more on this album next week). Oakland emcee Azeem and SF DJ J-Boogie are both performing tonight at the Shattuck Down Low in Berkeley.
Conscious Daughters 1993 breakout hit single