Oakland based hip-hop crew Zion I's sole remaining member Zumbi has been keeping busy, performing and recording as Zion I ever since his longtime musical partner/co-founder Amp Live quit the group a year ago. Next week on January 28th, Zion I performs at the Federal Underground in Long Beach on a bill with 2Mex and Crimewave 5150. On a separate bill a week later, Amp Live performs on February 4th with Vokab Company. When he split Zion I a year ago, he said it was to focus more on his solo work and the increasing number of outside projects he is undertaking. One of these is the new project Unified Highway. Unified Highway is the collaboration project of Amp Live and Rebelution founding member Eric Rachmany. As producer, Amp Live gracefully fuses the reggae vibes Rachmany brings with electronic and other flavors, creating a fresh new sound. Unified Highway's self-titled full-length vinyl release will be dropping in March.
Zion I fans will be happy to know that one of the album's many guests is Zumbi. He returns on a track with The Grouch, recalling the popular Heroes in the City of Dope 2006 collaboration between Zion I and The Grouch. Among the other forthcoming album guests are Busy Signal, Keznamdi, New Kingston, Shana Halligan, Garrett Douglas, and Sophia Scott.
On his excellent recent release Fear of Flying (Ineffable Music), West Coast producer Markis Precise plays host to a rich array of mic wreckers including such talents as Strong Arm Steady, Fashawn, Ras Kass, Gift of Gab, and Zion I's Zumbi. Noteworthy of the collaborative album, that the artist refers to as a "compilation," is the Fresno producer's gift at pairing just the right music with each of his vocal collaborators. He manages to bring out the very best in his guest emcees. Examples include "Frequency (feat. Zion I)" in which he not only provides the pitch perfect backing track for emcee Zumbi's unique, instantly recognizable flow, but sonically captures that Zion I vibe, particularly early era Zion I. And this is good news for longtime fans of the prolific, popular duo who may have pondered what future lay ahead for them with the announcement earlier this year of the exit of Zumbi's longtime partner in Zion I, producer AmpLive.
The folks at Oakland's Hieroglyphics hip-hop collective have announced the anticipated lineup for this year's Hiero Day that does not disappoint and happens on Monday, September 7th at 3rd and Chestnut Streets in Oakland. In addition to headlining act the Hieros, whose membership boasts members such as Souls of Mischief, Del the Funky Homosapien, Casual, and DJ Toure, this year's amazing Hiero Day 2015 lineup will feature 45 diverse acts across three stages that covers various eras and subgenres of hip-hop. This impressive lineup will include Tha Alkaholiks, who arrived on the hip-hop scene the same time as the Hieros; Odd Future's Domo Genesis; Cali Agents (Rasco and Planet Asia); Stones Throw founder DJ/producer Peanut Butter Wolf; Boots Riley's legendary Oakland political hip-hop soldiers The Coup; Freestyle Fellowship's super-gifted emcee Aceyalone; legendary Oakland rap duo the Luniz; Raashan Ahmad's group formerly known as The Mission - Crown City Rockers; MC Eiht's legendary '90s SoCal rap group Compton's Most Wanted; hometown hip-hop heroes Foreign Legion; Rhymesayers' female emcee talent Psalm One (who changed her name for a minute in recent years); Zion I, Phat Kat & Guilty Simpson; Equipto & Otayo Dubb; HBK members Kool John, P-Lo, and Jay Ant in separate sets; and hyphy era stars The Team.
1) Joey Bada$$ B4.DA.$$ LP (Cinematic Music)
2) Wiley Life Is A Game of Snakes & Ladders (Big Dada)
3) 88 Ultra Sirens (Ultra Glacial Recordings)
4) Freez & Mike Fry Freez's Frozen French Freys (Soul Tools)
5) Doomtree All Hands (Doomtree)
Thanks to E-Lit at the Berkeley Amoeba Music store for the latest Top Five Hip-Hop chart above. Below is the accompanying video clip shot this week at the East Bay store with E-Lit running down all these and other new/recent (and reissue) hip-hop releases in both LP and CD formats that are featured at Amoeba Berkeley right when you come in the front door of the Telegraph Ave store on your right hand side. Also down below is the brand new music video from Zion I ("Juggernaut") that was filmed mostly right outside Amoeba Berkeley as well as across the street and round the back (Peoples Park) from Amoeba among some other quick shot locations.
The Bed-Stuy Brooklyn NYC artist born Jo-Vaughn Virginie Scott but widely known as main man of Pro Era, Joey Bada$$, as well as Malia Obama's favorite rapper, continues to sell well at Amoeba with the vinyl version of his official debut (commercial release) new album B4.DA.$$ (Cinematic Music) outselling the CD version of B4.DA.$$. And this week the artist released a new music video for "Like Me" featuring BJ the Chicago Kid that (with the refrain "fuck the police") addresses police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement (see the music video clip down below). Other new chart entries this week include UK hip-hop/grime artist Wiley's Life Is A Game of Snakes & Ladders (that is also available in LP/vinyl format as well as digital download - all care of Big Dada. The others include Doomtree's December 2014 release All Hands (Doomtree) that is also available in vinyl format, 88 Ultra Sirens (Ultra Glacial Recordings), and Freez & Mike Fry's Freez's Frozen French Freys (Soul Tools). For more background on these two releases peep the E-Lit video shot at Amoeba Music this week in which he gives some background on these acts/releases.
Now seven years strong Zion I's annual hip-hop showcase the Hella Fresh Fest takes place this year on Halloween night in the at the Metro with a lineup that continues Zion I's Zumbi and AmpLive's tradition of presenting a rich cross section of contemporary hip-hop talent to join them in concert. In addition to Hella Fresh's tradition of showcasing the best of homegrown hip-hop (Sol, Erk tha Jerk, Bang Data) they've also booked such out of town talent as Rhymesayers' Seattle emcee Grieves, and Funk Volume's Dizzy Wright. Also on the bill will be Triple Threat DJ Vinroc while the Hella Fresh hosts will be Chris Riggins and Panama by way of Oakland duo Los Rakas who performed at Hella Fresh 2011. That Hella Fresh Fest took place at the Fillmore in San Francisco while last year's was at the DNA Lounge. But this year it will be in the place it was meant to be. With the name Hella Fresh it has to be in Oakland so it is perfect that it will be at the Metro in Oakland - and on Halloween night with live art by Haven Arts. Good news for young hip-hop fans is that the show will open those under 21. It is a 14 and over show! Below are a series of videos of the acts on this year's bill along with a highlights of last year's Hella Fresh Fest. Buy tickets here