Amoeblog

New York State of Mind Amoeblog #60: Holidays in The Big Apple

Posted by Billyjam, December 18, 2013 10:06am | Post a Comment
Being such a popular tourist destination, especially at this time of the year with hotels booked to capacity and airbnb reservations close behind, not surprisingly New York City goes all out for the holiday season with extravagant Christmas / holiday displays and  exhibits all around town where it's been snowing a lot this past week - something that only enhances that December holiday vibe.

Festive destinations for tourists and New Yorkers alike include  Rockefeller Center (photo left taken earlier this week) where in addition to the usual all year round attractions, such as going up to the Top Of The Rock (one of the best aerial views of the Big Apple), there is the big brightly lit Christmas / holiday tree and the Center's famous ice rink plus a tapestry of large scale colorful holiday statues and lights for the one square block around the Center.

Being that NBC's main television studios are right there at 30 Rock, in addition to earlier this month broadcasting the lighting of the tree ceremony accompanied by performances from such musical guests as Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, and the Goo Goo Dolls, the TV network has been featuring the hella holiday themed area over the past couple of weeks on such NBC shows as Saturday Night Live and the Today Show. Very closeby Rockefeller Center is the big Saks Fifth Avenue department store where, in addition to their extravagant holiday themed window displays, they also have a  large scale 3D light show, complete with booming music system blasting "Carol Of The Bells," that plays in repeat mode on the front of the block long Fifth Avenue building between 48th and 49th streets every night between 5pm to 10pm for the duration of this holiday season (scroll down to see video of this nightly display).

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Public Enemy's Chuck D on Politics, Hip-Hop & more - from a November 1992 Perspective

Posted by Billyjam, December 17, 2013 07:07am | Post a Comment

For this week's Hip-Hop History Amoeblog, I take it back to 21 years ago to early November of 1992 when I caught up with Chuck D of Public Enemy (PE) to chat with him on the state of politics. Since that interview (which I just uncovered again this past week) was never archived anywhere, I decided to share it here because its content is pretty engaging from a historical point of view. I also assembled a series of Public Enemy videos from their six-year career up to that point.  November 1992 was a time when the politically charged hip-hop crew was still riding high in popularity and public consciousness.

Tragically, even hip-hop heads don't realize that PE are still together as a group these days, touring, recording, and making meaningful statements. But back then, everyone knew and intently listened to what the group, -- whose previous year's album Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black, was still selling briskly and whose compilation of remixes and new tracks, Greatest Misses, had just been released seven weeks earlier -- had to say. Of course things would soon shift on the popular hip-hop landscape since, just a month later in mid December of 1992, former N.W.A. member Dr. Dre would release a game-changing album - The Chronic with the Snoop Doggy Dogg featured lead single "Nuthin' But A G Thang" - that would be highly instrumental in helping push popular rap away from the political arena and towards the gangsta/G-Funk/mob style of rap as the predominant force in popular hip-hop.

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Live Concerts From Prisons and Mental Institutions

Posted by Billyjam, December 16, 2013 08:08am | Post a Comment

The Cramps Live at Napa State Mental Hospital(1978)

In Bay Area rap history there are several instances of artists rapping live from jail - perhaps most notably the late great Mac Dre rapping over the phone from Fresno County Jail back in the early nineties and X-Raided at that same period rapping over the phone on series of occasions that would finally be released as the 1995 album Xorcist (in later years the still incarcerated rapper would get smuggled in recording gear to record albums). But there are also many instances of artists performing for inmates at jails and prisons, as well as other institutions.

Of the performances in mental institutions perhaps the best (and the best known) is from when The Cramps, in June 1978, did a live show from the California Mental State Hospital in Napa. Also performing were San Francisco's wonderful post punk act The Mutants. It was when the pioneering psychobilly gods had just had just finished up recording Gravest Hits - to be released the following year that would include the track "The Way I Walk" that they are captured performing in the Napa hospital concert clip above care of Target Video.

The great Leonard Cohen also did a series of free concerts about forty years ago in mental institutions but without much media attention at the time. According to Sylvie Simmons' bio I'm Your Man Cohen performed, like the Cramps, at Napa State Hospital as well as at Henderson Hospital (in the UK), and at an unnamed facility in Montreal (Canada). Reportedly he booked these shows "without fanfare" and on his own dime, reportedly telling a reporter a few years later that he was drawn to mental hospitals because he had "the feeling that the experience of a lot of people in mental hospitals would especially qualify them to be a receptive audience for my work." Cohen later commented, according to Simmons, that “I’ve always loved the people the world used to call mad.”

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Hip-Hop Rap-Up, Week End 12.13.13: Eminem, Tanya Morgan, A-Plus & AAGEE, Public Enemy, Amoeba 15% Off Sale, + more

Posted by Billyjam, December 13, 2013 08:08am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music Hollywood Hip-Hop Chart Week Ending 12:13:13
 


1) Eminem The Marshall Mathers LP2 (Interscope)

2) Dom Kennedy Get Home Safely (The Other Peoples Money Co.)

3) Drake Nothing Was The Same (Cash Money)

4) Danny Brown Old (Fools Gold)

5) Deltron 3030 Event II (Bulk Recordings)

Five weeks since its release, Eminem's universally popular (and deservedly so) latest album The Marshall Mathers LP2 (Interscope) continues to top the charts at Amoeba Hollywood as seen in the above latest top five from the LA store. And that is not the only place Eminem is number one this week. His incredibly popular current album single "The Monster (featuring Rihanna)" just hit number one on the Billboard charts, meaning that Eminem now ranks as the rapper with the most number one pop singles (a total of five). Meanwhile, the new album's first single "Berzerk" is a nominee for best rap performance in the upcoming Grammy Awards as announced by the organization last Friday. Furthermore, the Eminem song is being used in advertising for the Jan. 26, 2014 Grammy ceremony. However the full The Marshall Mathers LP2 is not eligible for a trophy in the 56th annual show because of the timing of its release.

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Amoeba's Zak Wilson On New "Art Gods" Documentary And Tower Records' 1980's Art Displays, Part II

Posted by Billyjam, December 12, 2013 09:09am | Post a Comment

Last week here on the Amoeblog was the first half of an interview piece with Amoebite Zak Wilson on the subject of the wonderful new documentary that he is featured in: Art Gods (An Oral History of the Tower Records Art Department). Over the weekend the film premiered at San Francisco's Balboa Theatre and this week Art Gods has been released on DVD and is available in each of the three Amoeba Music stores: Berkeley, San Francisco, and Hollywood.

As its full title implies Art Gods is a documentary about the art department at the now defunct Tower Records chain that began in Sacramento in the early sixties when Russ Solomon opened the first Tower Records store. Zak Wilson (that's him above back in the day at Tower), who is among those featured in the engaging doc, worked at Tower in Berkeley during its 80's heyday and has many stories to share from those times - as you will see in the Q+A below that is accompanied by numerous photos of Tower in the 80's and some of their legendary displays - all courtesy of Zak Wilson's photo collection that is featured in Art Gods.


Amoeblog: Many people thought of Tower Records as a big chain run like any other large music chain. But was that really an accurate view of Tower? And was owner Russ Solomon a hands on boss or someone you never saw?

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