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Hip-Hop Rap-Up: RIP Dot-A-Rock & The Jacka, Flip with Phat Kat & Elzhi, DJ Rob A with Masta Ace + more

Posted by Billyjam, February 6, 2015 11:34am | Post a Comment
Tragic news for Bay Area rap fans this week when they learned that popular longtime Bay Area rapper Dominic "The Jacka" Newton was shot and killed in East Oakland on Monday night (Feb 2nd) - the result of a bullet wound to the head. 

According to reports the 37 year old, Oakland based, Pittsburg, CA born hip-hop artist died doing what he loved most: rapping and freestyling with a group of seven hip-hop friends of his sitting in a van - The Jacka was standing outside beside the van when the shooting took  place. A very prolific artist, who has released numerous solo projects and collaborative projects (he's worked with everyone), The Jacka was a constant best-seller at the two Bay Area Amoeba Music stores including such releases as his 2009 Freeway collaboration Highway Robbery and his 2009 album Tear Gas which remains his best selling album to date (the video for the Traxamillion produced album track "Glamorous Lifestyle" appears below).

  
  
Andre Nickatina (featured in the above "Glamorous Lifestyle") was just one of countless fellow Bay Area artists that The Jacka collaborated with over the years. Others  include Berner, E-40, Guce, Keak da Sneak, and Friscasso The Jeweler (recently profiled on the Amoeblog) while on a national level he's worked with such artists as NYC emcee Cormega, Southern rapper Paul Wall, and Philly rapper Freeway. (Highway Robbery cover right). Ever since the news broke on Tuesday of The Jacka's shooting murder many online commenters have cynically suggested that being a gangsta rapper that he had he had it coming to him (IE: live by the sword die by the sword). However the truth is that while he rapped about the street "lifestyle" and all that went with it - he did so in a non glamorizing way - but in a real observant way.  Those who knew him all describe him a good person and an artist first and foremost. And what a prolific one too!

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Dilla Weekend Kicks Off In Miami

Posted by Billyjam, February 5, 2015 07:10pm | Post a Comment
After years of celebrating the legacy of Detroit's favorite son - the late great, revered hip-hop producer J Dilla - in his hometown of Detroit with the annual Dilla Day, this year Dilla's mom Ma Dukes moves the official main celebration of her beloved son way south of the cold February Motor City to sunny and warm Miami, Florida for not one day but an extended weekend of concerts, parties, and celebrations of her son who died nine years ago on February 10th, 2006. For this year's blockbuster event, that kicks off today (Feb 5th) and runs through Sunday (Feb 8th), there is an amazing line up of artists performing in Dilla's honor.

This impressive lineup includes his old crew Slum Village, kindred producer spirits/friends Madlib and Pete RockMobb Deep, acclaimed new artist Joey Bada$$, Talib Kweli, Tony Touch, Black Milk, ESTA, and Camp Lo. These and many still TBA guests will appear at concerts, BBQs, producer panels, and artist meet and greets.

These events will be held at various venues around the Midtown/Wynwood area of Miami including at The Stage, Bardot, and LMNT. For more information and tickets, both all weekend passes and individual shows (Note: some already sold out), go to JDillaWeekend website that includes all the info on such shows as tonight's opening concert party with Madlib, Kumi, Mr Brown, and DZ at Bardot. Also note that this is the main Dilla event but that there will be many others held over the coming days all over the place including over in the UK. Meantime below are a couple of videos of some classic Dilla tracks. Oh and if you don't already have it in your collection - pick up the recently released Dilla 10" LP Beat Batch series.

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5% Nation Hip-Hop Group Brand Nubian

Posted by Billyjam, February 5, 2015 10:55am | Post a Comment
Back in the late eighties / early nineties at the peak of the so-called Afro-centric movement within hip-hop many groups embraced the teachings of the 5% Nation (aka Five Percenters, and the Nation of Gods and Earths) which is the half-century old political organization founded by former Nation of Islam member Clarence "13X" Edward Smith (aka Allah the Father) who was a former student of Malcolm X. Of all these hip-hop groups associated with the Five Percenters the best known was Brand Nubian who consistently espoused the teachings of the Five Percent Nation in their music. These songs included "All For One" which was the title track off the New Rochelle, NY crew's stellar debut album - one that remains a hip-hop classic to this day. However the track caused a good deal of controversy  around the time of its release because the group -- originally made up of emcees Grand Puba, Sadat X, and Lord Jamar along with DJ Alamo --  were outspoken and true to their political beliefs from day one; proudly and unapologetically using their recordings and concerts  as a platform to display both their Islamic faith and the teachings of The 5% Nation.

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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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