Amoeba Music Hollywood Weekly Hip-Hop Top Five Chart: 07:02:10
1) Eminem Recovery (Aftermath, Interscope, Shady)
2) The Roots How I Got Over (Def Jam)
3) Drake Thank Me Later (Cash Money Records)
4) Nas + Damian Marley Distant Relatives (Republic)
5) Vinnie Paz Season of the Assassin (Enemy Soil)
As witnessed by this week's Amoeba Hollywood hip-hop chart, with repeat appearances of several recent hip-hop albums, there are some strong 2010 summer releases. One of these top records is Eminem's Recovery, which all agree is a better album than last year's Relapse. That 2009 release was originally meant to be the prequel to Recovery but then the artist changed that plan after wishing to distance himself from what he admitted was an inferior product. Another release that should remain on the charts throughout the summer is The Roots' recommended latest How I Got Over. It's a great release from an equally great band, who, thanks to being the house band for the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show over the past year, are getting wider exposure than ever before. A few weekends ago in Philly on June 5th the band hosted their 3rd Annual Roots Picnic with performances from Vampire Weekend, Jay Electronica, Mayer Hawthorne, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Method Man, The Foreign Exchange, Clipse, and hometown hip-hop legend DJ Jazzy Jeff, to name but a few. The band themselves also played, of course, and by all accounts it was the best Picnic yet. See video of the event below and read a report here.
Another very high profile new release/chart entry is the much talked about debut album from actor turned rapper/singer Drake, Thank Me Later, which, following all the hype since he unleashed last year's mixtape So Far Gone and became Lil Wayne's protege, has become the year's most anticipated release. Last month when Eminem was readying his new release, the press were more absorbed with all things Drake than Em. Naturally with all of this over-exposure and hype (including the past week's BET Awards naming him "Best Male Hip Hop Artist) you would expect the Drake backlash to begin about now, but it hasn't! The reality is Thank Me Later is a damn good release and few can front on that. With cameos from some of the biggest rap names including Jay-Z-("Light Up"), Lil' Wayne ("Miss Me"), and Young Jeezy ("Unforgetable"), Thank Me Later does not disappoint. Drake may not be the greatest rapper ever, but he is a damn good one and undoubtedly will be around for some time to come. Yesterday when I interviewed KRS-One for an upcoming Amoeblog I asked him who he thought some of today's better hip-hop artists are and he mentioned Drake at the top of his list.
Also on the new Amoeba chart is the just released Season of the Assassin from longtime underground hip-hop artist Vinnie Paz, who most know from his work with Jedi Mind Tricks and Army Of The Pharaohs. The MC has been putting it down for twenty years now, and on his first ever solo joint, he proves that he still has that edge and knack for lacing up engaging, grimy but thought-provoking tales. He also has enlisted a lot of help on Season Of The Assassin, which sports cameos from Freeway, Paul Wall, Ill Bill, R.A. The Rugged Man, Beanie Sigel, Clipse, Sick Jacken, and Block McCloud. Production wise he also gets help from some impressive hip-hop figures, including Madlib DJ Muggs, Lord Finesse, Da Beatminerz, Bronze Nazareth, and Jedi Mind Trick's own DJ Kwestion. A good album!
The Roots Picnic 2010, Philly, PA
Rammellzee's graffiti art
Last Sunday (June 27) hip-hop lost a pioneer when influential old school New York graffiti artist, emcee, sculpture artist & truly unique self-styled individual Rammellzee passed at age 49. No exact cause of death has been reported but apparently he had suffered a long illness. Born in Queens, NY, Rammellzee began his graffiti career when he was just barely into his teens. He began writing on the A train in Far Rockaway, Queens. A couple of years later he would cross paths with SONIC 002, with whom he would go out on several bombing expeditions. Later he would go on to paint subway trains with such other noted graffiti artists as Dondi, OU3, and Ink 76.
Known for his spiky-lettered graffiti style, it was his inclusion in Charlie Ahearn's film Wild Style that gained him wide respect as an artist and musician. He appeared on the soundtrack with "Rammellzee and Shock Dell at the Amphitheatre." His unique MC rhyming style can be heard in the below 1983 Profile Records 12" single from Rammellzee wtih K-Rob, "Beat Bop," whose cover art was produced by sometime collaborator Jean Michel Basquiat. The song was featured in the film Style Wars. As an emcee his distinctive rap style influenced many, most notably the Beastie Boys and Cypress Hill -- and consequently all the later artists who were influenced by both their respective styles.
Like many great artists, Rammellzee was a unique and most eccentric individual, one who would often be seen wearing one of his own designed Sci Fi tailored masks & costumes -- an extension of his work as painter and sculptor, and all based on his philosophy and art style which he called "Gothic Futurism."
He was also a member of the groups Death Comet Crew (DCC) and Gettovetts. In 1984 he made a cameo appearance in Jim Jarmusch's film Stranger Than Paradise.
Rammellzee vs. K-Rob "Beat Bop" (Profile 1983)
And finally, I leave you with another local rap video that features Amoeba Music San Francisco! It is the new music video for "The Ballad" from promising new Frisco underground hip hop crew The Jealous Guys. The Amoeba Music part is between the 2:14 and 2:16 mark.
The Jealous Guys "The Ballad" (2010)