1) Ice Cube Raw Footage (Lench Mob)
2) GZA Pro Tools (Babygrande Records)
3) Lil Wayne Tha Carter III (Cash Money/Universal)
4) MF Doom Volumes 1 & 2 Nastradoomus (HHS)
5) Arabian Prince Innovative Life: The Anthology
1984 - 1989 (Stones Throw)
Thanks to Marques for supplying this week's top five chart for the Los Angeles Amoeba store. Hometown rap veteran Ice Cube occupies the number one slot with his latest album, Raw Footage, which hit Amoeba shelves August 19th. The album simultaneously debuted at No. 1 on both the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and Top Rap Albums Chart, and at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 pop album chart.
"Thank God the Gangsta's back... and we ain't got to put up with this brainless rap," spits Cube on the catchy new album track "Thank God" -- just one of many strong cuts on this eighth solo album from the 39 year old artist. Others include "Jack N The Box," "Here We Come" (feat. Doughboy), and the singles "Do Your Thang" and "Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It." And speaking of gangsta rap: listening to some of these new Cube tracks remind me of old Ice Cube and also of how the original gangsta rappers (NWA, Geto Boys, etc.), while demonized at the time for being so lyrically violent and offensive, were actually quite political and socially aware, comparatively more so than the most prominent current crop of gangsta rappers.
Other entries on the current chart include GZA, Lil Wayne, and the just released Stones Throw retrospective of the Arabian Prince's 1980's electro years. Last week the pioneering LA hip-hop artist and original NWA member did an instore at Amoeba Hollywood, which, according to Marques, included the artist playing a lot of electro and electronica.
I spent the last three weeks at home ---all three of them: the Atlantic coast of South Florida, North Carolina’s Outer Banks and the ever-proud capitol of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia. Each leg of the journey enjoyed its own specific soundtrack comprised of songs chosen because they serve to soften the blow of the kind of going home it is oft said one can never do, or, contrariwise, songs that heightened the potency of the nostalgia I felt at times like I was happily drowning in. These are essentially comfort songs, great candidates for the secret cache of music no one but you ever knows you have. Last night, for example, I caught a fellow coworker pouring over the inner sleeve of his new MC Hammer CD while waiting for the bus ---not that I was looking to catch him looking at anything--- and yet he made at least two excuses for having it in his hands before I had enough time to inquire, “What’s up?” We shared a laugh and bonded over our so-called “guilty” listening pleasures.
Future Sound of London (FSOL), the duo comprised of Garry Cobain and Brian Dougans, had their breakout hit with "Papua New Guinea" in 1991 and the track remains both the UK electronic group's best known and arguably best recording ever. It is one of those great records where the first time you heard it, it just grabbed you and pulled you in, leaving you thinking: WTF was that? Even now, all these years later, after just re-listening to it for the first time in ages, it sounds as tight (to these ears) as when it was first released 17 years ago.
The song has the perfect balance of the slow rumbling bass, a trancey mix of breakbeats, plus the pitch perfect mix of dreamy vocals and sounds, all cascading into a dance pop masterpiece; one that has been remixed to death by DJs/producers all over the world who all helped make this a true rave/club classic. One of the great remixes I got of it back in the day was by the Twitch guys -- the SF remix crew that included Jim Hopkins, who used to put out limited edition double vinyl (later released on CD) sets at 45RPM of nearly always really great remixes of popular rave/techno tracks, including many UK imports.
"Papua New Guinea" also appeared on FSOL's album Accelerator as well on the 1992 soundtrack to the film Cool World. Besides being remixed countless times, the song has also been released in various versions many times over the years since its original release (both bootlegged and legit versions + on countless compilations/DJ mixes) with the most notable including re-releases in 1996, 2003, and in 2001 when a five version EP of the song was released on FSOL's label Jumpin' & Pumpin featuring the original "Papua New Guinea" plus remixes by Hybrid, Satoshi Tomiie, Blue States, and Simian.
There are many bands over the years that I have been obsessed with. At one point it was Depeche Mode, The Cure, and The Smiths. Then it was Suede, Pulp, Blur, and The Verve. Once your obsession reaches a certain point, I think it never really goes away. Part of it is always there or it just builds and gets bigger and stronger. I have no doubt that these bands will be with me the rest of my life. Depeche Mode and The Cure are my Rolling Stones and The Who. The Smiths are my Beatles. My obsession can live on in Morrissey's solo career much like that of Paul McCartney does for fans of The Beatles. The Verve could not have come at a better time in my life. I sort of needed them. I needed a new band to latch on to and get obsessed with. My shoegaze bands like Ride, The Pale Saints, and Slowdive were starting to break up and dissolve away. The first Blur album had come out a couple of years prior to 1993, but I didn't really get into them until 1993. This was the year of the first Verve album, A Storm in Heaven and also the year of Blur's second album, Modern Life is Rubbish. The album that really made me a fan. 1993 was also the year of the self titled album by Suede and my first Pulp album, His 'N' Hers. Pulp had already been around for a decade or so but I had never heard of them until 1993. I suddenly had all these new bands to obsess over. The albums were all excellent and easy to get obsessed with. Many of my friends, and most everyone else in the world, were all into Oasis, but I remember seeing Oasis in some interview and right then deciding that I didn't want to like this band..but they obviously played a part in this period of music. Their debut album Definitely Maybe would come out a year later in 1994. These bands were also all over the magazines and a lot of my friends were also getting into the same bands. It was just an exciting time for music.