Amoeba Music Berkeley Weekly Hip-Hop Top Five Chart: 03:05:10
1) Freeway & Jake One The Stimulus Package (Rhymesayers Entertainment)
2) The Last Electro Acoustic Space Jazz Percussion Ensemble Miles Away (Stones Throw)
3) Madlib Medicine Show #2, Flight To Brazil (Stones Throw)
4) Madlib Medicine Show #1, Before The Verdict featuring Guilty Simpson (Stones Throw)
5) Strong Arm Steady In Search of Stoney Jackson (Stones Throw)
Once again, the ever prolific Madlib and his ubiquitous label Stones Throw dominate the latest Amoeba Music Weekly Hio-Hop Chart. This week the hardworking producer/DJ/MC (born Otis Jackson, Jr.) is behind four of the five chart entries at the Berkeley Amoeba store (every chart entry but Freeway & Jake One's The Stimulus Package). Both the premiere edition of Madlib's ambitious twelve part, once-a-month, 2010 Madlib Medicine Show CD series and the second installment made the list. This series, which is actually through Stones Throw on Madlib's own imprint, Madlib Invazion, is being released approximately every four weeks, with the odd numbers in the series being original productions by Madlib and the even numbers being mixtapes. The first part featured Guilty Simpson and acted as a kind of prequel to his anticipated upcoming release, while the recently released second part, Madlib Medicine Show No. 2: Flight to Brazil, is a one hour, twenty-minute Madlib mix of three or four decades of Brazilian funk, psychedelic, prog-rock and jazz. The CD comes with an eight page booklet which the folks at Stones Throw describe as "containing anonymous liner notes that we have yet to make complete sense of." This is a CD only release. Meanwhile, Strong Arm Steady's In Search of Stoney Jackson, which has been selling well at each Amoeba store since it was recently released, is another Madlib production, with guest appearances joining the SoCal act including Talib Kweli, J-Rocc, Guilty Simpson, Little Brother’s Phonte, Fashawn and Planet Asia. This is one of those albums that will restore your faith in hip-hop if it had ever faltered.
Don't let the artist name The Last Electro Acoustic Space Jazz Percussion Ensemble, whose CD Miles Away (Stones Throw) is this week's number two chart entry, fool you. Yes, this eclectic jazz release is another Madlib production. Here he produces and arranges all ten tracks in a tribute to some of his favorites, while covering a variety of jazz styles, with tracks including "Waltz For Woody" (For Woody Shaw), "Mystic Voyage" (For Roy Ayers), "Two Stories For Dwight" (For Dwight Tribble), and "The Trane & The Pharoah" (For John Coltrane & Pharoah Sanders). With this release, on which Madlib acutely embraces the approach to jazz production, he proves what an innovative and incredibly knowledgeable hip-hop producer he is; one who is constantly thinking and working far beyond the stereotypical confines of contemporary pop music.
QUICK BITS: As reported by the LA Times yesterday, a Superior Court LA judge sentenced 35 year old Swedish hip-hop artist David Jassy to 15 years to life in the 2008 Hollywood road rage manslaughter of 55 year pianist John Osnes. Osnes, a pedestrian, was killed in a late-night confrontation at the intersection of Schrader Avenue and Selma Boulevard. According to witnesses, Osnes hit the hood of the stationary SUV that Jassy was in, spurring the fatal altercation.
Call it the luck of the Weezy, but rap star Lil Wayne had some good luck (if only temporarily) again this week in the postponement of his impending 12 month jail stint based on a gun possession case in which he pleaded guilty in exchange for a one-year prison sentence. The New Orleans artist, who recently had his sentence put on temporary hold so that he could undergo dental surgery, this time lucked out when a basement fire shut down Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday this week, the day Wayne had traveled to New York City all set to spend his year in Rikers Island. But unless Lil Wayne, whose critically panned album Rebirth continues to sell well and is number six on the latest Billboard album chart, can luck out a third time, his sentencing will take place in the Manhattan court on Monday (3/8).
Not so lucky this week was emcee GURU of Gang Starr fame, who, following a serious heart attack over the weekend, was in a coma on Monday. Some online reports, based on speculation rather than fact, insinuated that the artist born Keith Elam was either going to be a vegetable for life or, worse, had already died. This of course was not true, and following a successful surgery on Tuesday the influential 43 year old, Boston born hip-hop figure was on the road to recovery.
And by Wednesday he was well enough to issue a statement to AllHipHop.com, saying, "I am doing fine and I am recovering! I'm weak though. Solar [his production partner of the past six years after he stopped working with DJ Premier] is the only person who has the accurate info on my situation. Any info from anybody else is false! I appreciate your well wishes and all the love!" However, the same day that this statement was released, GURU's nephew Justin posted this YouTube clip in which he accused Solar of manipulating his uncle, being a control freak, unfairly interfering in GURU's business and blocking his immediate family from seeing him while he is in the hospital.
Longtime super-skilled Bay Area DJ Ren the Vinyl Archaeologist has another busy weekend ahead of him. Tonight he will be spinning hip hop, funk, electro & house in Oakland at The Layover (the recently launched cool new spot owned by Prozack Turner of Foreign Legion fame) and tomorrow Ren will be throwing down at the Ivy Room at 860 San Pablo (near Solano) in Albany. And the good news is that there is no cover at either venue. 21+.
GRAFFITI NEWS: Published last year and a must have graffiti art book for fans of early NYC graffiti is Jack Stewart's Graffiti Kings: New York City Mass Transit Art of the 1970's (Abrams), which is a 224 page, 275 color photo collection of old school New York subway graffiti shot by Stewart in the seventies. It is a wonderful complimentary piece to the influential, landmark 1984 publication Subway Art by Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper, which was republished by Chronicle Books last year in an expanded larger edition appropriately retitled Subway Art: 25th Anniversary Edition. Stewart's book takes us back to an even earlier period in NYC subway graffiti.
While Subway Art featured photos taken by Cooper and Chalfant from the late 70's to early 80's, Stewart (a painter, muralist, & art historian who passed in 2005) was taking photos from 1971 to 1977 in the pre Mayor Ed Koch era of the Big Apple when John Vliet Lindsay and Abraham David Beame were each mayors. Stewart writes about such times as a period in the summer and fall of 1972 when there was a vigilant campaign that temporarily wiped out subway graffiti. In fact, the book is from a time so early on in the art form that many of the pieces photographed look comparatively primitive, since the art form was still coming into its own. Artists featured in the book include TAKI 183, BLADE 1, and PHASE 2, who are both showcased as well as interviewed. Also interviewed are some non appreciative city officials. The book takes us back to a time in the history of NYC graffiti that has not been this comprehensively documented in both text and photos. An amazing book!
Contemporary New York City & Miami based, low-light specializing urban photo-journalist duo James and Karla Murray, whose recommended books include STORE FRONT- The Disappearing Face of New York, Miami Graffiti, and the two renowned NYC graffiti collections Broken Windows: Graffiti NYC and Burning New York, which between them excellently document New York City graffiti from the past decade plus, have just republished Broken Windows: Graffiti NYC, which nicely documents the beginnings of the post-train era of NYC graffiti (circa 1996 - 2001). The newly revised 2010 edition is hardcover (originally only soft) and has been redesigned and expanded to include 70 more pages with lots of new photographs included.
About to be released is the DVD Jersey Burns, which is a comprehensive chronicling of contemporary New Jersey graffiti. The first volume in a promising video series, this ninety minute DVD, which is made by graffiti artists & enthusiasts, showcases the work of 22 different artists from the Garden State. Below is the trailer for Jersey Burns.