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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Longtime Oakland MC Naru Kwina (formerly Sir Quick Draw)

Posted by Billyjam, September 2, 2014 08:16pm | Post a Comment
His name may not be as familiar to the average Bay Area rap/hip-hop fan as such fellow Oakland rapping contemporaries of his as Too $hort but longtime East Bay hip-hop emcee talent Naru Kwina, who began his career back in the eighties along with a handful of other local rappers and is still making music to this day, is both a talented artist and an integral part of Bay Area hip-hop history's formative years.

Originally known as Sir Quick Draw, Naru Kwina began his hip-hop career when few others were recording and releasing music in the Bay Area compared to nowadays - and those that did make rap/hip-hop music had a tough time getting their music out there and heard. "I started rapping in 1979, the day I first heard Rappers Delight," he recalled recently. However it would several years later, in 1986, when I first met the artist. He had submitted a demo cassette tape for a Bay Area rap contest I produced on UC Berkeley radio station KALX in the Fall of that year. With a fresh upbeat inspired style and flow on the song he submitted ("Rapaholic") Sir Quick Draw's tape was so good that the judges of the contest (including Davey D Cook) all agreed that he was the best out of all the demo tape submissions. In fact in the months following the radio contest win, into the following year of 1987, the song "Rapaholic" that was recorded with his David K-OS got signed and released by Baywave/Macola Records as a 12" single. Then the year after that, in 1988, he would record another 12 inch single  - this time under the name MC Quick but again along with David K-Os entitled "I Like It Like That" (b side "I'm Just Rollin'").

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Run The Jewels Announce Tour & Tracklist For "RTJ2" On Nas' Mass Appeal Records

Posted by Billyjam, September 2, 2014 01:31pm | Post a Comment

Run The Jewels - the super talented hip-hop power duo of El-P and Killer Mike - has just announced new tour dates along with track listings,  contributing guests, and artwork details for their forthcoming  sophomore release. With cover art almost the same as last year's self-titled debut on Fool's Gold (only in a different color), the new album on Nas' new Mass Appeal Records is  slated for release on October 28th. Aptly titled RTJ2, the album will feature guest spots by Zack de la Rocha, Travis Barker, Diane Coffee, and BOOTS (note this is not Boots Riley of The Coup but BOOTS the sometimes BeyoncĂ© collaborator).

The Run The Jewels has been attracting attention of late for their impressive recent tour sets, including a stop in the Bay Area last month at Outside Lands and the previous month in New York at the Governors Ball. They've also been garnering attention with new audiences care of Killer Mike's recent guest appearance on CNN, speaking out on the grander implications of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson (see video below).

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Album Picks: Half Japanese, Earth, Zammuto

Posted by Billy Gil, September 2, 2014 11:40am | Post a Comment

Half Japanese - Overjoyed (LP, CD, Download)

half japanese overjoyed lpHalf Japanese’s legacy as detuned-guitar weirdos that inspired legions of other important bands is more than solidified at this point. But thankfully, the band has decided to record a new album, their first in 13 years, to go along with their recently announced Neutral Milk Hotel tour. And let’s just say it’s far from a fiasco. Overjoyed is brilliant, teaming with the energy of a band half the age of the Fair brothers. “In its Pull” establishes the band’s core appeal of sing-spoken vocals over a straight-ahead rock beat and guitars that vacillate between Stones riffs and atonal fuckall chords. “Meant to Be That Way” sees the band engaging in squealing, No Wave-style guitar sounds, but they’re pretty reined in, used in the service of creating a potent post-punk groove. “Brave Enough” might be the band’s best pop song yet, full of jangling island guitars, bongo drums and lyrics like “Come on! Let’s do it!” Yet the whole thing is lovably strange, too, a special freak-pop gem that only Half Japanese could produce. That moment of accessibility speaks to how listenable Overjoyed is throughout, even while the band is spitting distorted vitriol into their mics (“Do It Nation”) or singing with only the faintest hint of a melody (“Shining Star”)—these songs are still hooky at their core and a lot of fun to listen to. There’s also a wonderful positive energy to the album that doesn’t feel forced. A song like “Overjoyed and Thankful” might be ironic, but it doesn’t really matter, as its torn-apart rock ‘n’ roll still brings a smile to your face. And “The Time Is Now” is irrepressibly life affirming and musically quite pretty, with shimmering, jazzy guitar lines. “Don’t ever get stuck with that stupid word ‘why’; I never have liked that word,” they sing nakedly on “The Time Is Now.” To borrow a line from the song, the long-awaited Overjoyed puts a few more rainbows in our blue sky.

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Sleater-Kinney to Release 'Start Together' Box Set With All 7 Albums on Vinyl

Posted by Billy Gil, September 2, 2014 11:17am | Post a Comment

sleater-kinneyThe late, great Sleater-Kinney will get the remaster and re-release treatment Oct. 21 when Sub Pop releases all seven of the band’s albums on vinyl in the Start Together box set.

The set will include the band’s self-titled debut (1995), Call the Doctor (1996), Dig Me Out (1997), The Hot Rock (1999), All Hands on the Bad One (2000), One Beat (2002) and The Woods (2005). All seven albums also will be remastered and re-released separately on LP and CD the same day, according to Pitchfork. The remaster work was done by Sterling Sound’s Greg Calbi from the original analog tapes.

It’s a great chance to revisit one of the best and most consistent bands of the past two decades, particularly when all-female or female-fronted bands don’t tend to get venerated through history in the same way that male bands do. That’s especially sad when you consider Sleater-Kinney were better overall than just about every other band out there and that they never got bad—actually, they went out on their highest note, the Dave Fridmann-produced The Woods, which is a classic. Here’s hoping for a reunion too—never got to see this band live!

Hear The Woods’ “Entertain” below, sung by guitarist (and now Wild Flag member and Portlandia co-star/co-creator) Carrie Brownstein:

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CIIS Public Programs & Performances and Amoeba Music Presents Mary Lambert with Young Summer

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, September 1, 2014 05:07pm | Post a Comment

Amoeba Music is proud to sponsor the new season of CIIS Public Programs & Performances concert series, which kicks off with with Seattle-based singer/songwriter/spoken word artist Mary Lambert and special guest Young Summer mary lamberton Saturday, September 27th at the Nourse Theater in San Francisco.

Mary Lambert is good at two things: crying and singing. Nowhere is this better reflected than on her debut EP Letters Don't Talk. The collection of songs, released in 2012, established Mary as a formidable Seattle artist and caught the attention of local hip-hop duo, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, with whom she wrote and sang the same-sex rights anthem "Same Love."

The revolutionary single has allowed Mary's voice to reach millions. She has toured nationally and performed live on The MTV Video Music Awards, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, VH1, and The Colbert Report. "Same Love" has sold over two million copies in the US alone, peaking at number 11 on The Billboard Hot 100. Her recent single, "She Keeps Me Warm," from her new EP, Welcome To The Age Of My Body, received over one million views in its first week and debuted at #2 on the iTunes singer/songwriter chart.

In many ways, Lambert isn't your typical major-label pop artist. Inspired by confessional folk singers as well as spoken-word performers, she is a brutally candid writer who deals directly in her art with such past traumas as being raised in a strict Pentecostal household, abusing drugs and alcohol before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, surviving a gang rape at 17, and being molested repeatedly by her father as a child. "It's important for me to be completely and totally open," Lambert says.

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