"Brothas and sistas...The time is now" read a flyer for the February 1995 African American youth town hall meeting in San Jose that was called in response to rising concern within the community over varying issues (see flyer above). Hosted by Davey D (then of KMEL) the town hall meeting, that included city officials and youth speakers, took place at the South Bay city's Emmanuel Baptist Church. The event also featured Bay Area hip-hop artists E-40, JT The Bigga Figga, and Herm Lewis who were invited as guest speakers. At the time of the event, E-40's single "One Luv" had been out a few weeks. The Vallejo gamespitter's anticipated second solo album, that included the lead single, In a Major Way (Sick WId It/Jive) would drop a few weeks later on March 14th, 1995. The sequel to 1993's Federal, the new E-40 album would also feature such standout tracks as the second single "Sprinkle Me" featuring his sister Suga T, and Bay Area rap posse track "Dusted 'n' Disgusted" with 2Pac, Mac Mall, and Spice 1 all making cameos. Meanwhile, JT The Bigga Figga was winding up the recording of his third album, Dwellin' in tha Labb, which he fully produced, that would be released in October of that year on his Get Low Recordz, Priority Records, and Straight Out Tha Labb Entertainment.
"One of the most important musicians of our time. When we think of John Coltrane,
Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye,
J Dilla will be going down along that history line of greatness!"
- Common (XXL Magazine)
Ten years ago today exactly the world lost hip-hop production genius J Dilla. Also an emcee, the artist was born James Dewitt Yancey and was also known as Jay Dee. He died on February 10th, 2006 at the age of 32 following a battle with lupus. But even on his sickbed he worked on music, a lot of it for the album Donuts (Stones Throw) that was released just three days before his tragic passing. The quote above by Common, who was roomies with Dilla after he moved from Detroit to LA in 2004, is typical of the type of reverence Dilla receives from his peers. Similarly to Common, Madlib also made a Dilla/Coltrane cross reference. "Dilla was like a Coltrane," said MadLib who had collaborated with him as JayLib. "When Coltrane was there, everybody tried to follow what he did. And when he died mothafuckers didn't know what to do," said MadLib in the documentary Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton: This Is Stones Throw Records.
Killer Mike, seen above with the Vermont senator whom he endorsed and has done a series of appearances and interviews with, may be the most visible hip-hop supporter of Democratic presidential runner Bernie Sanders. But the politically and socially conscious Run The Jewels emcee is not alone when it comes to hip-hop (and rock) artists who have shown support for the 74-year-old Vermont senator whose polls routinely show a large following among both young and minority voters. No wonder since Sanders routinely addresses topics that directly effect or at loudly resonate with the members of these oft ignored demographics. These include slashing the escalating high cost of college tuition, demilitarizing police departments across the US, remedying the uneven ratio of young black and Latino men incarcerated, rescheduling weed from a class A drug, and going after the (currently) entitled so-called 1% by making Wall Street accountable for its central role in the 2008 financial crash.
Other hip-hop artists to publicly put support behind Bernie include Berkeley's Lil B (The BasedGod), Stretch Armstrong, and Z-Trip, who 8 years ago had endorsed Barack Obama, doing some speech remixes and teaming up with Shepard Fairey (another Bernie supporter). Scarface of Geto Boys fame believes in Bernie as does fellow Southern rap pioneer Bun B of UGK (RIP Pimp C). The Trill creator told the Miami New Times this week that Sanders gets his endorsement for being transparent. Some note Sanders' track record dating back to his college days when he fought for housing equality in Chicago.
Hip-hop fans in the Bay Area have an opportunity to catch one of contemporary hip-hop's most innovative emcees when Homeboy Sandman stops by Amoeba Berkeley Thursday, February 4th at 4pm. The in-store will be the Queens, NY emcee's first ever visit to the East Bay Amoeba Music store. The always down-to-earth hip-hop-loving emcee who breaks all negative stereotypes of rappers will perform a few songs from his deep back catalog. That set will be followed by an informal meet and greet with fans.
"With hip-hop they think you can only rap about horrible criminality and misogyny, or else rap about how you don't rap about that, when the truth is you can rap about anything. I have always loved making songs about stuff that people haven't made songs about," Homeboy Sandman said in one of his previous Amoeblog interviews. That quote was from an interview the school teacher turned full-time emcee did back in June 2010 around the time he had just released his album The Good Sun on High Water/Fat Beats before he signed with Stones Throw Records. Since signing with Peanut Butter Wolf's famed record label, he's released a string of solo recordings including his Subject: Matter EP, the Hallways LP, and the First of A Living Breed album.
Bay Area Black History Month events in this leap year include the Tech and Soul Food 2016 Black History Month Speaker Series at Impact Hub Oakland. The unique tech-talk-meets-soul-food series takes place over lunch and dinner on Wednesdays catered by Oakland's La Christa's Cafe with a choice of vegan, vegetarian, and meat soul food. The noon to 2pm and 6-8pm programs feature speakers addressing cultural and educational aspects of the modern tech age, all from an African American perspective. Brief talks are followed by a Q&A session. But the main portion of the program is an hour and a half workshop designed to further educate attendees on varied technology topics.
Blacks Online will be the topic discussed by Dawn Elissa Fischer who is a noted professor from San Francisco State University's trailblazing Africana Studies department. Kumi Rauf of I Love Being Black will speak on Online Stores (2/10). Brian Drayton of Oakland Spokes will giving an indepth talk on the innovative ways to utilize crowd sourcing for businesses (2/10). Meanwhile, both Melonie Green (KPOO, Omni Gallery) and "The Uber Rapper" Ashel Seasunz will speak on the topic of Arts and Technology (2/24). Green Technology will be the topic discussed by Ujamaa Villages (2/17). Kicking off the new series tomorrow (2/3) will be Dream Nefra who will speak during both lunch and dinner sessions on the topic of Blacks in Technology History. As well as being a speaker, Dream Nefra is also the organizer of the series that comes under the recently formed Oakland-Berkeley Soul Food Tech meet-up group that is described as a group for people who are "in alliance with the African American community of Oakland, have web development skills to share or be helped on issues in technology" as well as providing soul food.