Honoring Hip-Hop Legacy of the late great Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest

Posted by Billyjam, March 23, 2016 08:37am | Post a Comment

"You on point, Phife? All the time Tip! Well then grab the microphone and let your words rip!"
- from "Check The Rhime" classic hip-hop vocal interplay between A Tribe Called Quest's
Q-Tip and the late great Phife Dawg who just died at age 45.

Midnight MaraudersHip-hop fans awoke to some truly tragic news this morning with the announcement of the death of rapper Phife Dawg of renowned hip-hop crew A Tribe Called Quest (ATCQ). According to an early morning post today to DJ Chuck Chillout‘s Twitter feed, consequently confirmed by several other noteworthy sources, the beloved golden era hip-hop artist passed away yesterday at the young age of 45. Although no exact cause of death has been announced so far, the hip-hopper born Malik Taylor reportedly had been battling Type-I diabetes for more than half of his lifetime. In an interview in the excellent 2011 Michael Rapaport directed documentary, Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest, Phife Dawg (aka Phife Diggy, aka The Five-Foot Assassin) addresses his diabetes and dependence on sugar calling it "a sickness" and likening it to "straight-up drugs. I'm just addicted to sugar."  Part of Phife's ongoing battle with the disease included receiving a kidney transplant from his wife eight years ago.

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30+ Years On The Mic And He (Still) Ain't Jokin' "Sir Too $hort Coming Straight From Oakland" With Two Shows This Month @ Fox Theater

Posted by Billyjam, March 21, 2016 07:01pm | Post a Comment

This month Too $hort, the Godfather of Oakland rap/hip-hop, will be playing two concerts at Oakland's Fox Theater at 1807 Telegraph Ave. in the Uptown district. After quickly selling out the original sole scheduled hometown show, taking place this Saturday March 26th, a second Fox Theater date was added at the same venue for next week, Thursday March 31st. Both are 8pm shows. Buy tix here: $39.50 and $49.50 + fees. Both Oakland concerts will feature a live band backing Too $hort, along with opening acts Zion I, The Grouch & Eligh and DJ Fresh

The two Oakland concerts by the consistently active rap artist born Todd Shaw are part of the veteran hip-hop artist's ongoing celebration of thirty years in the rap game. These have included recent concerts in Las Vegas and last week in Austin during SxSW. But of all his recent concert dates across the US, it's $hort's hometown shows that have gotten the overwhelmingly best response. Clearly Too $hort fans in Oakland and the greater Bay Area outnumber fans everywhere else, even in LA where he was born, and currently lives, or Atlanta where he had previously relocated to for a period. In Bay Area hip-hop circles both fans and fellow hip-hop artists, from hardcore rap to conscious hip-hop and turntablism, totally love their Too $hort! They not only love his music but also his rich legacy as a West Coast rap pioneer. That includes his early days primitive but profitable "custom made" tape recordings, and his (and manager Randy Austin's) trailblazing "out the trunk" approach to grassroots distribution. Plus the fact that, in a genre that most artists are lucky to make to ten years in their careers, that he's into his third decade as a relevant hip-hop artist. More importantly he's done it all on his own terms.

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Hip-Hop Rap Up: ODB Reissue, Homeboy Sandman Video, 2016 DMC Battle Season, Shing02 & A1's Jazz Ensemble + more

Posted by Billyjam, March 18, 2016 01:51pm | Post a Comment
Among the new arrivals at Amoeba, including new releases and reissues, is a vinyl repressing of the Ol' Dirty Bastard (ODB) album Return To The 36 Chambers. The 1998 album by the late great (and crazy eccentric) artist born Russell Jones,  who rose to notoriety initially as part of the Wu-Tang Clan, has been lovingly repressed on vinyl by the Get On Down label who've been doing an excellent job at pressing up hard to find hip-hop releases in vinyl format. These include some singles (12" and 7") as well as LPs. They typically do double LP sets (even if it was a single record originally) too so that the sound is as rich as possible and never too compressed. Other classic hip-hop albums that are hard to find on vinyl that they've similarly repressed  Mecca And The Soul Brother by Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth and Special Ed's Youngest In Charge.  Originally released on Elektra in 1995, Return to the 36 Chambers  was ODB's solo debut and proof that he could deliver equally as well outside of his famous group, albeit with much production input from RZA. Amoeba's Paul Glanting's review of the album accurately described the ODB release in which he wrote the following. Kicking off with a hilariously lewd poem about a “lover”, Ol Dirty amplified his dementia and on cuts like "Drunk Game (Sweet Sugar Pie)” where Dirty gives almost equal attention to his arrhythmical singing as he does his hardcore rhymes.  The album yielded two fairly significant singles, "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" and "Brooklyn Zoo", both of which masterfully showcased ODB's dizzy delivery while not to the point of being inaccessible. It is certainly due in large part to these two singles that Return to the 36 Chambers attained Gold status.  Below is the video for "Shimmy Shimmy Ya."

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Kevin Rowland Announces 2016 Album: "Let The Record Show Dexys Do Irish And Country Soul"

Posted by Billyjam, March 17, 2016 08:20pm | Post a Comment
Kevin Rowland strategically chose Saint Patrick's Day to announce his band's upcoming summer 2016 release, Let The Record Show Dexys Do Irish And Country Soul. Formerly known as Dexys Midnight Runners, the current Dexys lineup is an eight-person ensemble with a nucleus consisting of Kevin Rowland, Lucy Morgan and Sean Read.

The new album be the Rowland fronted band's second since they most recently reformed in 2012 and released One Day I'm Going To Soar. That return followed a long extended hiatus of two and a half decades - with some low-key under the radar reunions in the in between years. If the mid '80s lineup of Dexys hadn't broken up, they likely would have recorded this album back in that period. "We had the idea to do this album in 1984 or 1985.  It was to be called Irish and was to feature songs like "Carrickfergus," "Curragh of Kildare," and "Women Of Ireland," recalled Rowland. "Dexys broke up not too long afterwards, so it didn't happen." The twelve track album contains reworkings  / reinterpretations of mostly Irish but some non-Irish songs too. These include "Curragh Of Kildare," "I'll Take You Home Kathleen," "You Wear It Well," "The Town I Loved So Well," and "Both Sides Now."  As if anticipating the complaints of Irish trad purists or others who might expect something other from this new album based on its title, Rowland stressed that, "The album is called Dexys Do Irish and Country Soul, not Become it. We're not trying to be Irish, and we haven't used too many Celtic instruments on there. It's our sound. We're bringing our style to these songs."

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Rewinding Back to 1999 In Bay Area Rap/Hip-Hop

Posted by Billyjam, March 15, 2016 11:31pm | Post a Comment

Today we rewind the clock back seventeen years to late March/ early April 1999 in Bay Area hip-hop. Back then Bay Area indie hip-hop acts with shows and/or new releases included 75 Degrees, Down-N-Dirty, DJ Quest and Mystik Journeymen. Still based out of Oakland, 1999 would also be the year that the Journeymen and their extended Living Legends crew would up and relocate to Southern Cali. 1999 was the year they released their Mercury Rising EP which offered up a nice sampling of their 1999 full-length album The Black Sands ov Eternia which featured such tracks as "The Piano Lesson" (hear below). Having formed a few years previously, the hard working, proudly independent and underground duo had built a rep with their unsigned and hella broke (UHB) lo-fi, gritty, punk rock approach to hip-hop. By the time they split for LA many in the East Bay knew Journeymen members on a first name basis from seeing them hustling their tapes all over, especially on Telegraph Ave. over by UC Berkeley (pictured left) and often right out outside Amoeba Berkeley. Back then the duo now known as Sunspot Jonz and Luckyiam  well known to many as simply Tommy and Corey (or BFAP and PSC). Recent projects associated with the group is the latest Luck & Lana collaborative side project. That's is the EDM/hip-hop musical collaboration of Luckyiam with Lana Shea

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