Amoeba Music San Francisco Hip-Hop Top Five: 05:15:09
1) TD Camp Face To Face (Hella Records)
2) Tanya Morgan Brooklynati (Interdependent Media)
3) Cam'ron Crime Pays
(Diplomat Records/Asylum Records)
4) The Grouch & Eligh Say G&E! (Legendary Music)
5) Themselves freeHOUDINIdeluxe (Anticon)
The number one album at Amoeba Music San Francisco this week is Face To Face from the longtime SF DJ/producer/engineer and head of Hella Records, TD Camp. Many may know TD Camp for his work with Bored Stiff, Co-Deez, Equipto, Zumbi of Zion I, and other artists. This anticipated 17 track CD on Hella Records, which is presented by FTC, the skateboarding company, features hella guests, mostly hometown or Bay Area artists the producer has built up a relationship with in his years in the rap game since the early nineties. Guests include: Andre Nickatina, Goapele, San Quinn, Zion I, Casual, Pep Love, DJ Qbert, Mike Marshall, JT the Bigga Figga, Bored Stiff, Z-Man, Big Mack, Willie Hen, Otayo Dubb, Spank Pops, Rick Flare, Schwinn, Akil, Bailey, Big Rich, Rosco Feddi, Philthy Rich, PZ, and Jay Anthony. Also included on Face to Face are SoCal's legendary Snoop Dogg and the late great Vallejo rap artist Mac Dre.
Tanya Morgan is the hip-hop male trio whose name has understandably caused so much confusion to date that last year saw the release of the mixtape Tanya Morgan is a Rap Group (many magazine and online articles on the band have had similar explanatory titles) to help clear up any remaining confusion. Formed six years ago after meeting up in the chat room at okayplayer.com, Tanya Morgan is comprised of the emcees Donwill and Ilyas along with producer/emcee Von Pea. Von Pea hails from Brooklyn, while both Donwill and Ilyas are both from Cincinnati, hence the title of the new album, Brooklynati, a combination of both city's names. In addition to the trio, 88 Keys, who has collaborated with them many times, is sort of an honorary member, not to mention a major fan of the talented group.
In 2005 Tanya Morgan released the Sunset EP and in 2006 they released their first full length album, Moonlighting, which instantly gained the level of critical praise not seen since the golden era of hip-hop. Cheerleaders of the group include critics at XXL, The Source, and on the blogosphere, who all lauded the trio with justified praise. Even more critical acclaim is already happening for Brooklynati since it was released this week on Tuesday. "Oh yeah, it's a really great album," said Luis at the San Francisco Amoeba, where the CD is already number two on the hip-hop chart.
Brooklynati's first single is the head-nodding "So Damn Down;" the golden era hip-hop meets old-school soul vibe (think De La Soul circa '92) that the single sets up is continued throughout the album on tracks such as the Von Pea produced "Never Enough" (with Carlita Durand providing the vocals). Brooklynati, with its soulful underground feel, is a welcome injection of imagination and humor on today's hip-hop landscape and will undoubtedly be showing on many 2009 year end best-of hip-hop album lists.
Harlem, New York-born rapper and sometime actor Cam'ron returns after a break from the music industry with his first album since 2006's Killa Season and his first album since his very public feud with 50 Cent. The new 23 track release (including several skits), Crime Pays, on Diplomat/Asylum Records, noticeably does not include any collaborations from his former pals in The Diplomats crew that he formed (aka Dipset with Jim Jones, Juelz Santana, and Freeky Zeek) and with whom he had a falling out, but it does show a marked change in his whole flow and style -- for the better. SIngles off the new album include "My Job" and "Get It In Ohio," in which, as witnessed in the accompanying video below, someone is seemingly picking up something illicit in Ohio, indicating that he believes that indeed crime does pay.
The other new chart entries at the San Francisco Amoeba this week include The Grouch & Eligh's ever popular Say G&E! (Legendary Music), which has been charting high consistently for the past several weeks at all three Amoebas. Also on this week's chart is Themselves' incredible new CD freeHOUDINIdeluxe on Anticon, which just gets better with repeated listens -- especially the track "The Mark" featuring D-Styles in which the choppy, staccato of Doseone's flow is perfectly complimented by the turntable fluttering sounds created by skilled turntablist D-Styles. Other album collaborators with the Bay Area duo (Dose + Jel) include Sole, Buck 65, WHY?, Serengeti, Busdriver, Alias, DJ Baku, Aesop Rock, Pedestrian, and Slug of Atmosphere. To read my recent interview with Doseone, click here.
Another new release of note is the El Michels Affair's Wu Tang Clan tribute project, Enter The 37th Chamber, on Fat Beats. It is the ensemble's fifteen track collection of instrumental covers of Wu classics that, while staying true to the original RZA tracks, manages to take the original tracks to new places. With leadership by saxophonist/organist Leon Michels and producer/engineer Jeff Silverman, the El Michels Affair first began as a series of informal collaborative sessions with such acts as Antibalas, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, and The Budos Band.
Enter The 37th Chamber's highlights include "C.R.E.A.M." (previously released as a 7" single) and "Duel Of The Iron Mics" (from GZA's recently rereleased 1995 solo joint Liquid Swords). The record perfectly recreates RZA's beat and even includes, in true Wu fashion, a sprinkling of samples taken from the cult samurai film Shogun Assassin.
Fans of old school Bay Area rap (from the nineties) should check out the weekly one-hour online radio show from Paris, France by way of Richmond, CA with host Ya Boy Black Ice (YBBI), an old school Bay rapper, who goes digitally "from Richmond California to Paris France and back in one hour" with a serving of Bay Area golden era (mid 90's) classics and more that he produces in California for the European outlet.
The Bay Area host/producer, who has a genuine passion for older Bay Area rap, hooked up with the French radio folks over a year ago and has found the response to Bay rap from France and other parts of Europe to be pretty impressive. The weekly show, which sometimes focuses on the sound of certain producers such as EA Ski & CMT, airs at 9pm local time on Wednesdays on 187radio.com, with a direct link to stream here. For podcasts of past shows go here and select "Podcasts." There are also back-up streams of a few shows at TheYBBIShow.podomatic.com and additionally on www.BayArea.it -- a site run by Italian fans of Bay Area rap.