Amoeba Music Berkeley Weekly Hip-Hop Top Five: 11:20:09
1) Wale Attention Deficit (Interscope Records/Allido Records)
2) FELT FELT 3: A Tribute to Rosie Perez (Rhymesayers)
3) Wu-Tang Meet the Indie Culture, Vol. 2: Enter The Dubstep... (Ihiphop Distribution)
4) Gift of Gab Escape 2 Mars (Cornerstone/RAS)
5) Wyclef Jean From The Hut, To The Projects To The Mansion (R.E.D. Distribution)
It may seem like Washington DC rapper Wale has been around for quite a while already and that he should be up to his third or at least second album by now, but in actuality the justifiably hyped emcee is only just now releasing his debut, Attention Deficit on Allido via Interscope. The album has been much anticipated and has numerous big name collaborators (particularly production), including Mark Ronson, Cool & Dre, The Neptunes, 9th Wonder, and Green Lantern, and Lady Gaga, who lends her MIA inflected vocals to the single "Chillin" (already out many months and a big hit -- see video below), which seems to be everyone's favorite new hip-hop release. Since it dropped last week, Attention Deficit has been selling really well everywhere, including at the Berkeley Amoeba Music store, where it shot to number one with a bullet on the latest Weekly Hip-Hop chart. The album, which distinctly packs much crossover appeal, features Wale tackling many topics, including feelings of insecurity ("Contemplate"), the trials & tribulations of the everyday grind for a hard working rapper ("World Tour" featuring Jazmine Sullivan -- another already released single, one that revisits A Tribe Called Quest's song of the same name), and the reality of reality shows ("TV in the Radio").
Of course "TV in the Radio" is not the first time Wale has drawn inspiration from television. His popular 2008 release, Mixtape About Nothing, captured the rapper in self-reflective rhyme mode over Seinfeld samples on a CD that copped the Seinfeld TV show imagery. Which brings us back to the reason why it seems like Wale has had other releases before now...he has! But this is his "official debut," as his label reminds us. Problem is that nowadays when the lines between mixtape and official release are blurred, and when an artist's mixtapes get the type of media attention that they so often do (EG, Mixtape About Nothing was featured in mainstream mags like Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone and made numerous year end Best of 2008 lists), it is confusing to the average fan as to what is an actual release and what's a mixtape. They are usually packaged similarly. Furthermore, many mixtapes nowadays feature all new music (albeit not always sample cleared) rather than the past traditional emcee spitting over other peoples' beats and instrumental tracks. Over the past four years Wale has released five "mixtapes," including 2005's Paint a Picture, 2006's Hate is the New Love, 2007's 100 Miles & Running (which won him the most attention), and Back to the Feature from earlier this year, which acted as a kind of primer for Attention Deficit.
Wale feat Lady GaGa "Chillin" (2009)
In the number two position on this week's chart is the must-get, amazing, all killer/no-filler new release in the ongoing FELT series, part three from the "favorite group that wasn't even a group to start," as they pronounce on the opening track "Protagonists." Yes, the group FELT (featuring Slug of Atmosphere & Murs of Living Legends, with production this time around by Aesop Rock) may be merely a side project to these hip-hop talents, but as such they pack more punch and pure boom bap than most of all the other rap releases out there these days. With the theme of dedicating these albums to B-List actresses (2002's A Tribute to Christina Ricci and 2005's A Tribute to Lisa Bonet were FELT 1 and 2 respectively), this latest installment, FELT 3 is A Tribute to Rosie Perez.
And this 21 track CD rocks from start to finish on songs including "Bass For Your Truck" (with a little "Everlasting Bass" sample), "Permanent Standby," "Revisiting the Styleetron," and "Get Cake." On the Rhymesayers-produced "Get Cake" video below, which is more interview than music video, Slug -- in a San Francisco doorway -- breaks down why this latest Aesop Rock-produced installment in the FELT series flows even better than its two predecessors, produced by The Grouch and Ant, respectively. Oh and this is not a trilogy that ends here, but rather an ongoing (perhaps never ending) series. We know what to expect next, as announced in the final lyrics of the closing track "Paul Reubens"..."Stay tuned, FELT 4: A Tribute to Heidi Fleiss." If you only buy one new hip-hop CD this week, make sure it's this one.
Other new releases on the latest Amoeba Music Berkeley Hip-Hop chart are the new Wyclef Jean (From The Hut, To The Projects To The Mansion), the recommended new release from Quannum's Gift of Gab (Escape 2 Mars), and Wu-Tang Meets The Indie Culture Vol. 2: Enter The Dubstep.
This installment, which is the follow-up to 2005's Wu-Tang Meets The Indie Culture Vol. 1, melds the sound of the Wu Tang with Dubstep -- which is a natural marriage of sounds and one that works really well with bass-thumping, pounding beats (care of such producers as Trillbass, Dakimh, Parson, DZ, Rogue Star, and Stenchman), injecting new life into old Wu-Tang vocal tracks.