Amoeblog

May Day 2014: Songs That Celebrate and Defend The Rights of Workers Everywhere

Posted by Billyjam, May 1, 2014 09:40am | Post a Comment
        Common a month ago doing a free show in support of workers at the Nissan car
        plant in Canton, Miss. who are pushing for a vote to organize as part of the UAW


In light of the ever increasing war being waged against unions and in turn the stripping of the basic rights of the working class in this country and elsewhere, this year's May Day (the internationally recognized day to celebrate and to defend the rights of workers everywhere from Modesto to Moscow) seems extra significant on this May 1st, 2014; perhaps even as significant as that very first mass US May Day protest back in 1886 when hundreds of thousands of disgruntled workers across the US, in a fight for an 8 hour work day, walked off their jobs in protest. Hence for this May Day I have assembled a selection of songs/videos that reflect the plight of struggling workers in a time when the gap between the rich controlling class and the rest of us gets wider and wider. 

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New York State of Mind Amoeblog #79: Red Bull Music Academy Festival NYC, Bike Month, Aerial NYC, Concerts + more

Posted by Billyjam, April 30, 2014 03:06pm | Post a Comment


You gotta just love the above aerial-view shot video of New York City that, in a mere two minutes, offers a remarkable overview (literally), utilizing the assistance of a drone, of the Big Apple and a real sense of its majestic beauty and vastness. Made by aerial photographer Randy Scott Slavin and perfectly synced to the soundtrack of RL Grime & What So Not's song "Tell Me" the engaging short-but-powerful video, that was published a couple of weeks ago via Vimeo, is the next best thing to taking a helicopter ride around Manhattan as it takes in such vistas as the Brooklyn Bridge, the Highline, and Washington Square Park. Speaking of visiting New York City - now and for the next month is a good time to do so before both the weather gets too hot and before prices of flights start to go up. 

While the non-stop rain we have been enduring all day today here in New York City continues through tomorrow (May 1st) with an 80% chance of precipitation, come Friday sunshine and nice temps will be ushered in and forecast to remain with us in the Big Apple for most of the rest of the month of May. And that's good news since May in NY is traditionally the month when everything and everyone seems to shift from indoors to outdoors with lots of activities taking place such as the annual AIDS Walk NYC that happens on Sunday May 18th and benefits over 40 AIDS service organizations in NY, NJ, and CT and, as of today April 30th, has already raised over $2million for the cause.  See route map here, and for more info and how to get involved click here.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Too $hort's Landmark Release "Life Is....Too $hort"

Posted by Billyjam, April 29, 2014 02:45pm | Post a Comment
In true battle rap tradition the cover of Too $hort's classic late eighties album Life Is…Too $hort shows the Oakland rapper, in a now iconic photo by Oakland photographer Victor Hall, triumphantly posing over the headstone of one of his fictitious fallen rap rivals "Sucker MC John Doe" who was "Born on Stage" and "Died on Wax. Rest In Peace."   The ten track album was originally released 26 years ago and, of the close to twenty albums that the prolific, pioneering Oakland rapper born (in LA) Todd Shaw has put out over an illustrious career that dates back to the early eighties and continues up to this day, Life Is...Too Short (along with Born To Mack), remains among the most popular Too $hort albums with diehard fans who identify with the artist's notorious player/mack persona.

Released in January 1988 when he was already "Eight years on the mic and I'm not joking. Sir Too Short coming straight from Oakland," Life Is...Too Short was the rapper's fifth album and his second for Jive Records - co-released and first released via the East Bay indie Dangerous Music. Over rumbling bass-lines and predominantly slowed down BPM booming tracks, mostly produced by Al Eaton at his now legendary East Bay One Little Indian Studios, Life is..... offered up plenty of $hort Dog's trademark "nasty raps" to satisfy fans of his Richard Pryor-meets-Blowfly inspired sexually explicit rhymes  that were personified by the previous album's (Born To Mack) underground hit "Freaky Tales."  $hort continued that theme on such tracks as "Pimp Tha Hoe,"  the sexually charged "Don't Fight The Feeling" (that, along with the Dangerous Crew compilation - also via Dangerous Music - introduced the rap world to a pre "Players Club" Rappin' 4-Tay), and the self-explanatory "Cuss Words" which, not surprisingly, offered a non-stop barrage of cuss word  tales of naughty nastiness that began with $hort rapping, "To all you bitches, hoes, and all that shit. Here's another rap that I'm ready to spit. It goes like this, my name is $hort. I'm tearin shit up like never before Pimp slaps, makin snaps. Cold cash money and Too $hort raps." The song, which shocked parent groups at the time, went on to include $hort threatening to "fuck your wife" with the "your" being anyone who crossed his path.

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Hip-Hop Loses Another Legend With the Passing of DJ E-Z Rock

Posted by Billyjam, April 28, 2014 01:00pm | Post a Comment

Rob Base & DJ EZ-Rock "It Takes Two" (1988)


Hip-Hop has lost another legend and way too early in life too. Harlem hip-hop artist and one half of the legendary hip-hop duo Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock, Rodney "Skip" Bryce died yesterday of, as yet, undisclosed reasons at the young age of 46. A DJ and producer, who began his career three decades ago, DJ E-Z Rock along with partner in rhyme Rob Base will be best remembered for their two biggest hits, both from the late 80's: "It Takes Two" and "Joy and Pain." The songs were two of the four singles culled from their Profile Records 1988 hit album It Takes Two. The huge success of the single "It Takes Two" was in part due to the perfect choice of sample (James Brown-produced Lyn Collin's 1972 hit "Think (About It)" that fueled its memorable chorus) plus the fact that the song was equal parts rap and house/dance music - hence appealing to varying audiences.

As soon as the news of the DJ's death began to spread yesterday friends/collaborators/fans alike all took to social media to offer their condolences and memories including Biz Markie who first Tweeted the sad news, and fellow Harlem NY hip-hop veteran DJ Red Alert who, along with the classic photo of the artist (left), wrote via Instragram: "We Have Lost Our Very Own From Harlem NYC & The Hip-Hop Culture Our Brother DJ E-Z Rock. Rest In Peace Boss, My Condolences To The Friends & Family Of The Abraham Lincoln Houses." Above is the music video for "It Takes Two" while below is a live performance version of "Joy and Pain" at the Apollo on 125th Street in Harlem not far from where DJ E-Z Rock grew up. In a tragic side note singer Omar Chandler, the artist born Chandler Spencer who is seen/heard singing the hook on "Joy and Pain," died a year ago at age 51 - a stabbing murder/robbery victim in Hartsville, South Carolina.

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Hip-Hop Rap-Up, Week End 04.25.14: Top 5, New Releases with E-Lit, SF DMC Regional with DJ Cue, Blitz the Ambassador + more

Posted by Billyjam, April 25, 2014 12:54pm | Post a Comment
          


Amoeba Berkeley Hip-Hop Top 5, Week Ending 04:25:14


1) Childish Gambino   Because The Internet [Record Store Day] (LP) (Glassnote)

2) Notorious B.I.G. Life After Death [Clear Vinyl] [Record Store Day] (LP) (Atlantic)

3) J. Stalin S.i.d.-shining I (Town Thizness)

4) Various Artists Mandala Vol. 1: Polysonic Flows (Mello Music Group)

5) Nocando Jimmy the Burnout (Hellfyre Club)

As a result of the mad rush for exclusive Record Store Day releases at Amoeba Music on the incredibly busy RSD 2014 last Saturday some of those releases make up the latest Hip-Hop Top Five weekly chart from the Berkeley Amoeba store where E-Lit, in the video above, does a run down of new releases and what was popular during Record Store Day such as the vinyl version of Childish Gambino's  Because The Internet.  Other new chart entries include Bay Area homegrown talent J. Stalin's in demand new joint S.i.d.-shining I, the excellent Mello Music label compilation sampler Mandala Vol. 1: Polysonic Flows, and brand new Hellfyre Club release Jimmy the Burnout from Nocando.

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