Posted by Billyjam, May 8, 2008 06:00pm | Post a Comment

As proven by the entries on the new Top Five Hip-Hop Charts from each of the three Amoeba Music locations (Berkeley, SF, Hollywood -- charts below by Tunde, Jason Chavez, & Marques Newson) hip-hop is very much alive and well. 

Not only that, but hip-hop, a genre known for its high turnover and tendency for chewing up and spitting out artists after a short shelf life, is instead demonstrating love for several longtime hip-hoppers with new releases. 

These include Prodigy, who started out rapping with Mobb Deep potna Havoc two long decades ago, The Roots, who've just dropped their ninth album, and E40 who is celebrating twenty years as a rap recording artist and just released the new Sick Wid It Umbrella: The Complete Second Season rap compilation with its appropriate Sopranos styled cover.

The Roots, who just get better and better as time evolves, have just released their ninth album Rising    Down. It's their eight studio album and second for Def Jam, and it's in big demand with music fans. The  Philadelphia based hip-hop band, who tore shit up September '06 at their Amoeba Hollywood instore, is the number one seller at both the LA Amoeba and at Berkeley, while in SF it is a close second to Atmosphere (another longtime hip-hop artist).  Following The Roots' Game Theory album in 2006, the new album culls its title, presumably, from the William T. Vollmann's book Rising Up and Rising Down: Some Thoughts on Violence, Freedom and Urgent Means, published in 2004. Rising Down features numerous cameos and guest shots ,including Mos Def, Styles P, Talib Kweli, and Common.

In 1988, E40, as part of the then-new Vallejo rap family group MVP, an early incarnation of The Click, released his first record: a four-song 12" EP that included the song "The Kings Men Are Out To Get Yah" on Rushforce Records. Twenty years later, E40 is doing better than ever and is now (particularly in his native NorCal turf) a highly respected and ever-popular artist, one who has helped shape the whole sound and style of what is considered Yay Area rap, and the latest release he oversees is no exception. With an eye-catching and clever CD cover, based on another mobb-ish family, Sick Wit It Umbrella Vol. 2: The Machine, finds E40 and his extended Sick Wid It familia dropping more of that Bay Area rap flava with appearances from such artists as Turf Talk, Laroo, Cool Nutz, B-Slimm, and K.D. Stunts. 


1) Atmosphere "When Life Gives You Lemons, You Turn That Shit Into Gold" (Rhymesayers)
2) The Roots "Rising Down" (Def Jam)
3)  Main Source "Breaking Atoms" (reissue Fontana/Universal)
4)  V/A Sick Wit It Umbrella Vol. 2: The Machine (Sic Wit It Entertainment/KOCH)
5)  The Jacka and Berner  "Drought Season" (Bern One Entertainment/City Hall)
(thanks to Jason Chavez @ Amoeba SF for this chart)

Other homegrown rap doing well at Amoeba Music San Francisco includes The Jacka (of the Mob Figaz) and Berner's new album Drought Season, which includes cameos from many major Bay rap playas including Cellski, San Quinn, Dubee, Equipto, Baldhead Rick, and B-Legit. 

Meanwhile Universal, who are reissuing the always-dependable old Wild Pitch back-catalog, have also just reissued the fifteen year old conscious classic The Coup's 1993 Kill My Landlord, which every hip-hop collection should include.  See video below for The Coup's "Not Yet Free" from said album, when the lineup included E-Roc, Pam, and Boots.  Also keep a look out for a reissue of The Coup's Genocide and Juice with slightly modified cover art.  Also just reissued by the same company is the classic Main Source album Breaking Atoms.


1)  The Roots "Rising Down" (Def Jam)
2)  Atmosphere "When Life Gives You Lemons, You Turn That Shit Into Gold" (Rhymesayers)
3)  Gnarls Barkley "The Odd Couple" (Atlantic)
4)  Lyrics Born "Everywhere At Once" (Quannum)
5) The Coup "Kill My Landlord" (reissue by Universal)
(thanks to Tunde @ Amoeba Berkeley for this chart)

New releases charting at Amoeba Music Hollywood this week include Prodigy of Mobb Deep fame, who delivers his long awaited sequel to H.N.I.C. H.N.I.C. Part 2 features production from Havoc, Alchemist, Steve Sola and more.

According to Marques Newson, the new CD from C.R.A.C. is very popular in LA this week. Pronounced crass, C.R.A.C. is an acronym for Collect Respect Anna Check and is composed of the combined musical minds of emcee Blu and producer/emcee Ta'Raach. C.R.A.C. reportedly is  "a name and idealism representing the movement of like-minded musicians, artists, and producers for a structural change in previous stratifications of power and belief systems."


1)  The Roots "Rising Down" (Def Jam)
2)  Atmosphere "When Life Gives You Lemons, You Turn That Shit Into Gold" (Rhymesayers)
3)  C.R.A.C.  "The Piece Talks" (Tres Records)
4) Gnarls Barkley "The Odd Couple" (Atlantic)
5)  Prodigy "H.N.I.C. Part 2" (AAO Music)
(thanks to Marques Newson @ Amoeba Hollywood for this chart)

Everyone knows that a true artist suffers for his/her art, and SF based Romanowski (born Roman Weingartner) is no exception, as outlined in the DJ/producer & visual artist's witty plea to urge folks to attend his art opening at Upper Playground (near Amoeba SF) tonight (Thursday May 8th).

According to Romanowski, preparing for this show took its toll.  In his invite he writes that he "spent the last two and a half months working on my new art for the the Upper Playground Gallery. I cut myself nine times, caught six metal and five wood splinters, pinched my hand seven times, jabbed them two times, burned twice, inhaled two pounds of saw dust, huffed lots of fumes and vapors."  Today's opening, from 7PM to 9PM, with his piece above, will also feature the art of Brian Barneclo and Sean Somers and will remain on display @ Upper Playground for a month.

In a few weeks Illegal Art will be releasing a nicely packaged 2CD Steinski career-long collection titled  Steinski: What Does It All Mean? 1983-2006 Retrospective. As well as including the three legendary "Lessons" with Double Dee, it also includes many of his solo outings and remixes -- all available before but never together on the one comprehensive collection before this time. The second CD in the set is his full Nothing To Fear mix made for BBC London's Solid Steel from a few years ago. Check back here in a few weeks for the Amoeblog interview with the hip-hop cut and paste pioneer.

Finally, props to Jay Z, who recently set up a trust fund for the kids of Sean Bell, the slain African American New Yorker who was gunned down and killed in a hail of 50 bullets by the NYPD in the early morning hours of the day he was to have his wedding. Yesterday, Weds May 7th, in New York there were a series of well-organized public protests led by Rev Al Sharpton and Bell's fiancee Nicole Paultre Bell -- both of whom were among the 216 people arrested by the NYPD (on charges of blocking traffic) at yesterday's peaceful & orderly, citywide coordinated protests.

 And be sure to check back here tomorrow (Friday, May 9th) when I will present a special 1988-themed Amoeblog, one of several blogs on the topic being simultaneously posted across the blogosphere. 

Relevant Tags

Jay Z (7), Sean Bell (1), Berner (8), The Jacka (16), Upper Playground (2), Romanowski (1), The Coup (26), The Roots (28), E40 (15), Steinski (8)