We’ve already done our fair share of end-of-the-year lists, but with all the hooplah about Kendrick Lamar this and Beach House that, we were bound to miss a few records that some of us really loved. Below are 10 you can download from Amoeba.com.
Dement’s woozy voice and salt-of-the-earth lyrics have please roots country fans for years, and in 2012 she released one of her best collections yet, Sing the Delta. She can sing a blues ballad to break your heart (“Before the Colors Fade”) or a rollicking country rocker (“The Night I Learned How Not to Pray”) with equal ease, her voice carrying a remarkable tone that pierces through like a biting wind chill.
This second part in the 2012 best of hip-hop series is a Top 130 album chart that is based on sales at Amoeba Music over the past twelve months. It is comprised of nearly all 2012 releases, but since it reflects sales in 2012, there are a few previous year crossover releases such as late 2011 albums like The Roots' Undun (MCA).
The list is a combo of both CD and LP releases since more releases were issued on vinyl in 2012 than in the previous years. (Ironically, major labels who were the ones trying to kill off vinyl back in the early 1990's as they were pushing CDs heavily have issued a lot of vinyl versions this past year.) There are some EPs included here as well as full-lengths such as Homeboy Sandman's Subject Matter on Stones Throw and Azealia Banks 1991 EP (Interscope). The chart is compiled based on the weekly hip-hop top five sales charts from the three Amoeba Music stores (Hollywood, Berkeley, and San Francisco) submitted to the Amoeblog over the past year. This is a good gauge of what was popular and selling at the three Amoeba stores and via the Amoeba online store for 2012. It also should be noted that the first top fifty chart entries far outsold the next eighty releases. Not surprisingly Kendrick Lamar topped the chart with his commercially / critically acclaimed Good Kid M.A.A.D City CD on Dr. Dre's Aftermath label. In addition to such other as across the board (national commercial) hits like 2 Chainz Based on a T.R.U. Story, Kanye West Good Music Cruel Summer (Def Jam), Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1 (Atlantic), and Nas' Life is Good (both on Def Jam), Amoeba shoppers also picked up a lot of indie label releases in quantity such as Aesop Rock's Skelethon (Rhyemsayers Ent.), El-P's Cancer4Cure (Fat Possum), Gangrene Vodka and Ayahuasca (Decon), and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' The Heist (Macklemore LLC). As well as new releases the chart also features some reissues such as The Pharcyde's Bizarre Ride II: The Pharcyde [Expanded Edition] (Delicious Vinyl), Notorious B.I.G.'s Ready to Die, and RBL Posse 20th Anniversary (Rightway Productions) which was a reissue of their three 1990's albums.
Catchiest damn hip-hop song of 2012: MaLLy & The Sundance Kid "Shine" from The Last Great….
Another year over, a new begun - well almost - so it is time to look back at 2012 in hip-hop, which in my opinion has been a really incredible year especially in terms of indie releases. I will focus primarily on indie releases in this first of a two-part hip-hop 2012 retrospective. Indeed 2012 was a great year for the genre with a wide and rich variety of hip-hop being made by artists from all over, including some incredibly well-made videos - all done on tight budgets. Year-end lists are by their very nature subjective and this one is certainly no exception. Like all year end "best of" lists, it is wide open to change and alterations (additions or deletions) at a moment's notice. Odds are I wont even agree with my own picks this time next month since my tastes are constantly changing and since there is just so much good music that I am constantly catching up on.
However with that said if I had to pick one hip-hop song based on pure catchiness of both production and lyrics, a song that grabs me as much today as when I first heard it eight months ago, it would be MaLLy & The Sundance Kid's "Shine" (video above) from their 2012 album The Last Great….
1) K'Naan Country, God Or The Girl (Octane/A&M)
2) Zion I Shadow Boxing (Live Up Records)
3) Macklemore The Heist (Macklemore, LLC.)
4) Prince Paul & DJ P. Forreal Negroes On Ice (The Red Lion Group)
5) Rapsody The Idea of Beautiful (Jamla Records)
Thanks to the ever knowledgeable, hip-hop loving E-Lit at the Berkeley Amoeba store for taking time to do a run down of all the new and recent hip-hop releases at Amoeba both vinyl and CD. In the new top five chart the number seller is the brand new K'Naan Country, God Or The Girl on Octone/A&M. "Love is harder than war. I’ve had the chance to write about my experiences in a difficult and violent life. But when the suffering and the pain is something that comes from within me, it’s harder to react and to write about that," said the Somali Canadian multi-talent of the new album's content which features the lead pop-rap single that dropped several months back, "Is There Anybody Out There?" and features Nelly Furtado (see below). On Country, God Or The Girl is the internationally popular artist's attempt to, he says, address "the internal wars, rather than the external ones, which I'd been preoccupied with on my previous albums."
Other releases on the new chart include the ever-popular Seattle, WA rapper Macklemore, who earned many new fans c/o his recent viral video for "Thrift Shop," legendary producer Prince Paul teaming up with DJ P. Forreal, and North Carolina female emcee Rapsody with her most impressive official debut The Idea of Beautiful on Jamla Records. The album on which she displays a sick flow again begs the age old question in hip-hop: how come there are still such a small ratio of female rappers to male rappers? Oakland duo Zion I's newest album, which is their eight to date, continues to sell as the pair of Zumbi and Amp Live continue their current tour. Other excellent new/recent releases include Homeboy Sandman's First of A Living Breed on Stones Throw (see video below for new album track "Not Really"), and the brand album which drops next week from Rhymesayers artist P.O.S. We Don't Even Live Here which takes hip-hop into whole new territory. Note the CD comes with real nice packaging with a great booklet with some strange but intriguing photo art.