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Hip-Hop Rap-Up: Main Attrakionz Amoeba In-Store, Top 5 Charts, Vince Staples, Billy Woods, Large Pro, Czarface, Apathy, Rob Swift

Posted by Billyjam, July 5, 2015 01:33pm | Post a Comment

Most everything it seems about Main Attrakionz, who played an extremely well received in-store at Amoeba Berkeley this past Tuesday (June 30), is atypical of the image one might have about Oakland rap and what it should sound/look like. For starters the young, longtime North Oakland rap duo comprised of Mondre M.A.N. (Damondre Grice) and Squadda B (Charles Glover) have just released their new album (808s & Dark Grapes III, that the Amoeba show was in support of) on Vapor Records which is the label owned by none other than Neil Young and whose releases to date feature such distinctly non-rap acts as Jonathan Richman and Pegi Young  (Neil Young, an Oakland rap fan! Who would've thunk?). Secondly the Pleasanton based production duo of Friendzone (James Laurence and Dylan Reznick), who produced the entire new album and joined them onstage at Amoeba this week, onstage at Amoeba may not have looked like they would have been paired with these two Oakland rappers - but the collaboration totally works! And thirdly I have never before witnessed an Oakland rap show where the act's former middle school mentor acts as their hype-person and gets on the mic to give a rousing introduction. But such was the case with new Vapor Records' act Main Attrakionz who were introduced by Marian Meadows who has known the pair for half of their lives literally, ever since she mentored them back when they first started seriously rapping at age twelve at North Oakland's Carter Middle School as pre-teens. Her glowing in-depth and informative intro that dated back to day one (literally) of when they started - before they started entering "the middle school talent show circuit" - included her stressing how they put in endless hours of practicing, referencing that old saying about hours of practice needed to master an art, noting that, "You know how they say when you've passed ten thousand hours? Well when you start when you're 12 years old, you've passed that 10,000 hours but are in the hundreds of thousands of hours!" Indeed, as noted in the Amoeblog interview conducted with Main Attrakionz before Tuesday's in-store, the duo have been incredibly prolific. While this new album may only be their second official album they've already released more like 15 albums worth of material. For Tuesday's Amoeba Berkeley concert, that ran about half an hour and got the loudly appreciative in-store crowd hyped, they focused on new album material. 808s & Dark Grapes III is available from Amoeba in CD format with LP vinyl version to follow in the near future. See the full Amoeblog profile/interview on Main Attrakionz here.

The Jackson 5 Post Cereal Alpha Bits Free Flexi Record

Posted by Billyjam, July 1, 2015 01:15pm | Post a Comment

They say when you cut down an old tree, that you can tell how many years old it is by the number of "growth" rings it has in its cut diameter to determine its exact age. Same is kinda true of when you do construction or clearing of an older house, and find relics from the past whose timeline can be traced back. I had this experience this morning while helping a neighbor remove an old metal sheet tightly nailed to her garage window. We figured it had been covering the older building's window for maybe 25 or 30 years. Turns out it was an even longer period than that as confirmed by the half-rotted remains (see pic left) of the 43 year old Jackson 5 flexi disc that had been jammed behind the metal sheet since, most likely, its 1972 release when it came free in, or rather on, a 13 ounce box of Alpha Bits breakfast cereal (see full cereal box folded out above). That was when the Post Cereals company, who manufactured such other popular breakfast cereals as Super Sugar Crisp, and Frosted Rice Krinkles cereal brands, in conjunction with Motown Records released The Jackson 5 flexi record.

The one-sided, five track Jackson 5 disc (that had to be cut out of the back of the cereal box) included the then hugely popular family group's hits  "ABC", "I'll Be There," and "Never Can Say Goodbye" as well as the slightly lesser known but still excellent tracks "Darling Dear," and "Maybe Tomorrow."  Those Jackson 5 flexis, which you can find on eBay (in good to VG condition - not rotted like the one I found today) for about $5 these days, were the most popular for the cereal maker. And while, compared to a regular record, the sound quality and durability (they tended to easily warp and scratch) wasn't so great to the young fans getting them at the time (often the first record they would own) it was all good. Besides it was a free record with a box of cereal that cost approximately 38 cents in 1972. In addition to featuring Michael Jackson's family group as a cut-out flexi record, the cereal maker also hired the group to make a series of 30 second TV commercials for their Alpha Bits cereal.  Below is one of those TV spots featuring the young members of The Jackson 5 in 1972 that note is wrongly ID'ed on the YouTube video as 1974.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Mercury Records '93 & '94 Promo-Only Jeep Tape Compilations

Posted by Billyjam, July 1, 2015 01:13am | Post a Comment


Back in 1993 and 1994 Mercury Records put out promotional-only, cassette compilations featuring most of the hip-hop artists on their label at the time. These various artist tape collections assisted the label in their quest to try and get heard by as wide an audience as possible. Entitled Mercury: Jeep Tape '93 featuring [mixtape master] Ron G and Mercury: Jeep Tape '94 these various artists collections were given out at national music conventions like the Gavin Convention in San Francisco and the New Music Seminar in New York City where they would be included in registrants "swag bags." They'd also be handed out to industry folk, as well as mailed to record stores, radio DJs, and journalists.  

The Jeep Tape cassette collections got their name because jeeps, where people would typically bump mixes like this, were popular with hip-hop fans to ride round in at the time. If you listen to hip-hop from that ere you often will hear references to jeeps such as in the popular 1994 single "Boomin' In Your Jeep" by Kenny Dope feat Screechy Dan that featured A Tribe Called Quest sample that gave the song its refrain, culled from the ATCQ song "Jazz." These Jeep Tape cassette compilations featured artists on their Mercury Records or smaller labels being distributed by them that included Diamond and The Psychotic Neurotics, Ed OG & The Bulldogs, Lighter Shade of Brown, Proper Dos, Ill Featuring Al Skratch, Dougie Dee, and Threat. In addition to regular versions of songs by these artists there were also some remixes included too such as the remix version of Yaggfu Front's "Slappin' Suckas Silly (Remix)." Above and below are the front and back covers of these two-decade old tape compilations that show up at Amoeba from time to time. Also below is the video for one of the tracks included on the 93 Jeep Tape, Diamond and The Psychotic Neurotics' "!! What U Heard" off the classic, five star album Stunts, Blunts, And Hip Hop.

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Main Attrakionz Promise "A Real Celebration" At Their Amoeba Berkeley In-Store (June 30) In Support Of "808s & Dark Grapes III" (Vapor)

Posted by Billyjam, June 29, 2015 05:51pm | Post a Comment

For Main Attrakionz' anticipated Amoeba Berkeley in-store this week (on Tuesday, June 30th at 5pm) in support of their brand new 808s & Dark Grapes III (out that same day on Vapor), the prolific Oakland hip-hop crew's Squadda B promises a most memorable show that will be "a real celebration of everything we've been through since Carter Middle School." North Oakland's Carter Middle school is where the rapper/producer born Charles Glover is referring to. It was there that he first met up with his partner in rhyme, Damondre Grice (aka rapper Mondre M.A.N.). From that point on, at the young age of 12-years-old no less, it has been quite a ride for the inseparable, prolific, pioneering pair.
 
From the get go, the two go-getters tirelessly entered every local talent shows they could find. Over the following years they would win a lot of them too. But more importantly they learned and grew from their experiences that would help pave the way for a career that, for the artists who are only now 24-years-old, has already been quite accomplished. They've recorded a shitload of music (approx 15 full-length projects, although only two albums, including the new one, are commercially available), worked with such artists as Danny Brown and A$AP Rocky, been credited with being among the chief architects in creating the alt rap psychedelic hip-hop sub-genre of "cloud rap," and landed a deal with Neil Young's Vapor Records, to name but a sampling of their accolades to date.
 

  Main Attrakionz "Ain't No Other Way" (Vapor, 2015)


Contemporary DIY Bay Area Show Flyers Continue Basic Design of Earlier Decade

Posted by Billyjam, June 27, 2015 07:55pm | Post a Comment



After grabbing the above sampling of flyers for punk and indie rock music shows in the Bay Area this week, it made me think that it's like 1982 all over again, flyer-wise at least. Back then this basic cut and paste collage style of basic, no-frills, black and white Xerox flyers with ransom note lettering was the most prevalent. The only difference (besides the bands and venues changing) is that back then they were mostly 8" by 10" size flyers whereas the ones above are all quarter page scale - that way you get four times the amount for your buck, plus people are less likely to fold them and not read them again.

The above flyers are for what should be some good shows too including Wednesday (July 1st) at El Rio in SF with Party Force, Lucky Boys, and The White Barons ($7, 21+ Info), and tonight (June 27) at the Stork Club in Oakland with Beast Fiend, TV Static, The Connies, The Wastedeads, and Fuzz Attack. ($5, 21+ Info). The other two flyers include one for new downtown Oakland music bar the Golden Bull on 14th (near Broadway) where this upcoming Friday, July 3rd, five acts are booked including CCR Headcleaner, Ubu Roi, Means End, Sselxes, and Rays ($8, 21+ Info). The other show flyer is for the Knockout on Mission in San Francisco on July 8th when Maximum RnR along with Thrill House present a punk show with Quaaludes, Piss Test, Rays, and Sloppy Kisses. ($7-$10, 21+ Info)

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