World Series Game 2 Jay-Z & Alicia Keys "Empire State of Mind"
Amoeba Music Berkeley Hip-Hop Top Five: 10:30:09
Amoeba Music Berkeley Hip-Hop Top Five: 10:30:09
1) Jay-Z Blueprint 3 (Roc Nation/Atlantic)
2) Fashawn Boy Meets World (Loud)
3) Sean Price Kimbo Price (Vision Mktg)
4) Del the Funky Homosapien & Tame One Parallel Uni-Verses (Gold Dust Media)
5) Sene & Blu A Day Late & A Dollar Short (Shaman Work)
Clearly Jay-Z is the king of the world, or at least of hip-hop right now. Not only is the phenomenally successful and popular artist number one (still) on the Amoeba Music chart with Blueprint 3, an album that came out almost two full months ago, and one that is doing equally well elsewhere, but last night Jay-Z along with Alicia Keys wowed the baseball world with a moving four minute performance of "Empire State Of Mind" (video above) during the World Series at Yankee Stadium. As a diehard, decades long fan & supporter of hip-hop music and culture from back when the genre was still being dismissed as a "passing fad," I found last night's well received performance another wonderful bit of validation and endorsement of a music form that I love and respect so much. In fact, so moving was last night's performance that it no doubt inspired the Yankees achieve their 3-1 win against the Phillies, which puts them at a tie, in this second game of the Series, which shifts to Philadelphia over the next three games, starting tomorrow, Saturday.
Another Brooklyn, New York emcee selling well at Amoeba Music, Berkeley this week is Sean Price with the Kimbo Price mix CD. As its cover text clearly states, it is a "Prelude to Mic Tyson" -- a teaser for the anticipated early 2010 official album from the talented rapper of Boot Camp Clik and Heltah Skeltah fame. This latest release, which hit Amoeba shelves on Tuesday, features fellow Boot Camp Clik'ers Rock (from Heltah Skeltah) and Ruste Juxx as well as Duck Down members Torae and Skyzoo. There are also appearances from Poison Pen and Royce Da 5′9.″ The strong mix CD offers up a nice balance of hard raps and funny moments/skits like when he humorously mocks Eminem ("Slum Shady Skit") or takes aim at Dirty South rap ("Pork Chops and Apple Sauce").
Last week's number one chart entry artist at the Hollywood Amoeba, Fashawn, is similarly doing well at the Telegraph Avenue store, where the Fresno rapper's official debut Boy Meets World on Loud, which follows a string of mixtape/CD releases, is number two this week. Longtime East Bay emcee and main Hiero member Del the Funky Homosapien is also doing well at Amoeba Berkeley with his latest collaboration with Tame One, Parallel Uni-Verses on Gold Dust Media. Read more here. The other new chart entry this week is from Sene & Blu, A Day Late & A Dollar Short on Shaman Work, which finds the always busy Blu & Exile star teaming up with (yet another Brooklyn emcee) Sene -- a hip-hop talent that many will undoubtedly be talking about once this new album starts to fully circulate.
And for the best new album cover art tribute to a bygone era album cover, Ill Mondo & Neal Rames' self-titled debut (dropping digitally on Nov 17) on Ill Mondo Records wins hands down for its nice reworking of Joe Jackson's post-punk/new wave 1979 debut Look Sharp on A&M/Polygram. A collaboration between San Francisco based, talented production duo Ill Mondo (Jeff and Johnny) and LA rapper Neal Rames, the tight new album -- rich with live instrumentation, including Hammond organ and distorted wah-pedal guitar -- also features some very special vocal guests, including Percee P, Prince Po of Organized Konfusion fame and the aforementioned Sean Price.
Citing such musical influences as DJ Shadow, Mobb Deep, and 70's producer David Axelrod, Ill Mondo also, not surprisingly include Joe Jackson among the diverse list of artists they admire. "The Joe Jackson cover flip was my idea and the shoes on the cover are Jeff's," said Ill Mondo's Johnny, noting that the Look Sharp cover reference "is lost on most hip-hop aficionados, apparently. The reference is mainly to show that we are not strictly influenced by a specific genre, but that rock like Joe Jackson is a huge inspiration for us as well as funk, soul, and hip-hop."
Ill Mondo's Johnny added, "There is actually a lyrical reference to Shoeless Joe Jackson, who was a famous baseball player in the early 1900's, so this is sort of a 'double' reference, an homage to both Joe Jacksons. There is also a Joe Jackson sample on Track 4, 'Freezer Burns.' I'd rather not say which sample, but yes, we did sample Joe Jackson as well as draw inspiration from his music and style." For more info visit Ill Mondo's website.
And finally, I leave you with two items: a fun website I just discovered and a fun video that I have embedded below. First up is the interactive, musically minded website Let them sing it for you, where you click the "Play" button that pops up to the left. Then you type in song lyrics or any words at all (start with a string of at least a dozen words to get a good idea) and the automatic soundboard program will play back your words in the form of each word sung, culled from some song or other and edited down into soundboard form. Good fun and a good way to waste time when you're bored at your computer. Only drawback is that the music samples are kinda limited. But this is a relatively new and still growing site, so I would patiently allow it time to get more soundbites into its database.
And from South Africa comes the video below, shot recently by Vanilla Ice and utilizing his best known song to promote Castle Light Beer. The commercial has been circulating for the past couple of weeks on YouTube to the delight of the many fascinated by the man, born Robert Matthew Van Winkle, who once (for a brief time) was the king of pop rap. That was 1990, when his album To The Extreme, featuring the Queen/Bowie "Under Pressure" sample-driven song "Ice Ice Baby" (originally released as a single B-side to "Play That Funky Music" and also a track on the 1989 indie released album Hooked) sold in the millions, had the distinction of being the first hip hop single to top the Billboard charts, and catapulted the Ice man to superstar status. Its popularity in turn kicked off a controversy at the time about whites stealing black music. Of course, equally controversial was Vanilla's fall from grace, fueled in great part by him falsifying his resume. And then ten years ago on MTV the Iceman famously, in an effort to further distance himself from "Ice Ice Baby," "retired" the video on the show 25 Lame. He appeared to destroy the video's master tape with a baseball bat, declaring how much he hated the song.. which makes his new reworking of the song for a TV ad all the more engaging.