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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Rare 1992 E-40 & The Click Interview

Posted by Billyjam, February 3, 2015 04:14pm | Post a Comment

For this week's hip-hop history installment, rewind back 23 years to 1992 -- a time when E-40 and The Click's careers were on the verge of blowing up majorly. Below is an audio YouTube clip of a KUSF radio interview I conducted at that time with The Click's four members E-40, B-Legit, D-Shot, and Suga T, and with their producer Studio Ton.

It was before they had gone federal (signed to the national label Jive Records), E-40 had just released his solo album entitled Federal, and when The Click as a group had released the album Down and Dirty care of their game-changing little indie label Sick Wid It Records (both later reissued by Jive Records). It was a time when B Legit was still sometimes known as Legitimate B and when D Shot was sometimes still known as Mac D Shot. As for the group's name, it was also something they changed as they had originally been known as MVP. "Now we're The Click. We needed a spicier name," explains E-40 in the interview. "Back in 87…we was doing local stuff. It is really a family thing," said E-40 at the time.

Even back then, the Bay Area rap icon, who these days is known for tirelessly cranking out triple volume albums on an annual basis, was most prolific having recorded both a group album and a solo album simultaneously. "I was putting in work," he said modestly of his impressively busy recording routine back in '92 but again stressing how even with his solo album that it was "a family thing" with his fellow group members (all related) helping out in some capacity. In fact, all of the immediate Click  members as well as the greater Sick Wid It family crew were all very busy back then. Suga T was gearing up to record her debut album, It's All Good, that would drop the following year while extended Sick Wid It crew members Lil Bruce and Rhythm X were all prepping to drop solo joints. And while it was E-40 who would become the best known member of the Click as a group - each of the other three members were talented and historically significant in their own respective rights - Suga T as among the pioneering female rappers of the Bay's history, B-Legit as an incredible wordsmith with a most distinctive flow, and D-Shot was both a strong rapper and among the original wave of Bay Area rap compilation producers (along with Herm Lewis and Master P, who was still living in Richmond in the East Bay). 

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SF Hip-Hop Renaissance Man Friscasso The Jeweler Kicks Off 2015 With Anticipated Album

Posted by Billyjam, February 2, 2015 09:00am | Post a Comment
After diligently been on the grind behind the scenes for the past dozen years multi-talented Bay Area hip-hop renaissance man Friscasso The Jeweler readies to take his place in the spotlight in 2015 with the release of his anticipated brand new, long-awaited, official debut album If You Buyin I'm Sellin (available in the Bay Area Amoeba stores care of Bay Game Records) on which he displays his rap skills alongside an impressive array of guests including The Jacka,  Killa Tay, and Matt Blaque. Among the strong album songs are such standout tracks as "Poed Up," "We Warriors," and the title track which is produced by Nasty Music - one of the numerous producers who contribute to the 14 track full-length (among the many others are J-Moe, SF Traxxx, Beat Goods, and Sean Fong Beats - hence the refreshingly diverse sound to the album).

While Friscasso The Jeweler may be a new name to some rap fans, those truly into Bay Area rap are already familiar with him thanks to his decade-strong history of tirelessly contributing behind the scenes to the vibrant Bay Area hip-hop/rap music world. This the multi-talented individual has done in various capacities: with his talents, in addition to rapper, including that of jeweler, tattooer, clothing designer, and car airbrush artist.  Indeed Friscasso The Jeweler is truly a renaissance man/talented Bay rapper. And it is as rapper that many already know of him via his long list of MC contributions to numerous high-profile rap releases over the past decade that include his contributions to 17 Wit A Thizz.  Meanwhile behind the scenes Friscasso has been applying his myriad of non-mic skills - from tattooing, to T-shirt designing / manufacturing, to custom jewelry making. All of this he has worked on with such SF/Bay rap players as Mac Mall, Black C, Mistah F.A.B., Lee Majors, and Big Rich.  As if making up for lost time Friscasso The Jeweler is unleashing two full-length rap releases (this official debut album plus a second full-length mixtape release) in 2015. These follow such already released popular Friscasso tracks from the past couple of years as "Poe'd Up" featuring The Jacka (included on If You Buying I'm Sellin), and his killer CD single / 49ers rap anthem "Sons Of Harbaugh," that created a buzz with both Niners fans and rap fans.

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Prolific Poet/Songwriter Rod McKeun Leaves Behind Large Body Of Work

Posted by Billyjam, January 30, 2015 07:34am | Post a Comment

In honor of Oakland, CA born American poet/spoken word artist/songwriter Rod McKuen, who died yesterday at age 81 following weeks of been treated for pneumonia, I go digging at Amoeba Music for a sampling of the world's best selling poet's body of work.  Ever prolific, especially from the late sixties up until the beginning of the 80's when he took an extended sabbatical, McKuen was once a ubiquitous and seemingly unstoppable part of American popular culture.

As such the distinctively throaty sounding artist released an incredible number of albums (over 200 LPs of which many are still available at Amoeba - mostly in original vinyl format), wrote hundreds upon hundreds of poems, published dozens of books that would sell over sixty million copies (hence why he was the best selling poet ever), and a slew of songs that would be covered/interpreted by such high profile stars as Dolly Parton (they even collaborated in a music and poetry duo on the song "Feelings"), and Frank Sinatra ("Night," "If You Go Away" which was written with the Belgian composer Jacques Brel). In fact Ole Blue Eyes, who was a major fan of his work, even commissioned McKuen to pen content for A Man Alone: The Words and Music of Rod McKuen.

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Is It A Vinyl Comeback?

Posted by Billyjam, January 29, 2015 02:48pm | Post a Comment

Last week, under the heading What the Vinyl “Comeback” Really Looks Like, the Digital Music News website published an official RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) sourced vinyl sales graph tracing record sales over the past four decades. The piece seemed like a direct attempt to put a halt to those recurring news stories of the past several years that have been ceremoniously heralding vinyl's return to grace and sales. The article seems to join the opinion of many insiders who say that these typical "Return of Records" stories, usually published around Record Store Day, over-hype and overemphasize the so-called vinyl renaissance. Yes, vinyl has made a slight resurgence in general interest as well as sales (especially over the past decade), but these reports often make it seem like vinyl might be making bigger strides in the market than it actually is. 

Hence why, it seems, that Digital Music News (DMN) published the above graph showing the actual figures and percentages of increase in vinyl sales dating all the way back to 1973, the heyday of LP sales, back when the there were no CDs or digital downloads to compete with vinly LPs, EPs, and singles (the only competition being cassettes and 8-tracks). Interestingly no article accompanied the graph, but the comments for the article quickly filled up with varying opinions. Many agreed with the article's overall message but argued such points as the fact that the graph only figured in large scale and major label record releases (ones that are registered via SoundScan) and did not factor in all of the small label and self-released vinyl pressings out there (a lot!) that may not register with the RIAA, and that it was based on new records  -- not including the healthy used record business.

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This Is Black History

Posted by Billyjam, January 28, 2015 02:32pm | Post a Comment



In honor of Black History Month, which is celebrated each February in the US, is the above video from the UK where Black History Month is celebrated in October. Enlightening, uplifting, and brimming with black history facts (including a lot of African American history) in its seven and a half minutes, this video and song loudly celebrate black history with mic performances from Jody McIntyre, Logic, Big Ben, Jaja Soze, bigCAKES, Genesis Elijah, MC D, Cerose, Big Frizzle, Wordplay, Haze, USG, Rodney P,  and (my favorite) Akala with production courtesy of Last Resort.

The track, which was released a few years back by Global Faction, showcases the collective talents of a large group of London rappers who each spit informed lyrics, such as the emcee Wordplay who raps, "I went and picked up a book, took an hour to read through. Learn about a party that’s empowering the people. About Huey P and Bobby Seale, the Panthers. Not the media spin, I’m reading Howard [Bingham]. How they try and discredit these guys’ names. FBI, Cointelpro, the CIA. But I never forget my man dem, bredders like Fred Hampton. Died for the rights of my people, I’d like to thank them."

 

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