1) Zion I & The Grouch Heroes in the Healing of the Nation (Z&G Music)
Not surprisingly, the new Zion I & The Grouch album has become a major seller at Amoeba’s Bay Area locations. Both Zion I & The Grouch command a huge amount of respect in the local scene, largely thanks to their work ethic and the consistent quality of their recordings. They’ve garnered a lot of national attention in recent years, but the Bay continues to remain their greatest supporters.
2) Pharoahe Monch W.A.R (We Are Renegades) (Duck Down)
Hot on the heels of the new Zion I & The Grouch album is the latest from Pharoahe Monch, one of the more technically talented MCs in hip-hop as far as voice and cadence go, and who has released a number of great recordings solo and in his group Organized Konfusion. This new one takes Monch back to his indie roots, pitting him against an exciting cast of producers and keeping things progressive in terms of his style and approach.
3) Lupe Fiasco Lasers (Atlantic)
Holding its major selling position from last week is Lupe’s new one, which continues to receive a large amount of media attention as it walks the fine line between radio friendly pop music and conscious hip-hop.
4) E-40 Revenue Retrievin: Overtime Shift (EMI)
E-40 is another Bay Area legendwho’s always on his grind, and his recent release of two new albums in the Revenue Retrievin series seems to indicate that he’s not planning on slowing down any time soon. The Overtime Shift of the series features Bay Area favorites J-Stalin, B-Legit and The Click, as well as a guest shot from the one and only Devin the Dude. The last time E-40 put out two albums simultaneously, they both went through individual periods of selling quickly, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the Revenue Retrivin': Graveyard Shift ends up on one of these lists in the near future as well.
5) Wiz Khalifa Rolling Papers (Atlantic)
Wiz Khalifa is one of those modern wonders like Curre
n$y or Lupe Fiasco who each got a great deal of attention for their first album and now people are begging for more. The album Rolling Papers features Wiz Khalifa’s big single “Black and Yellow,” as well as a guest appearance from Too $hort on the song “On My Level.”
Honorable mention: Blueprint Adventures in Counter-Culture (Rhymesayers)
Blueprint has been holding it down as one of Columbus, OH’s finest rap talents for over a decade now, and this new album of his stretches the borders of hip hop until they snap and evolve into something new. Adventures in Counter-Culture is Blueprint’s most challenging work by far, bound to shock long-time fans due to how different it is from his earlier work and turn some new heads in his direction in the process. It’s also his most complete and polished body of work to date, and flows exceptionally well as an album.
As noted here on the Amoeblog, Foreign Legion, whose anticipated new album Night Moves (Quality Control) arrives in Amoeba on Tuesday (April 12) on CD (with possible vinyl format to follow in couple of months), threw a big record release in their hometown on Friday night at Disco Volante in downtown Oakland. Yesterday I caught up with the group's Marc Stretch to ask him how he felt the pre-release party & film screening went. "Epic! Two full sets of fury. Blow up doll included," he replied in his typical witty mode. Other Bay Area artists with new releases coming soon include Azeem with Soundproof (Oaklyn Records) and Del The Funky Homosapien with the ambitious triple album release The Golden Era (The Council).
Speaking of Oakland's long running Hieroglyphics crew, they just teamed up again with Oakland via Ohio crew & label signees The Chosen Few for a second song from The Mansion Series, "Easy To Find." Reppin the Hiero camp is Pep Love with Cold Showda from the Chosen Few. The cover art for the single is striking -- it's a photo shoot reenactment of Spike Lee's classic film Do The Right Thing.
On the cover Pep Love plays the role of Radio Raheem while Cold Showda poses as Spike Lee. With tight production by Unjust of Chosen Few, the two emcees spit memorable lines like, "Psychological warfare I feel for assault/ Well I'm exactly what your band not /Got me off of your mix like a ham hock/ beans and cornbread OH to Oakland," by Cold Showda. Continuing the Spike Lee movie theme, a video is coming soon from the collaborators.
Much hyped and still unsigned (but not for long) skate/punk hop-hoppers Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All have been having some Sex Pistols type fun toying with labels who are jockeying to sign the Cali group. Knowing how sought after they are, they've been making far fetched demands of these label heads, such as having them come to meet with them on their own turf, at their favorite skate shop. Labels vying to sign the group include Roc Nation's Jay- Z, SRC's Steve Rifkind, Interscope's Jimmy Iovine, and Sean "Diddy" Combs, who seems to be the most desperate of all to ink a deal. Reportedly Diddy went so far as to grant them their wish and set up a meeting between frontman Tyler the Creator and Justin Bieber. Of course, it remains to be seen, once signed, if Odd Future will live up to all the hype. Below is an interview with the group by Nardwuar at SXSW last month.