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Interview with Zumbi of Zion I About Oakland Duo's Forthcoming Album Atomic Clock + Free Download of new Zion I Track

Posted by Billyjam, October 6, 2010 08:00am | Post a Comment
Zion I Atomic Clock
Yesterday super-talented, longtime Oakland hip-hop group Zion I headed out on the road for the beginning of an intensive two-month tour in support of their soon-to- drop new album Atomic Clock on Gold Dust Media which will be arriving in Amoeba Music on its November 9th release date.  To download an advance free copy of the new album track "Many Stylez" featuring Rebulution (with whom they are out on tour with)_ click here. Yesterday while en route to the airport for the kickoff of the intensive Zion I tour (approx 40 dates over the next eight weeks).

I caught up with the hard working duo's emcee Zumbi to ask him about his and musical partner/producer Amp Live's latest album, which is their seventh full-length. I wondered how lyrically Atomic Clock is different from past Zion I releases, in particular their last album, The Takeover (Gold Dust), that dropped back in early 2009. "It's different from The Takeover because on The Takeover it was, I would say, a very conscientious process, like revising a lot of the record. Like I wrote [the song] "Antenna" about four or five Zion I The Takeovertimes. There was just a lot of thought about every aspect of that record, like editing little phrasing and a lot of hook editing over and over again, just different phases of redoing the songs," he recalled.

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Acceptance of Gays in 2010: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back? Despite More Inclusion of Gays in the Media, Violence Against Gays Escalates

Posted by Billyjam, October 5, 2010 04:00pm | Post a Comment
The Stonewall Inn
On the surface it seems totally contradictory that within the span of the very same week GLAAD announced visibility of gays is at an all time high for the new 2010 / 2011 television season, that news of some of the most heinous attacks on the LGBT community also surfaced. These include the cyber attack on 18 year old Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide after being humiliated by his roommate taping/streaming him online having sex with another man. They also include the gay bashing of three men in Chelsea, NY's predominantly gay neighborhood, over the weekend, and the even more shocking brutal gay-bashing attack on 34 year old Benjamin Carver on Sunday night inside the bathroom of Greenwich Village, NY bar The Stonewall Inn (yes the Stonewall, as in the birthplace of the gay rights movement) by two violent homophobic Staten Island men. Add to this list numerous other hate attacks on gays across the nation (whether violent, verbal, or cyber) in recent weeks and months and you begin to wonder if we are regressing or progressing as a society.

If the LGBT community is more visible than ever (and hence supposedly more accepted), why the seeming increase in hate crimes? Is there possibly a backlash to this increased exposure, seen as Michael Mustooverexposure by some, of gays in the media? Do such things as the billboards in every New York City subway station and other major metropolitan TV markets advertising Logo TV's new gay reality show The A List trigger repressed hatred in some? Earlier today via email I asked noted author/journalist/TV personality and longtime La Dolce Musto columnist Michael Musto (described by the NY Times as a journalist "who has chronicled the lives of drag queens, club kids, and an array of freaks and celebrities for The Village Voice for 25 years") if he thought there was a direct correlation between the results of this study and the recent attacks on gays. "I feel that every time there is forward motion on the part of the gay community, there's some backlash from the haters," replied Musto. "They get extra panicky and desperately try to seize control back. So it's quite possible that the upsurge in gay characters on TV (and gay visibility everywhere) has had something to do with the recent incidents."

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Unsung Hero Dannie "Fut" James of LA's Impact Record Pool Dies of Cancer

Posted by Billyjam, October 2, 2010 11:13am | Post a Comment

When tragedy strikes and a hip-hop artist dies, the sad news usually travels fast. The same is not always true with those behind the scenes soldiers in the hip-hop world: the promoters, the managers, the sound technicians etc. -- the unsung heroes working the unseen daily grind to help make it all work. Dannie "Fut" James of LA's hip-hop Impact Record Pool was such an individual. He quietly passed away from complications of multiple myeloma, a form of cancer, on September 23, 2010. He was 59 years of age.

A co-founder of the influential record pool that serviced both club and radio station DJs in SoCal and sometimes beyond, James, who was also a DJ, was described by colleague General Jeff as "a pioneer in the West Coast rap game. Back when hit records were determined by 'street buzz' first [he] had a strong hand in launching the careers of both West Coast and East Coast rap artists alike."
 
Jeff, a longtime LA rap industry insider and community activist, noted that the most striking thing about "Fut" was that he was a giving, selfless individual, who was all about the music. "He never wanted to be in the spotlight. When I first met him, I would always see him at all the record industry functions, like the BRE conferences and the R&R conferences and befriended him there." Jeff credits him with the rise of the first wave of West Coast rap. "Once West Coast rap started taking off big, I once asked James if he had a problem with not getting the recognition that he deserved," recalled Jeff. "He replied, "I don't do this for the recognition, I do this for the music! It's not about me, it's about Impact Record Pool!"

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Hip-Hop Rap Up 10:01:10: New Releases from Ice Cube, 9th Wonder + Nemo, Group Home, Skyzoo & Illmind, Pigeon John + More

Posted by Billyjam, October 1, 2010 09:00am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music Hollywood Weekly Hip-Hop Top Five Chart: 10:01:10

Ice Cube
1) Ice Cube I Am The West (Lench Mob Records)

2) Nas & Damian Marely Distant Relatives (Republic)

3) Eminem Recovery (Aftermath, Interscope, Shady)

4) Black Milk Album of the Year (Fat Beats)

5) 9th Wonder Presents Big Nemo Entrapment (The Orchard/Traffic)

Released this past Tuesday, veteran West Coast rapper Ice Cube's new album  I Am The West (Lench Mob Records) has shot to the number one slot on the new Hip-Hop Top Five Chart at Amoeba Hollywood. Featuring the head-nodding, hook-driven lead single "I Rep The West" that's been out most of the summer, the album, although only dropping now at the end of the summer, is billed as a "celebration of summertime on the west coast." But really it's an anytime upbeat record that is not as strictly West Coast (i.e., G-Funk) sounding as one might expect it to be by its title. And while admittedly this is not Cube's finest work (that dates back to the first few years after he departed NWA), it ain't bad either. I rate it a 3 and half out of five star release, with strong cuts like the aforementioned lead single, plus "Nothing Like LA," "Hood Robbin'," and "No Country For Young Men." But the sixteen track album (that fortunately features no AutoTune and only a handful of his old school West Coat potnas) also has some filler, such as "Fat Cat." But considering the amount of time that Cube has been in the music biz (2+ decades) and the image challenge he faces with trying to balance being an actor and rapper (South Central gangsta rapper vs. family friendly figure in vehicles like Are We There Yet?), Cube somehow pulls it off, delivering bangers such as "No Country For Young Men" that remind one of the old Cube.

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Actor Tony Curtis Dead at Age 85

Posted by Billyjam, September 30, 2010 07:07am | Post a Comment
Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon +  Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot (1959)

As reported by the Associated Press, legendary Hollywood actor Tony Curtis died yesterday (Sept 29th) Tony Curtisof cardiac arrest at his home in the Las Vegas area. He was 85. Curtis, who made over a hundred films between the years 1949 and 2008, will be best remembered for comic roles he played such as his full-drag impersonation of a female jazz musician ("Josephine") in 1959's Some Like It Hot and for serious roles such as an escaped chain gang prisoner in The Defiant Ones.

The son of Jewish immigrants from Hungary, he was born Bernard Schwartz and had a tough childhood with his parents. They were so broke and desperate during the Depression years that they had to place him, along with his brother, in a state institution. After serving in the Navy during WWII he turned his focus to acting and at first chose James Curtis as his stage name. He then eventually settled on Anthony Curtis. He was billed as Tony Curtis for the first time in the 1950 western Kansas Raiders. 

Curtis' movie career officially began in 1948 when he won a contract with Universal Pictures, which initially resulted in several small roles in movies such as the 1949 Robert Siodmak directed Criss Cross and the 1950 Arthur Lubin directed Francis. In 1951 he would receive top billing for the first time when he starred in the Rudolph Maté directed The Prince Who Was a Thief. Up to this point his parts were Tony Curtis + Janet Leighserious dramatic ones, but in 1952 he got to unveil his comic talents for the first time in Douglas Sirk’s No Room for the Groom. His first role of considerable importance was in 1953's George Marshall directed Houdini, in which he played opposite his wife Janet Leigh. Married in 1951, the equally attractive couple were the equivalent of Brangelina in the movie fan magazines of the day.

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