Amoeba Music San Francisco Top FIve 09:06:08
1) Young Jeezy The Recession (Def Jam)
2) The Game LAX (Geffen/Interscope)
3) eLZhi Preface (Fat Beats)
4) The Jacka & Lee Majors The Gobots (Million Dollar Dream)
5) Arabian Prince Innovative Life: The Anthology: 1984 - 1989 (Stones Throw)
Thanks to Luis in the hip-hop section at Amoeba Music, San Francisco for this week's Top Five chart. The top slot belongs to the brand new release from Young Jeezy, The Recession, which hit Amoeba shelves on Tuesday this week. This is the third Jeezy album, following 2005's Lets Get It: Thug Motivation 101 and 2006's The Inspiration. Although the title The Recession might imply that the record would be all about the US economy (interest rates/foreclosures etc.), it only very, very briefly tackles the US economy at large. Instead, it concentrates more specifically on hood economics, i.e., drug dealing. Hence, The Recession, over some great beats, is brimming with (yawn) street tales of making cash and selling 'caine and the glorified day-to-day trials and tribulations of a gangsta.
"All I got to my name is two bricks and one felony," raps Atlanta native Jeezy in his famous husky voiced, dirty south flow on the track "Crazy World" -- one of many detailing the struggles of the hustler lifestyle which, personally, I find tired and played out at this stage in the game. I mean is Young Jeezy keeping really real and rapping about his life as it really, or is he just trying to sell the most CDs? Does Jeezy really have to slang drugs on the corner after all his success in the rap music biz? Or is he just fronting by making up these played-out, over-romanticized drug dealing tales, geared for the target gullible white rap consumer? This is music manufactured for the wallet more than from the heart. With that said, I did enjoy most of the production, and also the album's few guests, including NaS, who upstaged his host here. I guess it's not so much the topic of gangsta but more in how an artist retells a story we've heard a million times already.
Following 2005's The Documentary and 2006's Doctor's Advocate, The Game dropped his third album last week, the guest-heavy LAX, which features such artists (among many others) as Ice Cube, Raekwon, Ludacris, Bilal, Raheem DeVaughn, and also Hi-Tek and Kayne West, who each lend production skills to the album. Keyshia Cole guests on the lead single "Game's Pain" -- see video below.
Unlike Young Jeezy, I find The Game a much more convincing artist, and hence more enjoyable rapper. Maybe his tales are made up, but he delivers them in a more credible fashion, with lyrics that are engaging and hence, believable. Besides, unlike Jeezy, he makes the listener think by confronting and questioning the hardcore rap listener him/herself with probing lines like "think cause they watched Menace a couple of times, seen Cube in Boyz N the Hood and pressed rewind that you could survive when a real Crip run up on your car and flex the nine" on "L.A.X. Files;" now that's keeping it real-- real thought provoking!
Ever-prolific Bay Area rap artist The Jacka adds another title to his long discography with the just-released collaboration with Lee Majors of the Mob Figaz (aka "Oakland's 6 Million Dollar Man, Scraper King") entitled The Gobots, out on Million Dollar Dream through Sumo, and featuring such tracks as "Game Been Good" and "California" which samples The Eagles' "Hotel California."
Also charting this week at Amoeba San Francisco is Preface, an album that has been also popular at the Hollywood store, by Detroit emcee eLZhi (pronounced Els-Eye), who first made inroads to the hip-hop world a few years back when he joined Slum Village. And speaking of Amoeba Hollywood, longtime LA hip-hop artist/producer the Arabian Prince, who performed a couple of weeks ago at the Sunset Blvd. Amoeba in celebration of his just released Stones Throw retrospective Innovative Life: The Anthology: 1984 - 1989, is selling well also at the Haight Street Amoeba, where the former NWA member's new release is number five on the new hip-hop albums sales chart.