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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: The Native Tongues

Posted by Billyjam, April 28, 2015 11:45am | Post a Comment
Upon digging in the golden era hip-hop LP crates recently I uncovered an amazing album that I had not listened to in full in some time - the Jungle Brothers' 1988 debut album Straight Out The Jungle on Idlers/Warlock - that reminded me of how, upon its release, that was the record that introduced hip-hop fans like myself to the Native Tongues - as well as to Q-Tip who guested on the album tracks "Black Is Black" and "The Promo."

Centered in New York City and with direct ties to the Universal Zulu Nation, the Native Tongues were not a crew but rather a collective of different crews and acts that came together as a loose knit movement bonded by Afrocentric rooted hip-hop with uplifting lyrics focus on positivity and with a musical / production focus on jazzy grooves and eclectic samples (along with jazz, funk, and soul samples, the aforementioned Jungle Brothers album title track sampled Cameroon, Central Africa artist Manu Dibango). In addition to its leading act The Jungle Brothers (aka the JBs), the Native Tongues also included De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest (its core members), as well as such artists as Queen Latifah, Black Sheep, and Monie Love as among its many members. Other Native Tongue members - albeit to a much lesser and/or later degree of involvement - have said to have included Chi-Ali, Fu-Schnickens, The Beatnuts, Brand Nubian, Leaders of the New School, Common, and Da Bush Babees. However while these hip-hop acts continued for many years - some up until the present - the actual Native Tongues collective slowly disintegrated and became no more by the early nineties - many correctly correlating the demise of Afrocentric hip-hop with that of the Native Tongues movement. 

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Zion I's Zumbi and Locksmith Join Forces For Full-Length Project

Posted by Billyjam, April 27, 2015 03:32pm | Post a Comment

Zion I x Locksmith  "Culture Freedom" (2015)

Two Bay Area hip-hop heavyweights - Zion I's Zumbi and East Bay emcee talent Locksmith who came to fame as one half of The Frontline - have combined forces to record a full-length collaborative project that, when released later this year, will feature the lead single "Culture Freedom" for which, earlier this month, they published the accompanying video above. In it the duo spit memorable verses in footage taken from the wrap-up weeks of their recently completed Rapture tour. "We decided to shoot the 'Culture Freedom' video while on tour because we wanted to capture the energy of just being in the moment and grindin.' I wasn't tripping off of a deep concept, it's more about the way we live than trying to present some glamorized version of ourselves. Plus, we're from the Bay Area, so being in snow just adds an exotic element in our minds," noted Zumbi of the winter-as-backdrop music video. As reported here on the Amoeblog earlier this year AmpLive (Zion's longtime super-gifted producer) and Zumbi (the MC) decided to amicably go their separate ways but that Zumbi would maintain the name Zion I - hence why Zumbi's Locksmith collaborative project is being billed under Zion I.

Hip Hop Rap Up: RIP Wesley Burton, Mac Dre Art Show, Scarface Book, HBK's Azure, Big Mont, Third Sight IV LP + more

Posted by Billyjam, April 24, 2015 11:37am | Post a Comment
This Saturday evening's Mac Dre Art Show - Dre Area at at Charles Place in Downtown Oakland -  merely proves that the late great Vallejo rapper, whose cult status has grown exponetially since his murder eleven years ago, is truly an iconic hip-hop figure everywhere but especially in his native Bay Area. Dre Area features a total of 40 different artists, including Ernest Doty and Yung E, contributing via their art their take on Mac Dre - some of it inspired by Mac Dre's famous photos and album cover imagery. A one-off event happening this Saturday evening only from 5pm to midnight Dre Area (with all Mac Dre music being spun by DJ Dontdoodaat) takes place at Charles Place which is at 347 13th St. Oakland. Cover is $5 and I have a feeling it could get really packed and if so plan on going earlier than later.

Another beloved Bay Area public figure taken from this world and his family way too young is KPFA's Wesley Burton who, among other things at the Berkeley Pacifica station, co-hosted the popular late Friday night music show Sideshow Radio. However after finishing his show and leaving KPFA last Friday night / early Saturday morning while driving home to his family along Martin Luther King Boulevard in Oakland his car was struck a speeding hit-and-run driver that crashed into him causing Burton's car to flip and die at the scene.  A really well loved individual, tributes to him have included a moving one earlier this week hosted by Davey D during KPFA's Hard Knock Radio that is archived here for playback.

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Howard Stern Presents Celebration of The Beatles with The Flaming Lips Hosted by Fred Armisen

Posted by Billyjam, April 22, 2015 01:30pm | Post a Comment

On his SiriusXM radio channel this Friday (April 24) evening Howard Stern will present A Celebration of The Beatles with the Flaming Lips that will be hosted by the Portlandia's Fred Armisen. The session, for which Howard Stern will surrender his SiriusXM radio studios, will feature the Flaming Lips performing songs from their Beatles tribute album; their interpreted version of the Fab Four's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band tribute album entitled With A Little Help From My Fwends (also available in LP/vinyl format). Since the show will run for an hour listeners can expect the Lips to cover some other material too during the session by the unpredictable band. The special will premiere this Friday out of the NYC studios at 11pm (8pm Pacific Time) on Howard Stern's SiriusXM channel Howard 101 heard online. The Flaming Lips album With A Little Help From My Fwends was released back in October 28th via Warner Bros. Records when the band released their own versions of each track off The Beatles' 1967 classic album with an eclectic array of guests including Miley Cyrus, Moby, My Morning Jacket, Dr. Dog, Tegan and Sara, and many more. No mention or official word as to whether any of these contributors will perform on Friday along with the Lips but odds are that at least one of them will have to do so. Finally I leave you with What's In My Bag? video segment from last year featuring the Flaming Lips' drummer Kliph Scurlock as he goes digging in the crates at Amoeba Hollywood.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: The D.O.C.

Posted by Billyjam, April 21, 2015 06:00pm | Post a Comment
A key contributor to both Ruthless and Death Row Records' most significant releases, The D.O.C. is best known for his own landmark 1989 Dr. Dre-produced debut album No One Can Do It Better whose success, due to a tragic accident that destroyed his larynx, he would never be able to replicate. But that album remains a true hip-hop classic. The D.O.C. was born Tracy Curry (aka Tray) in Houston,TX but moved to Dallas where in 1986 he became a member of the hip-hop trio Fila Fresh Crew along with Fresh K and Dr. Rock.  Originally he went by the rap name Dr. T but later switched it to Doc T.  The Fila Fresh Crew relocated to the Compton area of LA where, through Dr Rock's World Class Wreckin Cru era affiliations with Dr. Dre, landed several of the trio's tracks on the 1987 album  N.W.A. and the Posse. This Macola/Ruthless release was essentially a compilation showcasing the talents of extended N.W.A. family (including Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren, Yella, and the Arabian Prince) plus the Fila Fresh Crew whose own poorly-received album, titled "Tuffest Man Alive" - featuring the same songs,  would be released on Macola a year later. Neither that album nor the single from it, "Dunk The Funk" would experience much success and the act soon disintegrated.  By this stage the D.O.C., a skilled battle emcee who displayed a superior lyrical finesse and a knack for writing memorable rhymes, had already moved on to work with the members of N.W.A. In no time he had proved himself an invaluable part of the Ruthless creative team.  In tandem with the young and talented Ice Cube (the main writer) he ghost-wrote a good deal of Eazy-E's 1988 debut album Eazy-Duz-It (the two also guested on the opening prelude track "Still Talkin'" ). Not long afterwards he got busy both ghost-writing for and contributing vocals to N.W.A.'s landmark 1988 Straight Outta Compton album on which he appeared on the track "Parental Discretion Iz Advised."  By this time he had changed his name to "The D.O.C." - apparently abbreviating "Doc" to  D.O.C. as a direct influence of N.W.A.'s use of periods between each abbreviated letter of their name.

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