Amoeba Music San Francisco Weekly Hip-Hop Top Five Chart: 02:06:10
1) Lil Wayne Rebirth (Cash Money/Universal)
2) The Madlib Medicine Show 1, Before The Verdict featuring Guilty Simpson (Stones Throw)
3) Oh No Dr. No's Ethiopium (Stones Throw)
4) Thavius Beck Dialogue (Mush)
5) Eligh Gandalf's Beat Machine Level 3 (Legendary Music)
The terms "highly anticipated" and "long overdue" each accurately apply to Lil Wayne's Rebirth on Cash Money / Universal, this week's number one hip-hop album at Amoeba Music San Francisco. However, it seems the term "disappointing" could also apply based on the overall negative review the album has received since its release earlier this week. The artist's seventh studio album and the follow up to his 2008 multi-platinum full-length, Tha Carter III, Rebirth is (as written about here) a repeatedly delayed release that should have come out almost a year ago. Due to one thing or another (many speculate that Lil Wayne's label insisted it needed more work & hence postponed its arrival in stores) the release date for the popular rapper's rock/hip-hop hybrid album (with Carter on the cover posing with electric guitar on lap) had been postponed about a half a dozen times in all. But now that Rebirth is finally available, what is the consensus on the music? Overall not good.
Even diehard Lil Wayne fans I casually polled were disappointed with Rebirth. And the press at large has been even less charitable in reviews of the rap-meets-rock release. "If Boba Fett made a record with Nickelback....Nu-metal-meets-AutoTune gumbo never treads beyond its initial concept -- "I'm a dope boy with a guitar"" panned the Ottawa Citizen. The LA Times dished, "Rebirth deserves its reputation as one of the worst albums of the year so far. With luck, Wayne will return to what he does best -- and soon."
The Chicago Tribune was equally brutal, calling Wayne's lyrics "crushingly banal" and summing up the project as among "the worst career missteps by a major artist in recent memory." But in Lil Wayne's defense, I say props to him for at least experimenting and trying something musically different -- and also props to him for laughing all the way to the bank since, in addition to Rebirth being number one at Amoeba this week, I am pretty sure that it will likewise end up being the top Billboard Pop Album chart release of the week once the national sales figures are tallied.
The ever prolific Stones Throw Records label, headed by Peanut Butter Wolf and run by a staff of hardworking music fanatics, continues to pump out a seemingly never ending barrage of diverse sounding releases. These include the V/A collection The Minimal Wave Tapes Volume One, Strong Arm Steady's In Search of Stoney Jackson, Oh No's Dr. No's Ethiopium, and The Madlib Medicine Show 1, Before The Verdict featuring Guilty Simpson.
The latter is the first in the promising Madlib produced The Madlib Medicine Show once-a-month, twelve-CD, six-LP series which will be a combination of all things Madlib based, from his new hip-hop productions, remixes, beat tapes, and jazz excursions, plus mixtapes of the adventurous musical excursions into funk, soul, Brazilian, psych, etc. etc. that we have come to expect from the super skilled Beat Konducta himself. The seventeen track Before The Verdict featuring Guilty Simpson is a sort of teaser mixtape preview to Madlib & Guilty Simpson's forthcoming OJ Simpson album. So far only on CD, the vinyl edition of the release will be a hand-screened, limited edition release. And coming next in the 12 part series will be The Madlib Medicine Show No. 2, Flight to Brazil.
Another prolific label is the Living Legends collective's Legendary Music label, which returns to the current chart with Eligh's Gandalf's Beat Machine Level 3. This record is the third in a series that began a decade ago and features 24 new tracks. Also on the new Amoeba hip-hop chart is Thavius Beck, the LA emcee/producer/multi-instrumentalist who came to fame back in the day via the Project Blowed open mic workshop in LA's Leimert Park. In the years since Beck has been a most prolific producer and he returns now with the Mush release Analogue, which offers up fifteen dope tracks, including "IDC," "Sheepish," "Violence," and "Hardcore."
Other new releases of note (according to Luis at Amoeba SF, who supplied this week's chart) include the recently arrived purple vinyl version of Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II ($17.98 for the double vinyl set) and the limited edition run of Edan's Echo Party on vinyl, which comes in individually handmade silk screened jackets. Note that if you buy it at the San Francisco Amoeba, the LP, which costs $17.98, comes with a free Edan poster while supplies last.
A lot has happened for Oakland indie hip-hop group The High Decibels since they first arrived on the scene just sixteen months ago. This time last year, with only one independent label release to their name (HD on Oakland's Rolling Jack Records), one of their songs ("That Dude") was featured as the soundtrack to a Super Bowl TV commercial. That ad (for Bud Light Lime) has been replayed on TV many times since, gaining them even more major exposure. And add to that the fact that their music was also featured during 2009 in an episode of the popular HBO series Entourage. Now the unassuming group is back with a new release and a show at the Viper Room in Hollywood on Tuesday.
The group, which formed when guitarist KC Booker met up with emcee Duke Johnson at a Berkeley Poetry Slam, shaped into a unique rap group. Their sound -- with all live instrumentation -- is musically more classic Chess blues-esque than sample based funk breaks. The High Decibels have produced such 2008 college radio hits as "That Dude" off their debut. Fronted by Duke and his longtime mic sidekick Chief (both pictured left), the lineup now includes emcee G Saleen backed by KC Booker and band. In celebration of their about to drop second release, the four song EP Cut Loose, the group will play Wednesday (Feb 10th) at the Viper Room, located at 8852 Sunset Blvd -- not too far from Amoeba Hollywood. 8pm show. $10. TIx and more info here.