Saluting The Late Prog Rock Keyboardist Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Posted by Billyjam, March 11, 2016 07:56pm | Post a Comment

Famed prog rock keyboardist Keith Emerson of Emerson Lake & Palmer (and The Nice) fame died late last night (March 10th) as confirmed by the rock trio's Facebook page today. As yet no cause of death has been yet announced for the passing of the pioneering 71-year-old, British-born musical pioneer who was living in Santa Monica in recent years. An early adapter of and ambassador for the Moog synthesizer, Emerson leaves behind a legacy of recordings. His back catalog spans albums he recorded with his two main groups as well as solo and collaborative projects including soundtracks. Among albums for The Nice include the high concept, ambitious live performance piece Five Bridges. Considered by many to be the greatest live recording, it is all the more impressive when you consider that the musicians were only in the early/mid twenties. This album by The Nice was released in 1970, which was the same year of the self-titled debut by Emerson Lake & Palmer.

Clearly Emerson was a busy prolific artist. Over the career of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, the band would release nine studio albums including their fourth album, Brain Salad Surgery, in 1973 with its distinctive H.R. Giger cover art (right).  The original soundtracks credited to Emerson are for 1980's Inferno by Dario Argento, and the interrelated film soundtrack for La Chiesta  with Italian prog rockers Goblin. The most recent Emerson album to arrive in Amoeba was the November 2015 release of the rock jazz fusion seven track CD/Miniablum by The Keith Emerson Trio. (cover below)

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Public Enemy and X-Clan's Role As Part of NYC's Revolutionary Rap Soundtrack of Unrest of 1989/1990

Posted by Billyjam, March 8, 2016 11:50pm | Post a Comment

In 1989 Public Enemy's raw rebellious rap anthem "Fight The Power" reigned supreme. An across the board hit, it was the theme driving the soundtrack of Spike Lee's classic movie Do The Right Thing. Public Enemy performing live and the striking imagery of an emotionally charged political rally set the tone for the accompanying music video. Spike Lee directed the music video, which included clips from his film Do The Right Thing. Perfect and perfectly complimentary, the Brooklyn set video captured both PE and Spike Lee at their respective creative peaks. Each used their art to reflect life in a pitch-perfect way. 

Meanwhile, in real life Brooklyn of 1989, thousands of agitated protesters took to the Brooklyn Bridge. The September protest that upset traffic and authorities ended in riot cops going against protesters. "A mile-long protest march against racism and the recent killing of a black youth…a predominantly black crowd of 7,500 demonstrators breached the police lines in an attempt to cross the bridge and carry the protest into Manhattan," reported the New York Times on this "Day Of Outrage" protest. Led in part by the late X-Clan member Professor X under his Blackwatch political organization, the protest was designed to bring the city to a halt and bring attention to injustices. As well as protesting the August 23rd murder of 16-year-old Bensonhurst resident Yusef Hawkins by a gang of white youths, the protest was also about the August 22nd slaying of Huey P. Newton. The shooting of the 47-year-old former Black Panther leader occurred in Oakland, CA. Hawkins was shot and killed near his home by a bat-wielding white mob who believed he was dating a local white girl.

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Homeboy Sandman joins L'Orange & Jeremiah Jae

Posted by Billyjam, March 7, 2016 11:04am | Post a Comment

L'Orange & Jeremiah Jae - Ignore The Man To Your Right (feat. Homeboy Sandman)

For the new "Ignore The Man To Your Right" music video, Homeboy Sandman joins the collaborative duo of L'Orange and Jeremiah Jae (who teamed up for their current collaborative Mello Music Group album The Night Took Us In Like Family.)  The Stones Throw, Queens, NY rapper, who recently did an in-store at Amoeba Berekely, is one of two invited guests on the 14 track album. The other guest is Bay Area legend Gift Of Gab who joins North Carolina's L'Orange and Chicago's Jeremiah Jae on the album track "All I Need."  Direction credit for the new "Ignore The Man To Your Right" video is attributed to Mero, who crafts a fitting visual counterpart to the songs offbeat rhythm accentuated by L'Orange's throwback era samples and deep kick drums.

"The alchemy of Madvillain and The Maltese Falcon," was how  the album was accurately billed last year. The album's choice of gangster movie (as opposed to gangsta) samples by L'Orange provide inspiration for the mood and tone of the recommended The Night Took Us In Like Family.  L'Orange continues to be one of contemporary hip-hop's most adventurous producers, as well as one of its most prolific. Four months after the release of his collaboration with Jeremiah Jae, L'Orange released his equally stellar full-length collaboration with Kool Keith, also on Mello Music Group. Time? Astonishing!. Below is the music video for that album's track "The Wanderer" that finds Kool Keith in typical wild and crazy form.

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In Advance of 2nd Annual Women's Empowerment Show, CMG of The Conscious Daughters Reflects on Her Pioneering Career

Posted by Billyjam, March 5, 2016 01:51pm | Post a Comment

Presented by and Venus Rising, tonight's 2nd Women's Empowerment Show at Oakland's Starline Social Club promises a "celebration of Women's contributions in Hip Hop" with a showcase of the Bay Area's best talents, including co-headliners DJ Pam The Funkstress and CMG of The Conscious Daughters (TCD). These two pioneering women in Bay Area hip-hop, whose histories date back three decades, will be joined on the bill by a generation of women artists who look to them as role models in a traditionally male-dominated field. Hosted by Breathless and Charity Clay, tonight's show features Ryan Nicole, Yani, Fem Deadly Venoms, and DJ Deeandroid. While the ratio of women to men in hip-hop has always been unbalanced at least today there are more hip-hop artists overall so the number
is larger. Women DJs in hip-hop, from when Pam TheFunkstress started out as DJ in The Coup, have always been a minority group. Same for emcees like Carla "CMG" Green whose history dates back to the mid-eighties when she would stop by the El Cerrito High studios of KECG to hang out with her future TCD partner in rhyme, the late Karryl "Special One" Smith who tragically died in December 2011.

In advance of tonight's Women's Empowerment Show, scheduled during Women's History Month, I caught up with the Bay Area hip-hop pioneer Carla "CMG" Green to reflect back on her long career and her role as a female in a male dominated field, her top favorite female hip-hop artists of all time, and other things too including one that comes to mind during this presidential political season.

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Hip-Hop Top 5 LPs, Young Thug, EXT, Ron Jon Bovi, DJ Quest, Macklemore's Hip-Hop Cred, ADA's Megamagic, Tone Tank & Serengeti

Posted by Billyjam, March 3, 2016 08:05pm | Post a Comment
Traditionally in the music industry Tuesday was the day of the week when new albums got released. Back in the pre-Digital era, Tuesdays were when music fans had no option but to go to the record store to buy new albums the day they were released. And, on occasion, anticipated big name releases would result in stores staying open late Monday night//Tuesday morning past 12:01am to sell select new albums at the first possible moment. Times have changed, not just in the way people get new music but also the day new music is officially released. 

Nowadays Friday is new release day. And last Friday, Feb 26th, was the day that Macklemore Ryan Lewis released their new album This Unruly Mess I've Made (Macklemore), which is the long-awaited follow up to the Seattle duo's 2012 release, the break-out surprise hit album The Heist. Unruly Mess's title no doubt refers to the mess as he sees it in Macklemore's life since he blew up huge and became more popular than everyone, and most likely even he, ever anticipated. In his personal life he's faced demons too, famously relapsing. The mainstream pop rap star has struggled with maintaining the respect of hip-hop fans, no matter how hard he's tried. Everyone recalls, following the 2014 Grammys in which The Heist spun a ton of awards, how the "Thrift Store" rapper publicly shared his private text to Kendrick Lamar, telling the Compton rapper he was "robbed" for not getting Best Rap Album of the year for his good kid, m.A.A.d city.  That Instagram share of his text to the Compton rapper backfired in the court of public opinion. Hence it wasn't surprising when, after this year's recent Grammys in which Lamar eventually won in that category for To Pimp A Butterfly, many could not pass the opportunity to take to social media to joke how "Macklemore was robbed."  Getting so much grief from hip-hop fans for not being true to the genre has to sting Macklemore since the guy obviously loves hip-hop to the core. And with the new album he has gone out of his way, it seems, to demonstrate his respect for hip-hop culture and its pioneers. This began with the new album's lead single and its accompanying video from last summer, that featured the three hip-hop pioneers Grandmaster Melle Mel, Grandmaster Caz, and Kool Moe Dee on the track "Downtown." Note Big Daddy Kane was in the video but not on the track. That video ended up getting over 100 million YouTube views and has likely given more deserving shine to these hip-hop icons (especially the largely slept on Caz) that they've received in their respective careers. Of the 13 track album, another love letter to hip-hop's history is the head-nodding song "Buckshot" in which  Macklemore reached out to two other hip-hop heroes of his. Hip-hop legends KRS-One and DJ Premier collaborate on this track that is an ode to graf art and hip-hop culture.

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