Amoeba Music Hollywood Weekly Hip-Hop Top Five Chart: 10:01:10
1) Ice Cube I Am The West (Lench Mob Records)
2) Nas & Damian Marely Distant Relatives (Republic)
3) Eminem Recovery (Aftermath, Interscope, Shady)
4) Black Milk Album of the Year (Fat Beats)
5) 9th Wonder Presents Big Nemo Entrapment (The Orchard/Traffic)
Released this past Tuesday, veteran West Coast rapper Ice Cube's new album I Am The West (Lench Mob Records) has shot to the number one slot on the new Hip-Hop Top Five Chart at Amoeba Hollywood. Featuring the head-nodding, hook-driven lead single "I Rep The West" that's been out most of the summer, the album, although only dropping now at the end of the summer, is billed as a "celebration of summertime on the west coast." But really it's an anytime upbeat record that is not as strictly West Coast (i.e., G-Funk) sounding as one might expect it to be by its title. And while admittedly this is not Cube's finest work (that dates back to the first few years after he departed NWA), it ain't bad either. I rate it a 3 and half out of five star release, with strong cuts like the aforementioned lead single, plus "Nothing Like LA," "Hood Robbin'," and "No Country For Young Men." But the sixteen track album (that fortunately features no AutoTune and only a handful of his old school West Coat potnas) also has some filler, such as "Fat Cat." But considering the amount of time that Cube has been in the music biz (2+ decades) and the image challenge he faces with trying to balance being an actor and rapper (South Central gangsta rapper vs. family friendly figure in vehicles like Are We There Yet?), Cube somehow pulls it off, delivering bangers such as "No Country For Young Men" that remind one of the old Cube.
Ice Cube "No Country For Young Men" (2010)
Another brand new release out this week that's already on the Top Five is the latest from 9th Wonder, the unique producer who has that rare ability to appeal to both underground and mainstream hip-hop audiences. Since arriving on the rap scene as an original member of Little Brother, the artist has grown from strength to strength through a rich and varied series of collaborations. He's worked alongside a diverse array of artists that include Skyzoo, MURS, Jean Grae, Jay Z, Destiny's Child, Lil Wayne, Drake, and David Banner, who makes a cameo on this new Big Nemo joint Entrapment (sample below).
Like 9th Wonder, rapper Big Remo also hails from Winston-Salem, North Carolina and is part of his music family I's A Wonderful World Music Group. This debut from Big Remo features not only 9th Wonder's production but also some studio help from others in that strong music group: Young Guru, Khrysis and M. Phases.
9th Wonder presents Big Remo "Wonderbread (ft. David Banner)" (2010)
Also out this week is the new 15-track album from Group Home who first came to fame back in the day thanks to Gang Starr. The NYC crew have reunited to make a tribute album to the late great Gang Starr emcee Guru appropriately titled Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal on Babygrande Records. The album is a sort of thank-you to Guru who, along with Premier, helped first bring them up in the rap game when they were showcased on Gang Starr’s album Hard To Earn. That was in 1994. A year later Group Home released their own album, Livin’ Proof, their widely acclaimed debut.
For the new album, which is also a benefit for Guru's family, Lil Dap has returned with partner Melachi The Nutcracker, enlisting the help of legendary hip-hop icons Jeru The Damaja, Lord Jamar (Brand Nubian) & more. Be sure to check out the video below where Dap and Mel talk about coming up in the Bronx with Guru and DJ Premier and how the "grinding" included slinging crack at 14 years of age.
Lil Dap & Melachi The Nutcracker of Group Home talk about coming up hard in NYC
Pigeon John, along with DJ Abilities and Dark Time Sunshine, will be playing tomorrow afternoon at 3:30pm in Los Angeles at Hollywood's Siren Studios for Thrillist's Best of the Best Food Truck Rally and then two days later up in the Bay at Cafe du Nord in San Francisco on Monday, October 4th.
These shows are all part of the ongoing West Coast tour by the longtime LA artist (and LA Symphony member) who rose to prominence at the Good Life Cafe back in the early nineties. The tour is in support of Pigeon John's new solo album, Dragon Slayer, on Quannum Records (scheduled to arrive in Amoeba on October 12th), which was produced mostly by the artist himself with some assistance from General Electriks' Herve Salters.
Skyzoo & Illmind @ Listening Party at Guitar Center, NYC (2010)
Skyzoo & Illmind drop their new album Live From The Tape Deck on Duck Down Music this coming Tuesday (Oct 5th). The album, which has already gotten some pretty good reviews, including one in the October issue of XXL magazine, is done in the tradition of the classic hip-hop cassette tape, as explained by Skyzoo in the video clip above from a few weeks ago at Guitar Center in New York.
Unlike so many releases these days that feature a slew of producers and mic guests, Live From The Tape Deck is a distinct throw back to an earlier time in hip-hop (the cassette era, if you will) when an emcee and a single producer worked together on an entire album (think Eric B & Rakim or EPMD or Guru & Primo in Gang Starr). The actual sound, however, with dope beats by New Jersey producer Illmind, who has already provided soundscapes for G-Unit, Boot Camp Click, Red Man, Scarface, Eminem and Little Brother, is all contemporary hip-hop sounding.
The annual Estria Invitational Graffiti Battle is happening this weekend in the Bay Area with a slew of graffiti art related events jumping off in Oakland and San Francisco. Now in its fourth year, things kicked off last night with the (cleverly titled) Can Film Festival at the 1:AM Gallery in San Francisco with screenings of both Dirty Hands and Beat Street. The fun and art continue this evening with Pecha Kucha Night at Oaksterdam. Billed as "Graffiti Verses Street Art," the night will feature presentations by Estria, DREAM TDK (non mural work), 808 Urban, Trust Your Struggle, Angry Woebot, and Nicole Martinez on their history and perspective on graffiti and street art. The night begins at 7pm with the $10 (suggested donation) gaining admission and two drink tickets. Click here for more info.
The four day event continues tomorrow with the free Rough Sketch Opening Reception for National Art Show at 6pm to midnight at Pueblo Nuevo Gallery. Sunday's main event is also free -- the 4th Annual Estria Invitational Graffiti Battle at Life Is Living Festival at DeFremery Park (aka Little Bobby Hutton Park). For more information and complete details visit Estria's website.