This is the third and final part in the 2012 Year End Best of Hip-Hop Amoeblogs in which I do my personal top ten albums of the year, plus some other highlights of the past twelve months in hip-hop music and culture. This is all from one person's perspective and includes some losses of 2012 like Adam "MCA" Yauch of the Beastie Boys who had been battling cancer since 2009 and passed on at the young age of 47. MCA joined the ranks of such other hip-hoppers as Camu Tao who also died from cancer. Coincidentally, 2012 was the year that Bay Area graffiti fan Sonae Ponce produced the Graffiti Against Cancer event. Within a week of MCA's passing, BK rapper Tone Tank recorded a great tribute to the Beatie Boy (with cool accompanying logo - left) based on the Beasties' "Shake your Rump."
Overall in 2012, we gained much more than we lost with such things as a resurgence in the art of the skratch DJ. Best evidence of the Return of the DJ in 2012? The return of the DMC DJ battle to San Francisco and releases such turntablists as DJ Needlz and DJ Moschops (who also raps). Also in 2012 artists began to specialize more in their own respective niches. These included Oh No's guest heavy tribute album to Dolemite, Ohnomite (Traffic Entertainment). In 2012 some of the best labels making music included Mello Music and Stones Throw.
1) Lazerbeak & Edison Kill Switch LP (Fieldwerk)
We received a whole bunch of these over a week early, and sold through our entire supply of them in a matter of days! Given the extremely high quality of the product, it’s no wonder we couldn’t keep this on the shelves. Kill Switch is hip-hop production of the highest caliber, brought to you by the strongest label in instrumental hip hop Fieldwerk Recordings. Doomtree’s Lazerbeak handles side A with a surprisingly subtle approach that occasionally bursts with brilliant color, delivering his finest solo instrumental work to date. San Francisco’s own genius button-masher Edison handles side B with a much rowdier gang of beats that show off his skillful production craft, with menacing guitar jabs and gangsta bleeps that form a cohesive whole. This one’s only available on vinyl, but it does come with a digital download card that’ll get it on your computer in a matter of minutes. Highly recommended!
2) Tajai Machine Language CD (Hieroglyphics Imperium)
Souls of Mischief frontman and Hieroglyphics mainstay Tajai’s new Machine Language mixtape has naturally been doing very well in the Bay. Features fellow Hiero members Casual, Opio and A-Plus, plus a joint with The Pharcyde, all for a super cheap price of $5.98. This mix CD is just a taster of random new Tajai tracks, but should tide the Bay’s Hiero fanbase over until Tajai’s new Rap Noir album drops later this year.
1) Gangrene Vodka and Ayahuasca (Decon)
2) Lushlife Plateau Vision LP (Western Vinyl)
3) Homeboy Sandman Subject Matter (Stones Throw)
4) Eligh & Amp Live Therapy At 3 ( Legendary Music/Live Up/Traffic)
5) Wiley Evolve Or Be Extinct (Big Dada)
For a change from the usual sales-based Amoeba weekly hip-hop chart this week's Hip-Hop Top Five Chart is my own personal favorite brand new and soon to drop hip-hop releases. Topping the chart is the amazing Oh No and The Alchemist group Gangrene's third and latest collaboration Vodka and Ayahuasca on Decon. Also here is the recent Eligh & Amp Live Therapy At 3 ( which gets better and better with repeated listens and the brand new Wiley
album Evolve Or Be Extinct - a double CD on Big Dada which will appeal equally to grime and hip-hop heads. Not out yet but worthy of mention It is the forthcoming Lushlife album Plateau Vision LP, which will be released in mid April on Western Vinyl, and is sure to propel to mainstream visibility the South Philly producer/emcee/musician who made waves last year with the much buzzed about mixtape No More Golden Days. As with that mixtape, which was an actual cassette tape, this new CD album blends mid 90's underground NY hip-hop flavor with Dilla/Madlib type production values. This is the sort of well produced album that will make you want to also track down the instrumental version. It's pure pleasure to listen to and Lushlife's flow is a treat to listen to. He is also joined by several well chosen guests throughout the 11 track album including Styles P, Canadian rapper Shad, Heems of Das Racist, and ex-Titus Andronicus garage rocker Andrew Cedermark who joins him on the album track "The Romance of the Telescope." My personal favorite tracks are the throwback eigthies/nineties sounding "Anthem" and the opening "Magnolia" which, over a dreamy hypnotic backdrop and a series of well chosen samples, finds Lushlife rapping about such things as graffiti and Coney Island. This is already making its way to becoming one of my year end top albums.
1) Gangrene Vodka and Ayahuasca (Decon)
2) Drake Take Care (Cash Money/Universal)
3) Moka Only & Chief Crickets (Feelin Music)
4) The Roots Undun (MCA)
5) Lazerbeak Lava Bangers (Doomtree)
Thanks again to diehard hip-hop music fanatic E-Lit at the Berkeley Amoeba store for this week's top five chart plus overview of some of the new releases for this exciting new year in hip-hop including the brand new 20 track Lazerbeak album Lava Bangers from the gifted member of the midwest hip-hop collective Doomtree who coincidentally will be doing a special Amoeba Music Berkeley in-store on Monday, Jan 30th 2012 in advance of their Slims San Francisco show the following night, Jan 31st. They will also be playing Santa Cruz the following night (Feb 1st) at the Catalyst (show info here) and Hollywood's Troubadour on Thursday Feb 2nd on a recommended bill with 2Mex. If you are in the East Bay on Monday (Jan 30th) do yourself a favor and stop into Amoeba Berkeley for the Doomtree family in-store since, as E Lit points out in the above video, it will be a great opportunity to meet and chat with such collective talents as Dessa, P.O.S., Sims, and Lazerbeak. More Doomtree Amoeba in-store info here