Gifted & Prolific San Francisco Hip-Hop Artist Z-Man Both Raps And Paints, Creating All His Own Original Album Art Work

Posted by Billyjam, September 4, 2015 09:09am | Post a Comment

"There was a time when I asked myself should I draw all the album covers?" said Z-Man, quickly answering his own question. "Fuck it man! I'll do all the album covers - and others too! Yeah, it's a lot of work but it is so gratifying,"  grinned the longtime San Francisco hip-hop artist recently in an Amoeblog interview, while referring back to a previous period in his long, colorful, illustrious and richly varied and prolific career as both a painter and a hip-hop artist.

Some multi-talented rappers such as Lord Finesse or J-Live also DJ and produce their own albums but uniquely talented, but Z-Man has the distinction of painting all of his own album cover art too. And he has been doing so since day one when he hand drew the cassette cover art for his old Daly City based hip-hop crew 99th Demention's album release in 1996.

And ever since that premiere release, that will celebrate its 20 year anniversary next year, Z-Man he has been consistently doing both the music and cover art for his albums (and others) with the most recent examples being for 2014's The Opening Act (with Elon on Gurp City) and his brand new Solidarity Records release "Flea Circus" with producer Tahaj Edwards. In the photo on top  up above Z-Man is seen holding up the album cover's original art that he painted, like most of his work, at his cramped but creative Western Addition district San Francisco home studio in the home where he grew up. I recently stopped by Z-Man's home, in the building where he grew up as a child and has seen the area around him become gentrified.

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"Better Call Heller" is the N.W.A "Straight Outta Compton" Biopic Spin-Off Series Just Waiting To Be Made

Posted by Billyjam, September 2, 2015 11:48pm | Post a Comment

Since its release three weeks ago the F. Gary Gray directed N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton has garnered a ton of press and generated newfound interest in not just the subjects of the film but in the whole history of West Coast rap. Everywhere you go over these past days there's some N.W.A related thing unfolding; from Ice Cube and Dr. Dre on the cover of Rolling Stone, to N.W.A getting heavy radio rotation (a quarter century later) on retro/throwback stations such as San Francisco's Q102, to N.W.A themed "Straight Outta Oakland" Oakland Raiders T-shirts (simultaneously bootlegging both the copyrighted logos of the football team and the gangsta rappers) being hawked by the roadside near the Oakland Coliseum this past Sunday when they hosted the Arizona Cardinals.

It is only natural that with all of this interest (read: more profits to be made) that there'll be a sequel movie such as Straight Outta Compton II: The Dr. Dre / Death Row Story. That's just one of many from the film that contained several story arcs that it didn't have time to fully develop in its packed 2 + half hours. In fact knowing Hollywood's love of bankable projects it could easily evolve into a franchise of seemingly never-ending sequels until it fizzles out with the final lackluster installment of Straight Outta Compton XI: Whateva Happened To Yella?

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Herm Lewis's Influential Early '90s SF Rap Compilations on His Black Power Productions Label

Posted by Billyjam, September 1, 2015 04:24pm | Post a Comment

Back in 1993, an unknown in the music business named Herm Lewis would have a major impact on San Francisco Bay Area indie street rap with the release of his pioneering San Francisco rap compilation Herm: Trying to Survive In The Ghetto. Featuring such hometown artists as RBL Posse, I.M.P., JT Tha Bigga Figga, Rappin' 4-Tay, Cold World Hustlers, G.R.P., Young Cellski (aka 2Took), and Fly Nate, the compilation was a virtual blueprint of the SF rap music that defined that period in Bay Area hip-hop history. (Scroll down to see the original "one-sheet" for the local Bay rap record that was produced via Oakland's now defunct Music People and distributed via San Rafael's City Hall Records.)

The San Francisco community activist's compilation was bookended by his positive powerful messages of peace and unity, which garnered a lot of attention and resulted in him being invited to give talks at countless community events. The compilation had a slow but major build selling all over the country and had two major effects. Firstly it introduced audiences in faraway places like Detroit and Kansas to an entire unknown subgenre of hip-hop, one that had been mostly a regional sound 'til then. Secondly, its success kick-started the whole Bay Area rap compilation movement that lasted many years.

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SF Cops Recover Stolen Red Hot Chili Peppers Telecaster

Posted by Billyjam, August 28, 2015 09:59pm | Post a Comment


A valuable instrument with a rich rock music history stolen in a San Francisco burglary just under two weeks ago was recovered by the San Francisco police yesterday, as first reported by local NBC News and SF Gate today. The stolen vintage instrument, a 1966 Fender Telecaster guitar, was played in concerts by the Red Hot Chili Peppers between the years 1988 and 1992, and again between the years 1998 and 2009 when John Frusciante was a guitarist with the band (he initially joined in 1988 to replace then guitarist DeWayne "Blackbird" McKnight of Parliament-Funkadelic fame). Valued at $30K, plainclothes SFPD offices recovered the Fender, which was not in Frusciante's possession at the time of the August 16th robbery in SF's Bayview district. 

Reportedly the former RHCP guitarist had passed along his valuable axe to an associate who was, in turn, to pass it along to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a temporary loaner for an upcoming event. Above, in a video posted a short time ago today by YouTube member "Officer Manfredi," you can see the guitar being returned at the SFPD station. Below is a video of Frusciante playing the guitar at a Chili Peppers concert in Japan in 1990 when he joined Anthony Kiedis, Flea, and Chad Smith live at Club Citta, Kawasaki as part of the Mother's Milk tour.  Among Frusciante's other prized guitars in his collection are a 1962 Fender Stratocaster, a 1955 Gretsch White Falcon, and a custom 1969 Gibson Les Paul.

San Francisco's Light Rail Studios Yard Show Benefit for SFCR + Save KUSF with Record Fair, DJs inc. Irwin, & bands inc. Chantigs

Posted by Billyjam, August 27, 2015 12:51pm | Post a Comment

This week Brian Springer at San Francisco Community Radio (SFCR) - the online radio station that was also known as KUSF In Exile and continues the legacy of beloved Bay Area college radio station KUSF - sent out a mass email to those remaining Bay Area folks who "still remember what community radio meant to SF," encouraging them to come to this weekend's benefit SFCR Yard Show at the Light Rail Studios space where DJs like Irwin (who presents the popular Sleeves on Hearts music show and who was active in the protests that took place back in 2011) have been broadcasting from since getting unceremoniously booted off the USF campus back in  2011.

Saturday's (August 29th) twelve-hour event starts at 10am and will offer non-stop fun and entertainment with a variety of food trucks, a record fair, SFCR  DJs spinning live at the event, and many great bands playing including San Francisco alt music vets Chantigs, whose success was due in large part to the former radio station. The frequency 90.3FM still exists on the dial but nothing else resembling the former great station that was such an integral part of the fabric of the local San Francisco music scene for so many years.

That day KUSF was booted off the air was a traumatic one for people associated with the station and one they will never forget. "We were forced out by the SFPD while on air. This was January 21st, 2011," recalled Brian this week, adding how, "We only languished for about 3 months until Light Rail was chosen as our best venue to make an online stream. The University has asked us to stop using KUSF, basically anything with USF in it.  They did retain the rights to "KUSF" as a brand.   They really only sold the right to transmit on the 90.3 frequency. Upon the onset, we established that we would be SFCR, San Francisco Community Radio, which is the name of our 501c3."  

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