After having the plug pulled prematurely on the concert he was a part of last Saturday at the Bayou Boogaloo & Cajun Food Festival in Norfolk VA where authorities charged him with "abusive language" (apparently for uttering the lyrics "What the fuck" during one of his songs), Boots Riley of The Coup has issued a statement saying that the local authorities' charges against him are "racially motivated."
The obscure local Virginia law, on the books as # 18.2-416, has never before now been applied to a performer, nor has it been enforced against anyone in over 25 years. But yet the city of Norfok is determined in pressing forward with the charges against the visiting Oakland emcee.
"City Officials claim that they are making the statement that profanity will not be tolerated," said Boots Riley in a prepared statement sent out yesterday by his label. "Obviously, since no one has been charged with this in 26 years, profanity IS tolerated. The statement they are making is that the culture and the people they feel I represent won't be tolerated. I was already off stage; the man they asked to leave the stage was Trombone Shorty, another Black man who looks nothing like me."
"This happened at 10PM, and it was far from a 'family' atmosphere, most of the audience was intoxicated after drinking at the festival's bar -- 'The Missing Kidney.' There was also a VIP section where free alcohol was distributed by the keg. Anyone who has been to a music festival on a Saturday night understands the scene. I did not leave the park afterward, as was claimed by FestEvents, the organizers of the Bayou Boogaloo Festival. I stayed and debated the validity of the charge with police and festival promoters. It is clear that this is part of a larger debate that has nothing to do with profanity, one that is being dealt with nationwide. That debate is about racism, gentrification and the ownership of public space."
A visit to Amoeba Music Berkeley yesterday, where I went digging in the "new releases" section (CD and vinyl), offered a nice taste of the wide variety of hot new hip-hop releases dropping lately, including The Jacka's Slappin In The Trunk Vol. 5, Little Brother's ...and justus for all, Atmosphere's Sad Clown -- the 5-song EP (with 12" vinyl and CD versions) off the new album, and Invincible's full-length debut Shapeshifters.
Invincible is one talented female emcee from Detroit who I bet we will be hearing a lot more of by the end of the summer, after word on this great new album, which features guest spots from many of her hometown's underground hip-hop talents, spreads among fans of quality hip-hop. Below is a video clip of the emcee leading a class at Oakland Unity High School last October on a visit out to the Bay Area.
New hip-hop albums released just this week include Digi Snacks by RZA, aka Bobby Digital, on which the Wu Tang Clan member is joined by a variety of collaborators including fellow Wu warrior Inspectah Deck, The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ John Frusciante, Shavo Odadjian of System of a Down and Dhani (son of George) Harrison. The new album comes in two slightly different cover art versions. Also hitting Amoeba's new release shelves this past Tuesday was The 3rd World from the always refreshingly outspoken Harlem, NY emcee Immortal Technique, whose much anticipated (and not disappointing), politically charged new album features a slew of great songs that should be played on so-called "hip-hop" (commercial) radio but likely never will be even though the production (c/o Green Lantern and others) is so radio-ready.
Too bad, as this articulate and informed lyricist touches on topics not addressed often enough in mainstream hip-hop today. For example on "Reverse Pimpology" he addresses the theory of government sanctioned drug companies "selling AIDS medicine when you know you got the cure" while on the song "Payback" -- over a misleadingly sweet female vocal-anchored track that superficially makes it sound like a harmless love song -- the artist and guest emcee Ras Kass lash out at everyone from BIll O'Reilly to Dubya ("a message to the outgoing president....why don't you kill yourself") as well as addressing such issues as New York's draconian Rockefeller (drug) Laws. For more insights, check the Amoeblog interview with Immortal Technique from a couple of days ago.
As the genre settles into its fourth decade, the frequency with which books on hip-hop are being published has greatly accelerated in recent years, so much so that you could fill several book cabinets with books exclusively on hip-hop.
Recent publications to add to these bookshelves include the analytical All About the Beat: Why Hip-Hop Can't Save Black America (Gotham Books) by black conservative intellectual John McWhorter, and the autobiography The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash: My Life, My Beats -- A Memoir (Broadway), which the legendary pioneering turntablist co-authored with David RItz.
There is also the book Somebody Scream: Rap Music's Rise To Prominence in the Aftershock of Black Power (Faber and Faber) by Marcus Reeves, which Bay Area hip-hop author Jeff Chang (Can't Stop, Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation -- another really great book!) calls "a deeply imagined, finely balanced, and richly detailed narrative of our nation's complicated, contradictory, often explosive post-black power journey." Check this space in the coming week for the Amoeblog interview with the author Reeves.
Above is the "final" version (updated earlier this week) of the video for "Scraper Bike" by Oakland's Trunk Boiz, who have been getting a lot of attention lately with their video getting half a million hits on YouTube and recent features in both the Bay Guardian and the East Bay Express.
HIP-HOP QUOTABLE OF THE WEEK:
"I'll brainwash you like Bush.
I'll have you stuck like good kush"
by OC from the second album version of "Conquer Mentality" by Presto featuring Large Professor, Sadat X, & OC from Culver City, CA hip-hop producer Presto's great new album State of the Art on Concrete Grooves.
DJ Quest, who in April held his Questolous record release party at Amoeba SF, will be doing two shows this coming week with his band Quest Quartz Crew -- consisting of Oaty Love (turntables) and Dawgisht (Amiga & Powerbook with Live). Tomorrow (June 29) at 3PM they will perform live on KZSU 90.1FM (check out video above of another recent performance on the Stanford station with Luke Sick on board) and on Wednesday (July 2nd) at 9PM they'll throw down at Hump Night at the Elbo Room in SF where they will be joined by J tha Mastermind (bass), with Mat-Oner (video generated visuals) and live painting by Crystal Davis and Suzie Ferras. Also on the bill: DJ Ladyfingaz and Roy Two Thousand. Tickets are $5 day of show.
EFeezy for freezy? Fo' sheezy! Yes, yes, y'all, E40 will play a free show in San Francisco on Monday (June 30) at 7PM at the Apple store @ 1 Stockton & Ellis (just up from Market St.). But based on the large amount of fans the longtime Yay Area rap star has and the (relatively) few seats the Apple store has in their upstairs performance space, (not to mention it is free and an all ages event) my recommendation is get there hella early -- bring a book to read, or better still, grab an open computer to jump on and kill time by catching up on your emails.
Producers will go head to head in Beet Battle Thursday (July 3) at 9PM at Element Lounge in SF, with a chance to win prizes when judges Friendly Traveler and Skylar G pick the best man/woman for the beat.
And on the spray can tip: there will be a graffiti artist contest titled Urban Expressions at the Oakland Museum of California tomorrow, Sunday (June 29), from noon to 5PM. That same location will hold Old School -- a B-Boys, B-Girls, and turf dancers competition on July 11th at 9PM, part of the East Bay Express' Best of The East Bay party -- that Amoeba Music will be a part of. To enter the dance contest contact ASAP: firstname.lastname@example.org.
And finally two videos on how vinyl records are made.