Posted by Billyjam, December 30, 2009 05:00am | Post a Comment
souls of mischief
The highly anticipated new Souls of Mischief album, Montezuma's Revenge, on Clear Label is the Hieroglyphics collective's first official studio album in almost a decade. There's a good reason why the long awaited record has been selling extremely well at each of the three Amoeba Music stores since it was released early this month. It's an amazing album; one that recaptures the magic of each stage of the longtime, unique East Oakland hip-hop crew. Souls of Mischief first burst on the scene in 1993 when they captured the attention of the hip-hop world with their stunning debut 93 Til Infinity on Jive/Zomba. And of course, having Prince Paul, one of hip-hop's most gifted producers, at the helm for Montezuma's Revenge only helpted bring out the best in the Souls of Mischief.

I recently caught up with Tajai of the group and asked him why it took such a long time for this new official Souls full-length album to drop.  "We have been traveling and promoting a gang of records, from Hiero Full Circle and Full Circle Live to Power Movement, Triangulation Station and My Last Good Deed, from the crew and individual members," said Tajai. And just how did the Prince Paul collaboration come about? "Opio and Domino were on the Handsome Boy Modeling School (Dan the Automator & Prince Paul) tour a few years back and they tossed the idea of doing an album back and forth. Prince Paul actually followed up and the rest is history," he said, adding, " Working with him {Paul} was incredible. He is a perfectionist and really brought out the best in all of us." 

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Posted by Billyjam, December 29, 2009 05:00am | Post a Comment
Rokia Traoré "Yankadi"
Rokia Traoré
Thanks to Amoeba Marc for directing folks to the music video for the great song "Yankadi" by talented West African artist Rokia Traoré. In the video, one of her accompanying musicians is sporting an Amoeba Music T-shirt. (He first appears at :12 but much clearer at :25.) An accomplished, award-winning singer-songwriter and guitarist, the thirty something Rokia was born in Mali as a member of the Bambara ethnic group. She has toured extensively and recorded four albums over the past dozen years, including Mouneïssa (1997 & 1998), Wanita (2000), Bowmboi (2003), and Tchamantché (2008).

The multi-instrumentalist (she also plays flute and percussion) was fortunate to collaborate early in her career with Ali Farka Touré, which helped get her deserved attention. Over the years since, she has worked with a myriad of artists, including the Kronos Quartet, who collaborated with her on her album Bowmboï, released by Nonesuch six years ago. For more information on this artist (including some more music videos), check out her MySpace. And, of course, look for her CDs at Amoeba Music.


Posted by Billyjam, December 24, 2009 03:01pm | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music San Francisco Weekly Hip-Hop Top Ten: 12:24:09
the grouch three eyes off the time
1) The Grouch Three Eyes Off the Time (Legendary Music)

2) Souls of Mischief Montezuma's Revenge (Clear Label)

3) BlakRoc Blakroc  (V2/Cooperative)

4) Messy Marv & Berner Blow (Bern One Ent.)

5) Clipse Til the Casket Drops (SONY)

6) Messy Marv Highly Aggressive (Click Clack Records)

7) Snoop Dogg Malice N Wonderland (Priority/EMI)

8) Young Money We Are Young Money (Cash Money/Universal)

big boy young mess9) Gucci Mane The State vs. Radric Davis (Warner Bros/Asylum)

10) Timbaland Shock Value II (Blackground Records)

The Grouch from the Living Legends crew is back with a banger that went straight to number one on this week's Hip-Hop Top Ten from the Amoeba Music San Francisco store. Thanks to Luis for the chart. Titled Three Eyes Off The Time on Legendary Music, this latest release from The Grouch talks about a variety of subjects, including love in the digital age, which is explored in "The Dangers Of Online Dating." He also continues topics such as fatherhood, explored previously by the emcee on Show You The World. That album, with The Grouch pictured on the cover with his daughter on his shoulder, was released last year. And the profilic emcee, who a few years ago teamed up with Zion I to record an entire album (2006's Heroes In The City Of Dope) has not been idle. Earlier this year, along with Eligh, he released the great collaborative album Say G&E! Unfortunately, Eligh doesn't appear on Three Eyes Off The Time, but others do. Rankin Scroo and Marty James appear on the tracks "Daddy's Home" and "Make Em Think," respectively. And Fashawn and Mistah FAB both cameo on the track "Already," which is only available on this CD version of the album.

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Posted by Billyjam, December 23, 2009 04:06pm | Post a Comment
Messy Marv, aka The Boy Boy Mess
2009 was another good year for Bay Area rap/hip-hop, with a string of new releases dropping over the past twelve months, including the thirty four full-length releases listed below. Appearing in no particular order, these choices are based mainly on releases culled from the Amoeba Music San Francisco Weekly Hip-Hop charts compiled by Luis at the Haight Street store over the past year. Not every single Bay Area hip-hop release is included here (feel free to nominate any worthy omissions in the comments below), but many of them are, and they give a good sense of the vibrant Bay Area music scene for the year of 2009.

Three albums appeared on early 2009 Amoeba Hip-Hop charts but did not make the list below since they technically were each 2008 releases (released late last year):  E40's The Ball Street Journal, released on Sic Wid It and distributed through Warner Brothers; San Quinn's From A Boy To A Man (SMC/Fontana); and Keak da Sneak & San Quinn's Welcome To Scokland on Ehustl, which combined the best of "the Sco" (San Francisco) with the "O" (Oakland) on an album that was extremely popular in the Bay in '09.

North Oakland rapper Mistah F.A.B. may not have released a new solo album in 2009 but he did pop up on countless other artists' releases over the past year, including most recently on The Grouch's just released Three Eyes Off The Time. Mistah F.A.B  appears on the CD track "Mistah F.A.B.Already" with hella popular Fresno emcee Fashawn. F.A.B. also appeared on Fashawn's critically & commercially acclaimed official debut album, following a string of mixtapes, Boy Meets World on Loud, which was a hit at all three Amoebas. Mistah F.A.B. also released joint full-length projects in 2009 with both the Alchemist and Glasses Malone, with whom he unleashed The Sideshow CD.

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Posted by Billyjam, December 22, 2009 02:09pm | Post a Comment

Character actor Arnold Stang, whose long career in radio, television, and the movies included playing oppisite Frank Sinatra in the 1955 film The Man With the Golden Arm and doing the voice of the cartoon Arnold Stangcharacter Top Cat, died of pneumonia Sunday night. He was 91 years of age.  

Diminutive in stature and readily identified by his recognizable mannerisms and trademark heavy glasses, he was a serious actor who ended up playing more comedic roles than sober ones. He once described his image this way: “I look like a frightened chipmunk who’s been out in the rain too long.”

But his distinctive voice alone could carry him, as evidenced in the Top Cat cartoon clip above, in which Stang played the lead character T.C. (Top Cat), the leader of a gang of trouble making New York City alley cats. He effectively played this character, apparantly styled after Phil Silvers, for the 30 episodes of the Hanna-Barbera animated television series that were made in the early sixties and then ran for many years afterwards. In fact, it still runs on TV to this day.

As well as Top Cat, Stang did the voices for numerous other cartoons, including the 1965 film Pinocchio in Outer Space, for which he did the voice of Nurtle the Turtle. In the Otto Preminge-directed Frank Sinatra film The Man With The Golden Arm, a dark tale of heroin addiction, he played the role of Sinatra’s buddy Sparrow. One of the last acting roles Stang played was as the photographer in the 1993 film Dennis The Menace with Walter Matthau.

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