Amoeblog

Dick Conte on Black Orpheus 50 Years After Its Release

Posted by Billyjam, February 12, 2009 09:00pm | Post a Comment

The 1959 Marcel Camus directed film Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro in Portuguese) is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary with a special screening on Saturday night (Feb 14th) at the Culver Plaza Theaters as part of the ongoing Pan African Film Festival which Amoeba has been promoting. If you can, you should attend this screening. I have already seen the film about black orpheusa dozen times, but never on the big screen where it is meant to be seen. What I love most about Black Orpheus, even on the small screen, is the music, which is a seemingly never ending percussion based track that plays throughout the entire film as everyone moves to its rhythm. It is like one long dance.

Beautifully shot, it is a love story based on the play Orfeu da Conceição by Vinicius de Moraes, which is an adaptation of the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice only set in (then contemporary) late 1950's Rio de Janeiro during the Carnaval festivities. If it were not for this film the whole Bossa nova (which is Portuguese for "new trend") movement would not have taken off.

The film influenced many people in the US upon its release and in subsequent years. One of these was longtime jazz musician and Bay Area jazz radio DJ Dick Conte who, as a jazz piano player/keyboardist, has long fronted his own trio and as a radio DJ has been on such Bay Area stations as legendary jazz station KJAZ where he started his radio DJ career in 1962 and worked on-and-off until 1983, KMPX, KSFO, KKCY, KKSF (where he worked for over 20 years until last month and where he hosted the Sunday night jazz show that included the popular feature "A Taste Of Brazil"), and KCSM 91.1FM where he hosts the Saturday afternoon jazz program from 2-6PM.

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Black History Month 2009: A Convict's Perspective - X-Raided, Part II. Q&A with incarcerated rapper from Pleasant Valley State Prison

Posted by Billyjam, February 10, 2009 03:07pm | Post a Comment
x-raided the eternally unforgiven project
This is the second part in the exclusive two-part Black History Month: A Convict's Perspective by X-Raided, for the Amoeblog Black HIstory Month series. The first part, posted a little earlier and found immediately below this Amoeblog, is an essay that I invited longtime incarcerated Sacramento rapper Anerae "X-Raided" Brown to pen on what Black History Month means to him from where he sits: the California State Penitentiary in Coalinga. This part is a Q&A with him.

Due to the prison recently being on lockdown, both this interview (via mail) and his insightul essay on what Black History Month means to him, took longer to get done than initially anticipated. But such is the plight of living a life behind bars, something that Anerae addresses in both of these engaging Black Hisotry Month Amoeblogs which might be a little long but are well worth taking the time to read.

Now 34 years of age, Brown has been incarcerated for half of his life, since the age of 17. From his early to mid teens in Sacramento, X-Raided had been an active member of the 24th Street Garden Blocc Crips gang -- even long before his first release came out. In 1992 he was arrested for his alleged part, along with several others, in the fatal shooting of Patricia Harris (the mother of a rival gang member). Brown has never denied being present at the shooting but has always maintained his innocence, in that he was not the one who pulled the trigger. Adhering to the unwritten "No Snitch" code of the streets, he would not tell cops who did pull the trigger. “I could have testified and gone home,” the rapper famously said in an interview at the time. “But I kept it real.” Hence, he is still incarcerated on murder conspiracy charges with a 31 year sentence. His first album, Psycho Active, came out in 1992 and made history when it was used in court against him, with authorities playing music from the indie rap album and also citing the cover art (the rapper's face with a .38-caliber handgun pressed to his temple --see below) as evidence in the case against Brown.

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Black History Month: A Convict's Perspective, Pt 1: Longtime incarcerated California rap artist X-Raided offers his perspective

Posted by Billyjam, February 10, 2009 03:05pm | Post a Comment
Black History Month – A Convict’s Perspective By Aneraé “X-Raided” Brown

As a 34 year old incarcerated African-American male, as a hip-hop artist, and as a human being, I can unequivocally say Black History Month has a deeper meaning to me now than it ever did, any prior year. You see, I am a California boy, a real child of the 80’s. You know, Reaganomics, Oliver North, Freeway Rick, Manuel Noriega… no Rick Ross. I am the fabled crack baby. A boy who became a teen during what some argue was one of the roughest, most dangerous periods in U.S. history. I turned 14 in 1988, a black boy, a fledgling member of the notorious Crip gang, trying to learn how to fly, in the wrong direction, unknowingly, with lead wings. Pistols, cocaine, HIV/AIDS, the Cold War; how those things became the concerns of a 14 year old, who, according to a paternal grandmother named Jesse Mae Martin, of Mobile, Alabama, had “the bright eyes of an old man and an old soul,” God only knows. A boy who learned by what he decried, I was an impressionable teen absorbing the teachings that emanated from the conditions I saw on a daily basis, which included police brutality, the devastation of the gang and crack epidemics on the black community, and an overall fear and disdain of both white people and law enforcement, issues with were largely ignored by the mainstream media. The only journalistic reports being published that addressed these matters to reach my eyes and ears were coming to me in the form of hip-hop music, videos, movies and magazines: Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing; Yo! MTV Raps; The Source magazine; In Living Color; and the strongest voices of all, which came from a few little groups you may have heard of that went by the names of Public Enemy, NWA, and the Geto Boys. They were, to the streets, what The Beatles were to white folk. What James Brown, Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye were to older black folk. They were the voices of our generation. Chuck D and Ice Cube’s voices are as recognizable to us as Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s are to, say, a Baby Boomer, for perspective.  "Fight the Power," "Fu*k the Police" -- you know Chuck D and Ice Cube’s voices and the sounds of Dr. Dre and The Bomb Squad, even if you do not know their names and faces.

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BOB MARLEY CELEBRATIONS IN DA BAY

Posted by Billyjam, February 7, 2009 10:50am | Post a Comment

Bob Marley + Wailers "Stir It Up"

Bob Marley, who would have celebrated his 64th birthday yesterday, February 6th, may be dead for three decades but his legacybob marley legend lives on and his legend grows through his timeless & universally loved music. Even in 2009 Marley remains the most widely known and loved reggae music artist of all time. Proof lies in the fact that the Bob Marley collection Legend seems to be in everyone's music collection. Released back in 1984 -- three years after his death -- it continues to sell well to this day.

And over the next week in the Bay Area there are several Bob Marley celebrations lined up. Tonight (Saturday, Feb 7th) at the Mezzanine in San Francisco the group Groundation with special guests Will Bernard and Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace will present their Annual Tribute to Bob Marley. 9PM show. Tix $25 avail here. Tomorrow night (Sunday Feb 8th) at the Shattuck Down Low in Berkeley the weekly King of Kings Reggae Dance party is paying tribute to Bob Marley. And next Saturday, Feb 14th, Jah Love UniversalClub Dread present their Bob Marley Celebration with music by such renowned Bay Area sound selectors as Spliff Skankin, Brixton Hitman, Humble Lion, and General Patton. 9PM to 2AM. Tix $10. 21+ More info on Pier 23.

AMOEBA MUSIC WEEKLY HIP-HOP ROUND UP 02:05:09

Posted by Billyjam, February 5, 2009 04:45pm | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music Hollywood Hip-Hop Top Five: 02:05:09
diplo decent work for decent pay
1) Diplo Decent Work for Decent Pay
 (Big Dada)

2) P.O.S. Never Better (Rhymesayers)

3) Illa J Yancey Boys (Delicious Vinyl)

4) J-Dilla Yancey Boys Instrumentals
(Delicious Vinyl)

5) RZA Afro Samurai Resurrection (TVT)

A glance at the new top five hip hop albums chart above from the Hollywood Amoeba is proof that 2009 in hip-hop is already looking real good with numerous quality new releases dropping or about to drop from all over the map, both stylistically and geographically.

Multi-talented Staten Island Wu warrior RZA, who plays Sunday night in San Francisco at Mezzanine on a bill along with Pariah and DJ Radius and others, has just dropped the album soundtrack to the Spike TV animated show Afro Samurai Resurrection on TVT. Meanwhile from Calgary, Canada comes the talented duo of Dragon Fli Empire, which is DJ Cosm and Teekay. The pair have been putting it down for a minute in their homeland. Both their 2004 release Conquest and their 2006 album Invasion got warm responses. On their new 2009 album Redefine they are joined by several guests, including fellow Canadian Cadence Weapon and Bay Area resident emcee Raashan Ahmad (of solo and Crown City Rockers fame) who joins them on "Ride On" -- one of the best tracks on the album. Other good cuts on the 14 track CD include "Just That Nice."
mic crenshaw thinking out loud
Out of Portland, Oregon come two great yet stylistically very different emcees: Sapient and Mic Crenshaw. Mic Crenshaw's Thinking Out Loud on Focused Noise is the debut solo release by the emcee who has built a fan base as part of Suckapunch, Hungry Mob, and Cleveland Steamers. Although associated with the Northwest's hip-hop scene, the artist is not from there originally. Born and raised in Chicago (Southside), he moved to Portland via Minneapolis. As much an activist as an emcee, Crenshaw is a founding member of Anti Racist Action and the famed Minneapolis anti-racist skinhead crew, The Baldies. He is also reportedly co-founder of a non-profit caled Global Farm which has been instrumental in setting up computer centers for Iraqi refugees, as well as for disadvantaged youth in Burundi in Central Africa. Not surprisingly then, Crenshaw's new album addresses some of the issues that are close to his heart. On the album he is joined by another politically minded hip-hopper, Stic Man of Dead Prez. Other guests include Nightclubber Lang of Boom Bap Project.

Meanwhile, Portland emcee/producer Sapient's Letterhead is a refreshingly original sounding new hip-hop album. To date he is best known as part of the Northwest crew Sandpeople, whose members Ethic and Onlyone each make cameos here, and whose most recent release, Honest Rocket, released last May featuring The Grouch and Sean Price, got quite a good buzz.  Letterhead is even better and proves how sometimes when the emcee is also the producer things can really click perfectly. Sapient doesn't even try to adhere to the unwritten rule of only digging in the funk and breaks crates for his soundscapes. Instead he has an arsenal of unconventional samples and sounds, like the bugged out computer effects on the song "Stay Connected," to draw from and funnel into the mix and still have them come out hip-hop sounding.

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