billy woods, Who Plays Amoeba Berkeley Today @ 2pm, Typifies Current Wave of Underexposed High Caliber Hip-Hop

Posted by Billyjam, June 24, 2017 08:40am | Post a Comment

I've said it before but it bears repeating, especially in the case of underground Brooklyn, NY based hip-hop artist billy woods who plays Amoeba Berkeley at 2pm today in support of his brand new album Known Unknowns. Far too frequently the most amazingly talented hip-hop artists of today are the ones we hear the least about. Which is why so many longtime fans of the genre are constantly heard moaning about how "hip-hop sucks these days with nothing but auto-tuned mumble rappers cranking out lyrically shallow, hook driven rap that's presented as hip-hop and is just crap rap. Not like in my day." Wrong! But correct if you only go on the stuff that you hear on the commercial radio, or that makes the Grammys, or that pops up on your (sponsored) social media feeds. Just dig a little deeper and in 2017 you'll discover more quality hip-hop been made than in any previous time in the development of the Bronx born street art. These under the radar producers and emcees and DJs, who are content to craft quality music and not concerned with chasing commercial acceptance, truly transcend that unfair (but understandable) stereotype of modern day rap all being crap.

In contrast to past decades when hip-hop was divided into mainstream and underground but fell under the one big umbrella with underground artists typically striving toward getting more exposure and going mainstream, I view the today's hip-hop music model as more like two parallel universes co-existing.  In hip-hop version 2017 we have one universe in which the overexposed, money making, crossover-pop sounding music: the one that gets the music a bad rep. But then we have this other parallel universe of underexposed, kick-ass new hip-hop by skilled artists who have no intention or desire of becoming pop. It is hip-hop for the love of the art form.  Digital sales, network TV soundtrack placement, YouTube hits, Twitter followers etc. etc. be damned. Hence it's hard to find. But fortunately a musical oasis like Amoeba Music exists where this high quality, under-the-radar hip-hop like billy woods, with typically small runs of records or CDs pressed up, can be found.  And thanks to longtime hip-hop buyer at Amoeba Berkeley  E-Lit, who has long been an avid advocate of billy woods' music, has gotten his releases onto the shelves of the Telegraph Ave. record store for delighted diehard hip-hop fans.

billy woods "Groundhogs Day" (2017) from Known Unknowns

Two years ago E-Lit, who is also a popular KALX DJ, went out of his way to ensure that Amoeba got copies of the limited run vinyl of billy woods' last album, the deep engaging experimental, self-released on his indie Backwoodz label Today, I Wrote Nothing . A couple of years before, when woods' album Dour Candy dropped, he got that into Amoeba too. That 2013 album was produced by fellow BK based producer Blockhead with whom woods rejoins for this highly recommended new album, Known Unknowns, as well as bringing in some other production talent: namely his old pal Aesop Rock. The Definitive Jux legend, whose last solo album was last year's critically acclaimed Rhymesayers release The Impossible Kid  (also on vinyl/LP), not only provides beats for a couple tracks on the new woods album but also blesses the mic on one of the album's standout songs "Wonderful" that also features a verse from the always amazing wordsmith/Stones Throw artist Homeboy Sandman.

Known Unknown's other select contributors include DJ Mo Niklz along with vocalist Barrie McLain ("Robespierre" & "Strawman"),  Googie ("Strawman"), and  ELUCID of Armand Hammer ("Nomento" & "Tupac Jackets") who's released music on Backwoodz. Other standout tracks on an album brimming with great ones that feature woods only include "Groundhogs Day" and  "Washington Redskins." 

At today's Amoeba Berkeley in-store copies of limited run CD (with 20 page lyrics book) and the gatefold jacket 2LP album, each in different colored vinyl Known Unknowns will be available for sale (and signing by the artist) who will be joined on stage at 2pm by PremRock & Fresh Kils, and Henry Canyon. These artists will also be with him at tonight's concert at the Brick & Mortar in San Francisco (9pm, 18+ more info).  More Amoeba Berkeley instore info.

billy woods - 'Wonderful (feat. Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman)" (2017) from Known Unknowns

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Hip-hop 2017 (1), Brick & Mortar (3), Backwoodz (1), Billy Woods (4), Homeboy Sandman (40), Aesop Rock (19), Blockhead (5), Amoeba Berkeley (98), E-lit (45), Kalx (20)