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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Public Enemy's "It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back"

Posted by Billyjam, February 24, 2015 02:01pm | Post a Comment
public enemy it takes a nation of millions to hold us backBack in April 1988 Public Enemy (PE) released the classic album It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back on Def Jam Recordings. And prove that it's a classic is the fact that  27 full years later Nation still packs the same punch it did when it was initially unleashed on the world back in the late eighties. Widely considered the Strong Island (aka Long Island, New York) crew's greatest work ever, It Takes A Nation... was not only one of PE's finest moments, but hip-hop's as well. Released during the much lamented "golden" era of hip-hop, the album, which was the follow up to PE's 1987 debut Yo! Bum Rush the Show, defied the stereotypical "sophomore slump" that so many artists suffered from.

PE's debut was an excellent hip-hop album but this sequel simply blew it away since it was a jaw-droppingly amazing album (of any genre) in every way. Production-wise, it was so richly layered and hardcore that it just grabbed you and didn't let go. Chuck D's militant and thought-provoking, in-your-face revolutionary lyrical flow was so powerful it scared some people. But mostly it won over new fans who still thought of rap as some fad or disposable urban pop. Combined, all the elements of Nation made up an album that was unlike anything heard in hip-hop, or any music, up to that point. I remember that summer of '88 in the Bay Area hearing it blasting everywhere I went in every type of neighborhood. I had never experienced that before!

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Today KPOO Set Up Their Signal To Broadcast Live From Amoeba San Francisco

Posted by Billyjam, February 21, 2015 02:00pm | Post a Comment
Today at Amoeba San Francisco will be three of KPOO FM radio's DJs doing live sets as part of a unique remote broadcast of the beloved longtime independent, community San Francisco radio station out of the Haight Street store. These DJs, each presenting totally different musical styles, will be DJ X1DJ Jose Ruiz, and DJ McSchmormac - the latter whose show is described as one in which he explores the "origins of recorded music with recordings from 1900 to 1950."  It's just one example of the non-stop schedule of excellent programming on KPOO. I caught up with one of the three KPOO DJs at Amoeba today's in-store remote broadcast DJ McSchmormac (host of popular weekly radio show Gramaphoney Baloney that airs Monday 4pm to 6pm)  as to what we can expect from today's Amoeba in-store? "An unpredictable intercontinental multi-genre  mix of recordings dating from 1950 or earlier," is what the DJ of pre-digital/pre-vinyl older formats said we can expect during his unique set today.


DJ McSchmormac 's Top 3 Favorite Recordings of all time
  
1: Powerhouse - Raymond Scott Quintette
 
2: Dance Of The Octopus/In A Mist - Red Norvo Quartet
 
3: Dark Was The Night - Blind WIllie Johnson

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Hip-Hop Rap-Up: Mainstream News Continues Tradition of One-Sided Reporting + more

Posted by Billyjam, February 20, 2015 10:50am | Post a Comment

This has been one of those weeks when hip-hop news and mainstream news have repeatedly overlapped and melded together with stories on Vanilla Ice, Nicki Minaj, Afroman, and the state of hip-hop today as seen through the eyes of Geraldo Rivera all made front-page news - albeit all in a sensationalist way as per the course of mainstream news' reporting on the genre. The difference between now and say 1989 or 1992 when stereotypical "Violence At Rap Show" styled TV and newspaper headlines were the norm is that nowadays mainstream news reports tend to call it "hip-hop" rather than "rap" and that they (correctly) assume that the general public knows the names of the artists they are reporting on. Mind you, in terms of delving deep into said artist's music beyond a mere mention of their biggest pop hits, nothing has really advanced much in lazy mainstream reporting (editorializing?) on hip-hop in which the music typically is judged on negative generalizations.

Mainstream reporting and editorializing on hip-hop tends to be based on the music and behavior of the most visible pop-rap artists of the day - rather than a realistic look at the rich, varied, and incredibly diverse genre that is hip-hop in 2015. This lazy type of journalism, that paints a picture of everything about hip-hop falling under its most negative stereotype of being nothing but a soulless music filled with nothing but shallow imagery of misogyny and violence and debauchery, was most evident with Geraldo Rivera speaking to HuffPostLive this week when Rivera shared this insightful gem of his: "Hip-hop has done more damage to black and brown people than racism in the past ten years" due to, in his eyes, it been "very destructive culturally" and blaming the music of hip-hop for young fans/followers of the genre wearing "pants around their ass" and sporting "tattoos" and being ready for only "entry level jobs" when they actually go look for work. Say what! Of course coming from someone at FOX News (a place where the blame for police violence against minorities is placed on the victims) this biased, narrow-minded point of view should not be a surprise.   

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Skratch Fight Inspires Bay Area Turntablists

Posted by Billyjam, February 18, 2015 01:27pm | Post a Comment

Like so many positive uplifting music events in the Bay Area that tend to fly under the radar and get little notice or props for all they contribute to the greater Bay Area music/arts community, the ongoing DJ session and battle gathering known as Skratch Fight is among the most admirable. An informal yet tight-knit community of dedicated skratch DJ and aspiring DJs, Skratch Fight is an ongoing series of turntablist sessions and/or DJ battles that take place on a monthly basis (typically twice a month) around the Bay Area including every last Sunday at the War Memorial building in Daly City where the next Skratch Fight will take place this weekend. Another location where Skratch Fight takes place is at the Michael Chavez Center in Concord CA where I stopped by on a recent (January 25th) Sunday afternoon during one of the Skratch Fight live DJ sessions (as distinct from their battle/fights). There I met with the main Skratch Fight founder/organizer/DJ who goes by the name Dulodulo, as well as Concord Skratch Fight organizer (and member of 925 Hip-Hop) Benny Contreras who both chatted with the Amoeblog (see video interview below) to break down the history of Skratch Fight as well as its positive impact. Those in attendance that day included DJ Me One, DJ Universe, Nicholas Joeseph Abigana, DJ Sick Nick (GPK - garbagepailkid), S.T.A.T.I.K., DJ MaseTheTablist, Ichy the Killer, Kurteek, Six Kutter, DJ ALF, and Chuck Martinez.  All were clearly into the ongoing informal skratch session which, as well as a musical outlet for turntablists, is a grassroots networking/meet-up; the type of event that inspires longtime DJs and aspiring DJs alike. It is also a potluck (everyone brings a dish of food to share) and an informal record swap meet with several DJs bringing extra copies of battle records and old VHS tapes to share or trade with their fellow skratch enthusiasts.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Remembering Producer Paul C McKasty

Posted by Billyjam, February 17, 2015 09:30pm | Post a Comment
For this week's Hip-Hop History installment we pay tribute to one of hip-hop's greatest (albeit little known and way under-appreciated) producers; Paul C McKasty or Paul C as he was professionally known. Hailing from the Rosedale area of Queens, New York City, Paul produced the likes of the Ultramagnetic MC's, Eric B & Rakim, Stezo, Biz Markie, Main Source, Too Poetic, and Mikey D & The LA Posse to name but a small fraction of those he worked in the studio with. It was care of these and dozens upon dozens of other records where hip-hop fanatics, who closely read the credits on 12" record labels and LP and single's back covers, learned of this influential figure who gets little love in the big scheme of things (as well as not always getting credited on all the records he produced and worked on) when it comes to honoring hip-hop history's past back in the 1980's. However within hip-hop circles comprised of crate diggers and diehard appreciators of the art Paul C, a producer whose accolades include being a mentor to a young Large Professor, is a major figure of great importance; an artist of legendary status who was a highly influential producer - an unassuming Caucasian dude who is highly revered for the work - as both engineer and producer - in his all too short but prolific lifetime. Paul C's life came to shocking premature halt when in 1989, at the young age of 24, he was shot and killed in an unsolved murder. In his prolific lifetime the long list of records that Paul C worked on, including the ones he engineered as well as exclusively produced, would fill several pages so rather than list them all here, instead I've included below the excellent, albeit low budget, Pritt Kalsi directed Memories of Paul C McKasty documentary that cross-references many of the records Paul worked on and features in-depth interviews with several key hip-hop figures, including Rakim, whose lives he touched in his short lifetime.

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