Among all the top ten hip-hop albums in 2015 that caught my ear was Tone Tank's late in the year cassette release ONE-OFFs & ONE-UPMANSHIPs via indie Brooklyn label Modern Shark. It's the super-gifted Brooklyn emcee's first release in five years. The wait was worth it for what the longtime NY hop-hop artist considers his first official solo album. Complimenting Tone's unique flow and always engaging storytelling hip-hop style is a well-chosen array of mic and production collaborators. These include Serengeti, Cool Calm Pete, Kool A.D., Edan, Victor Vic, J Howells Werthman, and his longtime production partner Scott Thorough. Other 2015 albums that made my top list included UK poet/emcee Kate Tempest's Bad Place For A Good Time (Big Dada), Knxwledge's Hud Dreems (Stones Throw), and Blackalicious's Imani, Vol. I (Black Mines). Their first album in a decade, it was also released in an instrumental LP version.
Best Hip-Hop Albums of 2015
This week's report will be a run-down of the new and soon to drop new hip-hop starting with Chicago emcee Serengeti's latest album Kenny Dennis III - to arrive in Amoeba next week (November 11th) in both CD and double vinyl formats care of Joyful Noise Recordings - one of about ten different labels that the ever prolific artist has unleashed his 20-plus releases (LPs and some EPs) spanning a busy dozen years dating back to his 2002 debut Dirty Flamingo on F5 Records. Although no longer with Anticon (this time - he'll likely be back again) he's wisely enlisted the production help again of Jel and Odd Nosdam for the album that was produced in Berkeley, CA. I will go into full detail in the coming week with a dedicated Amoeblog on this absolutely incredible, must-get, latest Serengeti release. But in summation briefly for now: it is a brilliant creation that continues the trials and travails of his hilarious "Kenny Dennis" alter ego character with narration help from Anders Holm (known as one third of the hilarious Workaholics collective from Comedy Central) who contributes to about half the album tracks. Below you will find the animated video for the album track "Win Big" that features both Holms and Serengeti in full-on skit/narration mode. Note that to fully enjoy this album you really have to listen to it in its entirety and in its presented sequence. Pick up the new Kenny Dennis III at Amoeba next week.
Rick Ross "Nobody (Explicit) feat. French Montana, Puff Daddy)" (2014)
Amoeba Music Hollywood Hip-Hop Top Five: Week Ending 03:14:14
1) Rick Ross Mastermind (Maybach / Def Jam)
2) ScHoolboy Q Oxymoron (Interscope)
3) The Grouch & Eligh The Tortoise & The Crow (Empire)
4) Kendrick Lamar good kid, m.A.A.d city (Aftermath)
5) Childish Gambino Because the Internet (Glassnote)
Just as last week's number one on the Amoeba Hip-Hop Chart (ScHoolboy Q's Oxymoron) reflected last week’s number one Billboard pop album chart entry so too does this week's number one at Amoeba: Rick Ross’ brand new Mastermind is also the number one seller in the country as per the Billboard Top 200 charts making it Ross’ fifth album to debut at No. 1 nationally. The album features the lead singles "War Ready," "The Devil is a Lie (feat. Jay-Z)," and "Nobody (feat. Diddy and French Montana)" or Puff Daddy as he is ID'ed in the Vevo video version of the single above. The video for the song, which is a homage to Biggie, finds Ross recreated the drive-by shooting attempt on his life a year ago. Other releases on the latest chart include the recurrent entries from Kendrick Lamar (good kid, m.A.A.d city) and Childish Gambino (Because the Internet).
Amoeba Music Berkeley Top Five Week Ending August 10, 2012
1) Rick Ross God Forgives, I Don’t (Def Jam)
While not pulling quite as huge numbers as anticipated, Rick Ross still takes the crown as this week’s hip hop best-seller and ain’t showing any sign of slowing down in sales with God Forgives, I Don't on Def Jam. Rick Ro$$ the boss gets my vote as one of the most requested rappers from Amoeba Berkeley customers, so naturally his new official solo joint is a mover. Features songs with Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, Wale and Drake plus the prime cut beat selections you’ve come to expect from Rozay. The special deluxe edition of album also features bonus jams with Nas and John Legend. As far as mainstream hip hop goes, this album’s loaded so don’t sleep.
2) La Coka Nostra Masters of the Dark Arts (Fat Beats)
Amoeba Berkeley Hip-Hop Top Five Week Ending 08:03:12
Dark Time Sunshine Dark "Never Cry Wolf (feat. Reva DeVito)" (2012)
1) Dark Time Sunshine ANX (Fake Four Inc)
The biggest mover for this week is none other than the new album from rapper Onry Ozzborn and producer Zavala, which gets my vote for best hip hop album of 2012 thus far. The music that these two craft together is something very special, and taps into the edgiest and most provocative elements of the genre in a way that few groups can. Zavala’s beats are like transmissions from a different futuristic dimension where people still bump old school hip hop on occasion, and Onry’s deep vocals fit perfectly in the mix. Features from Aesop Rock, P.O.S, and Busdriver amongst others. Very highly recommended!
The Chicharones "Burn It Down" (2012)
2) The Chicharones Swine Flew (Camobear)
This new album from Josh Martinez and Sleep delivers more of the fun, clever, infectious hip hop you’ve come to expect from these two. These guys have a rep for amazing live shows that landed them a headlining spot on this year’s Warped Tour, and Swine Flew is an album years in the making that balances their bouncy party songs with some serious songwriting. Great hooks, intricate verses and terrific beats from Smoke of Oldominion make this an album worth checking for. Bacon.