2009 was another good year for Bay Area rap/hip-hop, with a string of new releases dropping over the past twelve months, including the thirty four full-length releases listed below. Appearing in no particular order, these choices are based mainly on releases culled from the Amoeba Music San Francisco Weekly Hip-Hop charts compiled by Luis at the Haight Street store over the past year. Not every single Bay Area hip-hop release is included here (feel free to nominate any worthy omissions in the comments below), but many of them are, and they give a good sense of the vibrant Bay Area music scene for the year of 2009.
Three albums appeared on early 2009 Amoeba Hip-Hop charts but did not make the list below since they technically were each 2008 releases (released late last year): E40's The Ball Street Journal, released on Sic Wid It and distributed through Warner Brothers; San Quinn's From A Boy To A Man (SMC/Fontana); and Keak da Sneak & San Quinn's Welcome To Scokland on Ehustl, which combined the best of "the Sco" (San Francisco) with the "O" (Oakland) on an album that was extremely popular in the Bay in '09.
North Oakland rapper Mistah F.A.B. may not have released a new solo album in 2009 but he did pop up on countless other artists' releases over the past year, including most recently on The Grouch's just released Three Eyes Off The Time. Mistah F.A.B appears on the CD track "Already" with hella popular Fresno emcee Fashawn. F.A.B. also appeared on Fashawn's critically & commercially acclaimed official debut album, following a string of mixtapes, Boy Meets World on Loud, which was a hit at all three Amoebas. Mistah F.A.B. also released joint full-length projects in 2009 with both the Alchemist and Glasses Malone, with whom he unleashed The Sideshow CD.
One thing that distinguished 2009 from previous years was the sheer volume of releases coming from individual artists. In bygone years a Bay Area rapper might typically spend 18 months or two years before dropping a new album, but in 2009 they were (to paraphrase Ice Cube from his song "The Bomb") "droppin' more shit than a pigeon." Between mixtapes on CD, which essentially have become original albums nowadays, and actual official releases, as well as collaborating on albums with other artists, numerous Bay Area hip-hoppers were dropping two, three, or more releases in the one year.
Some of the most prolific Bay acts are J-Stalin, The Jacka, and Messy Marv (aka The Boy Boy Young Mess), who can be credited with five 2009 full-length releases. These include Cake & Ice Cream 2, Prices On My Head, Thug Money On Ya Family Vol. 1 & Vol 2, the just released Highly Aggressive Mixtape Vol. 1, and the compilation Draped Up and Chipped Out, Vol. 4. Pittsburgh born, Oakland raised The Jacka, who first came to fame as one of C-Bo's proteges the Mob Figaz, released the albums Tear Gas (which also charted well nationally on various Billboard charts: rap, R&B, Top 200); the brand new Broad Daylight ,with a December 15th release date; and the compilations The Price Of Money (with 12 Gauge Shotie) and Drought Season 2 (with another extremely prolific Bay artist, Berner), all in '09.
West Oakland rapper J-Stalin may have only officially gotten into the rap game three years ago but he has not wasted time in building up a fat catalog. In 2009 he can be credited with four full-length releases, including The Real World: East & West Edition (with Mayback), Giants & Elephants (with Guce), Prenuptual Agreement, and the mixtape teaser for it, Prenup: The Leak. Anticon duo Themselves (DoseOne and Jel, whose joint past memberships include the groups Subtle, cLOUDDEAD, and Deep Puddle) dropped two full-lengths in '09: the mixtape freeHOUDINIdeluxe and the more recent official release CrownsDown. Meantime, Del the Funky Homosapien released the solo (free digital) Funkman and the Tame One collab Parallel Uni-Verses.
Bay Area based New Jersey transplant Raashan Ahmad was also quite an active artist in 2009. Following touring to promote last year's first solo album, The Push on OM, the solo artist and Crown City Rockers frontman said he discovered that he wanted to add more banging songs to his live set, and hence this year's album Soul Power was recorded and released earlier this year. Some months later the Crown City Rockers released their stellar album The Day After Forever on Gold Dust Media, the same Brooklyn label that released Del's Tame One collab and also Zion I's amazing The TakeOver, which dropped at the start of 2009.
Two Bay Area hip-hop releases that were extremely popular at each of the three Amoeba stores were the brand new Souls of Mischief, Prince Paul-produced Montezuma's Revenge (look for an interview with Souls member Tajai in coming weeks here) and Gift of Gab's Escape 2 Mars. This is second official solo album release from the Quannum emcee, who is also one half of Blackalicious (with Chief Xcel) and a founding member of Bay Area rap-supergroup The Mighty Underdogs (with Lateef the Truth Speaker of Latyrx and producer Headnodic of the Crown City Rockers). He celebrated this new Dnae Beats produced album with an instore at the SF Amoeba on the day of its release and a few days later at the Hollywood Amoeba.
Other Bay releases include Fillmore, San Francisco rapper Big Rich's Heart Of The City; self-described “hip-hop geek" Kaz-Well, who dropped the retro hip-hop feeling Fish Outta Water over the summer; and Killa Keise's Yellow Tape Zone on Step It Up Entertainment which, like so many Bay Area rap releases, features a lot of homegrown talent joining, including Guce, J-Stalin, Shady Nate, Philthy Rich, Yung June, Beeda Weeda, Young Montana, A.G. and Messy Marv. DJ Fresh released The Album in the long running Tonite Show series of mixtapes. Its 22 star studded tracks include shots by E-40, Too Short, J-Stalin , Beeda Weeda, Mistah F.A.B., Shady Nate, D-Lo, Young Moses, Philthy Rich, The Jacka, Eligh, Bicasso, The Grouch, MURS, Kool G Rap, Money B of Digital Underground. Released on Town Thizzness, it was just one of several Thizz-related releases in the '09 that help keep the spirit of the late great Vallejo rapper Mac Dre (killed in Kansas City five years ago) alive.
2009 reissues of bygone era classic Bay Area albums include Young Cellski/aka 2Took Mr Predicter (Inner City 2K). Cellski also released a new album in 2009, Chef Boy Cellski: Culinary Arts Institution (Inner City 2k), for which the longtime rapper from San Francisco's Excelsior District donned a chef's hat and a culinary persona on the funny cover art. Another classic reissue this year was DJ Shadow's Diminishing Returns (Reconstruction Productions). His limited edition 2003 mix for BBC Radio was very limited when first released (reportedly only 1000 cds were originally pressed up of this British radio recording). Shadow also made news in 2009 as one of the DJs who lent his name/likeness to the popular new video game DJ Hero.
Another longtime Bay Area rap figure, Boots Riley of The Coup, kept himself occupied in '09 with the release of the Street Sweeper Social Club project for which he teamed up with Tom Morello (famed guitarist with Rage Against The Machine). In addition to releasing an album, the rock/rap group toured extensively in the second half of the year. And while he was busy doing that, fellow Coup member Pam the Funkstress busied herself between her catering business and DJing career that includes being a key member of B.A.S.S. (Bay Area Sistah Sound) along with DJ Zita and others. Not included in the list below but worthy of mention are such former Bay Area (currently in LA) hip-hop acts as Peanut Butter Wolf, head of Stones Throw who released 45 Live during '09; and members of the Living Legends crew, including the super talented emcee The Grouch, who released both Say G&E! with Eligh and his recent solo album, Three Eyes Off The Time, on Legendary Music.
Finally, they may not technically be from the Bay Area, but Humboldt County, CA duo Potluck, comprised of rappers UnderRated and 1-Ton, who released Pipe Dreams on Suburban Noize earlier this year, consider themselves a part of the Bay and have collaborated with numerous Bay artists over the years. The duo, who toured extensively in 2009 and were interviewed by the Amoeblog at BB Kings in NYC, say they have no plans of slowing down and see 2010 as another busy year. I think the same could be said for all of the Bay Area hip-hop artists listed here. Stay tuned throughout 2010 for updates.
34 BAY AREA 2009 HIP-HOP RELEASES IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER
The Jacka Tear Gas (SMC)
The Jacka & Berner Drought Season Vol. 2 (Bern One Ent.)
Zion I The TakeOver (Gold Dust Media)
Big Rich Heart of the City (3 Story Muzik)
Crown City Rockers The Day After Forever (Gold Dust Media)
Raashan Amhad Soul Power (Antiquiet)
DJ Fresh The Tonite Show (The Album) (Town Thizzness)
Gas Mask Colony Genuine Masters of Ceremony (Gurp City)
Killa Keise Yellow Tape Zone (Step It Up Entertainment)
Souls of Mischief Montezuma's Revenge (Clear Label Records)
Del The Funky Homosapien Funkman (FunnyMan Entertainment)
Del the Funky Homosapien & Tame One Parallel Uni-Verses (Gold Dust Media)
The Boy Boy Young Mess Prices On My Head Vol. 2 (Click Clack Records)
Messy Marv Draped Up and Chipped Out Vol 4 (Click Clack Records)
Messy Marv Cake & Ice Cream Mixtape Vol. 2 (Siccness)
Messy Marv & Berner Blow (Bern One Ent.)
The Boy Boy Young Mess Highly Aggressive (Click Clack)
Gift of Gab Escape 2 Mars (Cornerstone Ras)
TD Camp Face To Face (Hella Records)
Cellski Chef Boy Cellski: Culinary Arts Institutiion (Inner City 2k)
Young Cellski/aka 2Took Mr Predictor (Inner City 2000) (reissue)
Jern Eye Vision (MYX)
Themselves freeHOUDINIdeluxe (Anticon)
Themselves CrownsDown (Anticon)
J-Billion The Beautiful Loser (Risky Bizness Productions)
Kaz-Well Fish Outta Water (Tape Vault Records)
Yukmouth The West Coast Don (Smoke-A-Lot/RBC Records)
Philthy Rich Free Philthy Rich: The Album (Live Wire Records)
Potluck Pipe Dreams (Suburban Noize)
40Love BANGERANG! (No Label)
DJ Shadow Diminishing Returns (Reconstruction Productions) (reissue)
Nump Student Ov Da Game (30-30 Sic Wid It Records)
Eddi Projex I Got The Streets On Fire (Town Thizzness/Fontana)
Keak da Sneak Thizz Iz Allndadoe,Vol. 2 (Thizz)