For this week's Hip-Hop History installment we rewind back to wonderfully vibrant year of 1988. It was a time when hip-hop still constantly growing, with exciting sounding new artists constantly unfurling new lyrical and musical sounds. To me '88 was part of the third wave of hip-hop - with the first wave being the (original) old school artists of the 70's/early 80's, who were eclipsed earlier in the 80's by Run-D.M.C. who ushered in the "new school" - but who themselves in turn were eclipsed by this newer third wave of hip-hop. It often seemed (and more so in retrospect) that every record released in '88 was a good record. Of course, as with any music in any time period, there were hip-hop duds released in '88 too. However overall it is fair to say that 1988 had a larger percentage of quality, diverse-sounding, influential, and timeless hip-hop releases than many other years in the genre's four-decade history. And no wonder; it was part of the time frame known as the "golden era" of hip-hop that is widely considered to be the artistic pinnacle of the art form. I think part of the reason for this, along with the lyrical aspect of the artform still being relatively young and still being explored by new emcees like Rakim, was the fact that sampling was at its creative peak. Remember this was in the period before the infamous 1991 landmark Gilbert O Sullivan vs Biz Markie copyright case that essentially brought an end to free range sampling, and would end up in hip-hop being a little less adventurous sounding due to all the restrictions placed on it regarding sampling.
Lots of videos in this week's hip-hop rap up including KALX DJ/Amoeba Music employee at the Berkeley store E-Lit doing a nice overview of the new and recent CD and LP hip-hop (and related) releases to arrive in store lately and make up the two new top five hip-hop charts below - divided into CD and vinyl sections since there is so much more vinyl coming out these days - new and reissues like the 180 Gram reissue of Too $hort's 1980's classic Born To Mack. But first we send out our condolences to the family of A$AP Yams (pictured above and left with the A$AP crew) who died over this past weekend.
One of the founding members of New York City's very successful A$AP Mob collective it was first widely rumored via social media on Sunday that he had passed away as the result of a drug overdose. However associates of his in the collective insisted that those rumors were untrue and totally unfounded. As of now no official cause of death is known but what is known is that Yams' roommate in Brooklyn called 911 after finding laying down unconscious.
1) Homeboy Sandman Hallways (Stones Throw)
2) Dilated Peoples Directors Of Photography (Rhymesayers)
3) Slimkid3 & DJ Nu-Mark self titled (Delicious Vinyl)
4) Souls of Mischief There Is Only Now (Linear Labs)
5) Busdriver Perfect Hair (also in LP format) (Big Dada)
During last evening's Bay Area hip-hop themed Talk, Play, and Sip session I hosted at the Oakland Museum of California - as part of OMCA's ongoing Amoeba sponsored VINYL: The Sound and Culture of Records - several participants addressed in their shares the importance of hip-hop as a vehicle for a message of upliftment and/or awareness rather than simply mindless escapism and glorification of consumerism, sexism, and casual violence. Speakers including Bas-One, Adisa Banjoko (below), and Eric Arnold each addressed the topic as did DJ Platurn (pictured above) who observed that to his fellow speakers, who all came up in the era of politicized, positive thinking hip-hop via artists like Public Enemy and the Bay Area's Paris, were all conditioned to view hip-hop as a powerful medium of message and change. DJ Platurn's Talk N Play 45's record selections reflected that too, especially Too $hort's classic 1990 single "The Ghetto" (off Short Dog's In The House) which addresses the poverty and economic disparity of urban areas like Oakland. Also noted at last night's OMCA session was how Bay Area hip-hop has traditionally included many politicized artists. One such current example is Dregs One who, along with host Equipto and a grip of other SF artists and speakers (see flyer for full lineup), take over Slim's tonight in a benefit hip-hop show that will address pressing local community issues such as evictions, gentrification, and police brutality.