New releases to Amoeba this past week include the EP 20 Lights (Bern One Entertainment) by the numero uno Bay Area weed ambassador Berner whose prolific output disproves that old belief that weed makes you lazy (his last release - the album Drugstore Cowboy - dropped just three short months ago). Included on this new joint (pun intended) guest heavy, seven song CD are collaborations with such fellow dank-loving talents as Wiz Khalifa, Curren$y, Smiggz, The Jacka, and Mac Dre (the latter two Bay Area greats no longer with us - rest in peace). Also new this week is the vinyl version of Sour Soul by BadBadNotGood backing Ghostface Killah that was released on CD a month ago. This explicit new vinyl version, that is care of Lex Records, comes complete with a digital download card. is available in regular the two download-only smoked and chopped 8Ball & MJG albums Comin Out Hard and On The Outside Looking In remix projects by Green Thumb that feature Dirty South rap tracks each given that hella slowed down and extended remix treatment.
The above Sonali Aggarwal directed documentary with the self-explanatory title What Ever Happened to Hip Hop? poses that eternal question among diehard hip-hop followers about however did hip-hop get from point A (IE the more conscious, thought-provoking and lyrically loaded music of decades bygone) to point B (today's more hook driven popular rap). Even though the little viewed documentary was made a few years ago and on a limited budget it is well worth watching and raises some important points especially on the topic of the commodification of the music by major corporations. Most intriguing are the revelation about the artist no-play list that exists at BET, and the points raised about the consumption of popular rap via exposure to airplay with the theory that what we think we like is what is familiar and recognizable - something repetitive airplay will result in.
Also impressive with this documentary is its list of interviewees including KRS-One, Jean Grae, MC Lyte, Afrika Bambaataa, Busy Bee, Slick Rick, and Kool Keith who jokes about coming up with the basis of a pop rap hit. Although, as with many interviews with well-meaning longtime hip-hop fans on their beloved subject, the conversation sometimes takes on an elitist tone with some old school heads dismissing everything new as "shit-hop" or "hip-pop." I hear where they are coming from but cannot fully agree as the state of hip-hop - now or anytime before in its 40 year history - is not just black and white issue. It's a lot more complex than that with a lot of grey in between with hip-hop continually evolving and incorporating new elements and nuances.
Amoeba Music Berkeley Top Five Week Ending August 10, 2012
1) Rick Ross God Forgives, I Don’t (Def Jam)
While not pulling quite as huge numbers as anticipated, Rick Ross still takes the crown as this week’s hip hop best-seller and ain’t showing any sign of slowing down in sales with God Forgives, I Don't on Def Jam. Rick Ro$$ the boss gets my vote as one of the most requested rappers from Amoeba Berkeley customers, so naturally his new official solo joint is a mover. Features songs with Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, Wale and Drake plus the prime cut beat selections you’ve come to expect from Rozay. The special deluxe edition of album also features bonus jams with Nas and John Legend. As far as mainstream hip hop goes, this album’s loaded so don’t sleep.
2) La Coka Nostra Masters of the Dark Arts (Fat Beats)
Amoeba Music Berkeley Hip-Hop Top Five Chart: Week Ending June 22, 2012
1) Del & Parallel Thought Attractive Sins (Parallel Thoughts)
2) House Shoes Let It Go (Tres Records) (CD + LP)
3) Kool Keith Love and Danger (Junkadelic)
4) Big K.R.I.T. Krit Wuz Here (Green Streets Int)
5) Phonte Charity Starts At Home (Hbd Label Group)
Thanks to E Lit for this week's (video version) of the hip-hop report with new videos by artists below (some on the chart, some not) and E Lit doing a run down of releases and upcoming shows in video above.
Phonte "The Life of Kings (feat. Evidence & Big K.R.I.T.)" from Charity Begins At Home (2012)
Amoeba Music Berkeley Hip-Hop Top 5 Chart: 06:15:12
1) J Dilla Rebirth of Detroit (Yancey Music Group)
2) Oddisee People Hear What They See (Mello Music)
3) Oh No Ohnomite (Traffic Entertainment)
4) Curren$y The Stoned Immaculate (Warner Brothers)
5) Kool Keith Love and Danger (Junkadelic Music)
Thanks to E Lit at Amoeba Berkeley for supplying both the new top five chart left and the video above in which he breaks down both the new chart entries and all of the brand new hip-hop releases this week at the East Bay music store where, as with the both the San Francisco and Hollywood Amoeba Musics, the new J Dilla release is the top item in demand. The anticipated latest posthumous release, Rebirth of Detroit , from the late great, highly revered Detroit artist once known as Jay Day but widely known as J Dilla was overseen by his mom Ms Yancey, aka Ma Dukes, and is released via her Yancey Music Group.