Amoeba Music Berkeley Hip-Hop Top Five: Week Ending July 22, 2011
1) Beastie Boys
Hot Sauce Committee Part Two
Claiming the #1 spot for God-knows-how-many-weeks and counting is the new Beastie Boys' album Hot Sauce Committee Part Two which continues to rope in old fans and new fans alike with its lo-fi old school aesthetic and prominent guest features. About as popular as new rap records get, and pretty dang good to boot!
2) Vakill Armor of God (Molemen Inc.)
Resurfacing after a 6 year absence from the game is one of Chicago’s finest MCs Vakill, who ropes in Jake One and his long-time affiliates the Molemen for his grand return. Vakill is known for penning vicious punchlines so intricate that it takes the average listener more than three rewinds to figure them out, but Armor of God finds Vakill mellowing out on the battle raps a bit and focusing more on stories of the street and hardships in the Chicago rap scene. It’s the sound of a veteran who knows the streets of Chicago like the palm of his hand sitting back and examining the beauty and the tragedy of it all. Strong album.
3) Shabazz Palaces Black Up (Sub Pop)
Heralded by many left-field hip hop heads as one of the most exciting new releases in the world of rap music, Shabazz Palaces pairs the vocals of Butterfly from Digable Planets with a live band and captures a unique and wholly original sound in the process on Black Up. Equally influenced by electronic, indie rock and hip hop music, the group brings something new to the table and is sure to continue to gather a buzz under the guidance of Sub Pop. Check it out to see what the hype’s all about.
And on the Amoeba website Buy Stuff page where you can purchase this CD online there is a link to a free download of the new Shabbazz Palaces album track "An Echo From The Hosts That Profess Infinitum."
4) Curren$y Weekend at Burnies (Warner Bros)
Everybody’s favorite stoner rapper returns with another album of weeded out verses and blunted beats in Weekend at Burnies. Props to Curren$y for limiting the guest features strictly to his own circle of rap buddies and showing and proving his own skills as a rapper in the process. Shows that he can handle his business without Ski Beatz behind the boards as well. We got this one in along with two reissues of Curren$y’s older albums, “Jet Files” and “This Ain’t No Mixtape”… get’em while the getting’s good!
5) Pete Rock / Smif N’ Wessun Monumental (Duck Down)
The names spotlighted on the album Monumental should be enough to get any hip hop head at least a little bit excited. If the pairing of this legendary producer and the heralded Boot Camp Clik duo isn’t enough to spark your interest, the album also features Raekwon, Bun B, Sean Price, Styles P, Buckshot, Freeway, and more. A pretty colossal line-up indeed.
Gel Roc & Xczircles Beautiful Tragedy (Abolano)
Continuing Amoeba Berkeley’s spotlight on West Coast underground talent is this excellent new album from Gel Roc, which stands out as one of the most solid examples of stylistic Los Angeles hip hop that 2011 has to offer. Gel Roc has been holding it down as part of the Whittier CA crew Endangered Elements (EX2) since the turn of the century, and Beautiful Tragedy features some of his strongest MCing to date. The entire album is produced by Xczircles of the underrated CA group Escape Artists, and he laces Gel with some very interesting left-field production that incorporates lots of minimal keyboards and experimental jazz horn riffs. Gel Roc tends to rope in a lot of CA talent for his releases, and this album is no exception, boasting appearances from Aceyalone, Abstract Rude, Awol One, Joe Dub, Neila, Zagu Brown, Open Mike Eagle, Mestizo, Ecid, and many more. Features the amazing posse cut “Tragic Poetry,” which has numerous jaw-dropping verses from some of your favorite LA artists. This has been a pretty big seller at the store so far as well… West coast hip hop fiends should NOT sleep!
Gel Roc "Step Science" (2011)
Above is video for the track "Step Science" off the Beautiful Tragedy album that E Lit gave honorable mention to in his latest chart/album reviews (all above) from the Berkeley store this week. Thanks E-Lit!
Meanwhile down in LA at Amoeba Hollywood another staffer with excellent taste in music is the DJ and instrumental hip-hop producer artist who goes by the name Radius. And tomorrow (Saturday July 23rd) at 12:00pm the Chicago transplant, who has been described as a "next-level beatsmith" by ReverbNation, will be doing a live set & interview on Soul Circle Radio with Deejay Mza on the online station. Meanwhile former Amoeba Berkeley employee, the hard-working club DJ/remixer DJ Platurn just got voted as both "Best DJ" and "Best Mash-Up DJ" in the new East Bay Express' 2011 Readers' Poll. Other winners in the Arts and Culture part of the annual poll include Club Drama at The Uptown for "Best DJ Night at a Club," the word "Hella" for "Best East Bay Slang Word," KALX as "Best Radio Station," Goapele as "Best Singer," and Too $hort as "Best Rapper."
Kutmasta Kurt's illustrious abel Threshold Records is about to drop some very limited edition vinyl of interest to DJs, turntablists, producers, and beat fiends. Slated for an August 1st release date these LPs (also been released digitally) are the Bay-Bronx Bridge 10 Year Anniversary Remixes LP by KutMasta Kurt, Imperial and Tom C Three, and Drum-Break Hip-Hop Vol.2 by Imperial. This week I asked Kutmasta Kurt why Amoeba shoppers should cop these two new releases when they arrive instore?
"Well the fans need them because the music is straight up dope! the colored wax is packaged in a fresh clear plastic sleeve with printed stickers and each copy is also hand numbered," the veteran West Coast DJ/producer told the Amoeblog adding that hip-hop collectors should, "Reserve your copy now, before they sell out and end up on the wall in Amoeba sf next to that copy of the RBG Annihilation EP that's up there for $350!" - making reference to an early release of his when he was with the South Bay hip-hop group RBG (aka Red Black & Green) and their rare 1992 EP release Annihilation of A Nation (that came with a comic book inside) is up on wall of the San Francisco store (to the left when you walk into main open area) in the hip-hop rare collectibles section.
Playdough "Ya Heard (feat. Mr. Dibbs vs The Black Keys)" (2011)
Above is one of the great tracks off Playdough's brand new album HOTDOGGIN' on which the Dallas, TX artist demonstrates why he is such a crowd favorite on the local battle and freestyle scene. He’s the top Dallas freestyle rap champion of Monday Night Fights for two years straight now, as well as winning five times on Dallas radio station 97.9 The Beat’s ongoing Freestyle Fridays series. As well as Mr Dibbs and The Black Keys, who are featured in "Ya Heard" above, the sixteen track CD also features a cameo from from Quannum artist Gift of Gab.
Boyz N The Hood trailer
Appreciators of good quality audio and video will be pleased to learn that John Singleton's classic hip-hop movie set in South Central and starring Ice Cube Boyz N The Hood got released this week in Blu-ray format and is available from Amoeba for only $14.98 (including free shipping in the US). The new widescreen Blu-ray version comes in English with optional language choices of Arabic, Cantonese, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Spanish and Swedish or English subtitles. It can be found on this website's Buy Stuff section.
And, finally, below I leave you with another new video from Souls of Mischief's A-Plus. This one, directed by Austin Steele, is for the Hiero emcee's song "Road Trippin'" off his new album Pepper Spray.