2012 Year End Best Of Hip-Hop: Part One

Posted by Billyjam, December 17, 2012 11:00pm | Post a Comment
Catchiest damn hip-hop song of 2012: MaLLy & The Sundance Kid "Shine" from The Last Great….

Another year over, a new begun - well almost - so it is time to look back at 2012 in hip-hop, which in my opinion has been a really incredible year especially in terms of indie releases. I will focus primarily on indie releases in this first of a two-part hip-hop 2012 retrospective. Indeed 2012 was a great year for the genre with a wide and rich variety of hip-hop being made by artists from all over, including some incredibly well-made videos - all done on tight budgets.  Year-end lists are by their very nature subjective and this one is certainly no exception. Like all year end "best of" lists, it is wide open to change and alterations (additions or deletions) at a moment's notice. Odds are I wont even agree with my own picks this time next month since my tastes are constantly changing and since there is just so much good music that I am constantly catching up on.

However with that said if I had to pick one hip-hop song based on pure catchiness of both production and lyrics, a song that grabs me as much today as when I first heard it eight months ago, it would be MaLLy & The Sundance Kid's "Shine" (video above) from their 2012 album The Last Great….

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Hip-Hop Rap-Up: 11.09.12: Paul Wall, Saigon, Lushlife, Hip-Hop & Obama, Too $hort Hip Hop Dance Experience, Genie Does Wu + more

Posted by Billyjam, November 9, 2012 08:43am | Post a Comment
Amoeblog Hip-Hop Rap Up Top Five Chart Week Ending 11:09:12

1) Kendrick Lamar Good Kid M.A.A.D City  (Aftermath)

2) Paul Wall No Sleep Til Houston SMC Recordings

3) P.O.S. We Don't Even Live Here (Rhymesayers)

4) Lupe Fiasco Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1 (Atlantic)

5) MellowHype Numbers (Columbia/3 Ent)

There was a lot of celebration in hip-hop circles this week since the man known to many as "the first hip-hop president" got re-elected on Tuesday. Among those celebrating the loudest was longtime Obama supporter emcee/mogul Jay-Z who had performed at the president's Ohio rally (along with Bruce Springsteen) on the eve of the election. During his set Hova did his ever-popular "99 Problems" song (off 2004's The Black Album) but when he got to the line “I got 99 problems but a bitch ain't one" he replaced the word B word with “Mitt." And when he go the line "I got 99 problems and Mitt ain't one" the packed Democratic audience roared in loud approval. Throughout social networking sites this past week the support for both parties was accelerated to an unprecedented level with hip-hoppers (almost) unanimously showing support for the candidate dubbed "the first hip-hop president" four years when he won the first time. Loose knit Obama supporters included "DJs for Obama" who shared the photo below on social networking sites over the week leading up the election day.

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Philly Hip-Hop Artist Lushlife Releases Powerful New Album; "Plateau Vision" on Western Vinyl

Posted by Billyjam, April 18, 2012 02:51pm | Post a Comment
Thanks to getting an advance copy of Philadelphia hip-hop artist Lushlife's brand new album Plateau Vision, which arrived in Amoeba yesterday in both CD and vinyl formats, I have had the opportunity to really listen repeatedly to it and can confidently predict, only a third of the way into the year, that it will be making my Top Five best-of 2012 list. It's that good! It's also something that the super-talented MC/producer has been working hard on for the past two years: meticulously assembling the richly layered production to deliver a unique hip-hop release that serves up some intelligent, thought-provoking rhymes over a refreshing production backdrop that is accurately described by his label Western Vinyl  (who normally do indie rock, not hip-hop) as such: "Plateau Vision expertly incubates ‘60s psych eccentricities, and gauzy low-fi production techniques with ’96-era hip-hop swagger." Indeed! That was what first grabbed me about the album: how it had this mid nineties NYC hip-hop feel to it but yet was uniquely new forward feeling too.

When I caught up with the self-described "bedroom composer" a few days ago, fresh back from doing shows in Massachusetts and Canada with the likes of Shabazz Palaces, he agreed that his production at times evokes that aforementioned mid-nineties hip-hop feel. "That's a fabric of what I do," he readily agreed but insisted that he shouldn't be pigeonholed as "one of those guys that just rehashes jazzy golden era beats. So when you listen to the record I like to think that it kind of emotes that feeling but that it still has something progressive and new about it. But that nineties stuff is the core of me." Born and raised in New Jersey the 30 year old artist, born Raj Haldar and making beats since high school,  settled in South Philly seven years ago after having, "spent time in London and New York." Compared to those two major (and notably more expensive) metropolitan centers Philly was the perfect fit for him as an artist. "I was able to live and breath there [Philapelphia] and not get caught up in just trying to pay the bills," he said echoing the sentiment of many other artists who've happily settled in the city 90 minutes south (with light traffic) of the Big Apple.
While Lushlife has been making music for several years ("I'd been dabbling in a lot of lo-fi and textural sounds in hip-hop," he said) it was only last year that he began to get really noticed. That was when he released straight-to-cassette mixtape No More Golden Days which, despite it's limited run ("I only pressed 200 copies," he laughed) got noticed by such credible tastemakers as Okayplayer, Stereogum, and the New York Times. That all lead to his record deal and the heralded release this week of his debut album. While Lush ably oversees mic & production duties throughout Plateau Vision, he also invited some other talents on board including Styles P, Shad, Heems of Das Racist, Cities Aviv, and Andrew Cedermark. Standout album tracks include "Magnolia," Gymnopedie 1.2 (ft. Shad)," "Anthem," and "Big Sur." I asked the artist if his song "Big Sur" was written about the beautiful California coastline area south of Monterey? Yes and no, he replied. "It's all like my imagined sense of Big Sur. But I have never been there," he said with a chuckle adding that, "A lot of the sub context of the stuff on Plateau Vision is kind of imagined America that I have never visited."

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