G-Eazy "I Mean I (feat Nemo)" (2014)
1) Shabazz Palaces Lese Majesty (SubPop)
2) G-Eazy These Things Happen (BPG)
3) Madlib Pinata Beats (Madlib Invasion)
4) MF Doom Special Herbs, Vol. 5 & 6 LP (Nature Sounds/Fat Beats)
5) JJ Doom Bookend EP (Lex Records)
The number one selling hip-hop album at the San Francisco Amoeba Music store this week is the experimental hip-hop album Lese Majesty (also available in LP format) from Shabazz Palaces who just did a very well received in-store at the Haight Street store a couple of weeks ago (July 29th) in celebration of the new album by the Seattle based group fronted by Ishmael Butler (formerly known as Butterfly with Digable Planets) and multi-instrumentalist Tendai ‘Baba’ Maraire. The recently released Lese Majesty is the group's second studio album and follow up to their critically acclaimed 2011 debut Black Up. And so far the new 18 track album, whose title is the French term for criminally insulting or offending a head of state, has been garnering rave reviews like its predecessor did including high praise from the Amoeba site which lauded the 45 minute new album for "challenging and expanding the hip-hop landscape, taking it to the moon and beyond.....like a galactic sonic roller coaster."
Meanwhile the number two chart entry in new top five chart from the San Francisco store is the major label debut care of RCA from (seeming) overnight success G-Eazy. The well groomed, slick dressed East Bay rapper, who used to attend Berkeley High School where he started rapping and hustling by selling mixtapes in the hyphy era, may seem like an unknown and undeserving new star to many but the guy has talent, a strong work ethic, and a shrewd approach to marketing his talents and a burning ambition to take it to the top - something he seems to be on his way to accomplishing. Starting out a decade ago in the MySpace age he's worked hard at honing his craft and building on his fan base - and done hundreds of shows. Following several good breaks over the past six years he enjoyed his biggest breakthrough to date three years ago when his clever update of Dion's "Runaround Sue" (see video featuring Greg Banks below). It also helped him shape a musical style of taking older era well known hits and sampling them and building upon their basic structure but flipping it into a contemporary hip-hop style. Since so many were initially drawn to G-Eazy for this style he became known for those same longtime fans were a bit disappointed with the major label new album which (likely for copyright reasons) is short on samples but heavy on original music/tracks. Most however are loving the new album is really as much of a pop record as a hip-hop one as proven by the track above "I Mean I (feat Nemo)" off These Things Happen.
G-Eazy "Runaround Sue (feat Greg Banks)" (2011)
Real Quick ACAB - Do D.A.T. and Khafre Jay
In the ongoing controversy of the shooting death of the unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by Ferguson, St Louis police officer Darren Wilson many within the hip-hop community, from longtime activists like Chuck D to new artists in a genre often criticized for lacking any political voice these days, have been vocal on the subject since the shocking shooting happened last Saturday in Missouri. Many in the Bay Area making direct correlations of of Brown's shooting with that of the unarmed Oscar Grant at the hands of BART police. These include Do D.A.T. and Khafre from Music for Justice - a program of HipHopForChange - who are the makers of the above video/track which they dedicated to Brown and in which they address being black in America today and the chilling recurring memory of Oscar Grant's bloody murder at the East Bay BART station with such lyrical observations as "Being young and black is a lethal combination" like "I get a chill every time I'm at the Fruitvale Station. Me and Oscar Grant could easily change places".