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IT TAKES A NATION OF MILLIONS TO HOLD US BACK: APRIL 14, 1988

Posted by Billyjam, April 14, 2009 08:47pm | Post a Comment
public enemy it takes a nation of millions to hold us back
On this date, April 14th, in 1988, Public Enemy (PE) released It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back on Def Jam Recordings and 21 years later it still packs the same punch as when it was first released. Widely considered the Long Island (aka Strong Island), New York group's greatest work ever, It Takes A Nation... was not only one of PE's finest moments, but hip-hop's as well. Released during the much lamented "golden" era of hip-hop, the album, which was the follow up to PE's 1987 debut Yo! Bum Rush the Show, defied the stereotypical "sophomore slump" that so many artists suffered from.

Their debut was a damn good hip-hop album but this album was jaw-droppingly amazing in every way. Production-wise, it was so richly layered and hardcore that it just grabbed you and didn't let go. And as for Chuck D's militant and thought-provoking, in-your-face revolutionary lyrical flow? Wow! It was so powerful it scared some people. But mostly it won over new fans who stil thought of rap as some fad or disposable urban pop. Combined, all the elements of Nation made up an album that was unlike anything heard in hip-hop, or any music, up to that point. I remember that summer of '88 in the Bay Area hearing it blasting everywhere I went in every type of neighborhood. I had never experienced that before!

And although It Takes A Nation... never topped the Billboard 200 (it reached #42 and it did top the less prestigious Billboard R&B/Hip Hop Album charts), its influence was greater and more far-reaching than countless better selling albums that did reach number one. Ever since, it consistantly shows up in All Time Best Album lists by artists, fans, & critics. And musically it was incredibly influential, especially at the time.  In fact, if you go back and listen to virtually every hip-hop recording from the following year or two, 1989 or 1990, you will distinctly hear Nation/PE's direct influence.

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BUT WHO WILL PLAY CAPTAIN RICHARD PHILIPS? GEORGE CLOONEY?

Posted by Billyjam, April 13, 2009 09:17pm | Post a Comment
george clooney
Sssh. Listen. Can you hear it? Can you hear the sound of dozens of keyboards in Hollywood excitedly typing at 90 words a minute to rush off story-board ready drafts of the movie version of yesterday's rescue of ship captain hero Richard Phillips? If ever there was a real news story ready for movie adaption, this is the one: the dramatic seafaring tale of evil pirates overcome by the ever-skilled US Navy SEALs, led by their brave captain in a shoot out rescue of the heroic American captain, and all set against an exotic high seas backdrop.

I am not making light of the situation, but merely observing and reflecting on the sensationalist reaction by the media to the story since the rescue news broke just a day ago. Since then, newspapers, websites, and of course TV news, talk shows, and gossip outlets have each had a field day with eye-catching headlines like HIGH SEAS RESCUE or AMERICAN HEROES. It's already like a Hollywood movie or a superhero comic book. So powerful was this seafaring tale that once the rescue news broke Sunday afternoon all the 'controversy' over Barack Obama bowing to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia got swept aside and instantly forgotten.

Hence, the question of whether or not there might be a movie made about thiscastellano and phillips based-on-a-true-story, high seas pirate adventure is moot. Of course there will be a movie! At least one. Shoot, it's got every element you could ask for in an action-adventure blockbuster (complete with an built in happy ending -- it just needs a little love story thrown in for good meaure and even broader box-office appeal). It even has the President of the United States directly involved. Can't you just envision the Situation Room scene in the movie with the actor playing Obama overseeing the nail-biting proceedings?

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MUSIC MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND: "STAND BY ME" MOOGALOOP

Posted by Billyjam, April 11, 2009 07:40am | Post a Comment

From the award-winning documentary Playing For Change: Peace Through Music comes the first of many "songs around the world" being released independently. Featured is a cover of the Ben E. King classic "Stand By Me" (above) with musicians around the world adding their part to the song as it travelled the globe. This song and the rest of the film soundtrack and DVD will both be available in Amoeba Music in a couple of weeks, on April 28th.

AMOEBA MUSIC HIP-HOP WEEKLY ROUND UP: 04:10:09

Posted by Billyjam, April 10, 2009 07:22am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music HFloRida Rootsollywood Hip-Hop Top Five: 04:10:09

1) DOOM Born Like This (Lex)

2) Flo Rida R.O.O.T.S. (Poe Boy/Atlantic)

3) UGK UGK 4 Life (Jive)

4) Jim Jones Pray IV Reign (Columbia)

5) Madlib Beat Konducta Vols 5 6 (Stones Throw)

Miami pop rap act Flo RIda is In the number two slot this week with his just released second album R.O.O.T.S. The record includes the already major hit "RIght Round" -- the unavoidably popular track that reworks Dead Or Alive's mid-eighties synth-pop hit “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” to which it owes its phenomenal success. Despite contributions from the likes of Ne-Yo, Akon, Wyclef Jean, Pleasure P, and Nelly Furtado, this sophomore album on Poe Boy/Atlantic, while better than Flo Rida's debut, comes off as hollow and ten years from now will most likely forgotten. The problem? Like most mainstream hip-hop, it doesn't sound like it is coming from the heart or soul but instead comes off as music manufacturejim jones pray iv reignd out of a desire to score a quick pop hit.

Meanwhile, Harlem artist Jim Jones' delayed latest album, Pray IV Reign -- his first for Columbia -- is a superior record and sounds like it is made from the heart. But it too suffers from a common problem in rap these days, the derivative factor. In this case, the former hype-man is constantly channeling 2Pac, not only copping Shakur's whole rhyme flow and inflections, but going so far as to even loot some of his trademark phrases ("Keep your head up," he spits on the new album track "Let It Out").

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MIAMI GRAFFITI THROUGH THE LENSES OF JAMES & KARLA MURRAY

Posted by Billyjam, April 9, 2009 04:00am | Post a Comment
Photo-journalists/authors James and Karla Murray's last two graffiti books (Broken Windows and Burning New York) as well as their very recently published Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York (all three published by Gingko Press) all covered the territory of the five boroughs of New York City.

But for their latest graffiti book, published this week by Prestel, they traveled to Miami, Florida to capture the 200 + vibrant images for this recommended
contemporary art coffee table book.

Simply titled Miami Graffiti, it is an amazing collection that captures the vibrant and stylistically diverse graffiti and murals of Miami, a city that for some reason tends to be overlooked somewhat when it comes to its street art scene. In fact, this is the first book to focus soley on Miami graf. Flipping through the pages upon pages of perfectly shot, bright, colorful panoramic shots, it's immediately evident that the husband and wife team of James and Karla Murray have both a real passion and a true gift for what they do.

For this Amoeblog I invited the photo authors, who I will interview in a few weeks on the New York graf scene, to supply the Amoeblog with some high resolution jpegs of Miami Graffiti from pages I randomly picked, based on my own taste and the variety of styles displayed. I also asked them to say a few words on each shot and the subject captured. Their words are below, with the page of the book each image appears on as well.


p.40) CROME
The artist CROME says, "I always like to incorporate a character into my piece because if you just do letters it can look repetitive. You need something more to look at than just letters."

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