Posted by Billyjam, October 23, 2009 08:08am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music Hollywood Hip-Hop Top Five: 10:23:09
1) Fashawn Boy Meets World (Loud)

2) Jay Z Blueprint 3 Roc Nation/Atlantic

3) Royce Da 5'9' Street Hop (Mic One/TVT)

4) Cormega Born And Raised (Traffic Ent.)

5) Drake So Far Gone (Cash Money)

5) Raekwon Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Pt. 2 (ICEAL)

In the number one hip-hop sales slot at the Hollywood Amoeba Music this week is the brand new, rightfully anticiapted album from West Coast newcomer Fashawn, who both released his debut album, Boy Meets World, and turned 21 this week. Congrats to him on both accomplishments. Fashawn is a Fresno, California emcee, whose album is produced entirely by Exile (of Blu & Exile) and who already has about seven mixtapes to his name. He may be young, but he is deservedly getting major props from critics, fans and bloggers, who have all been anxiously awaiting this debut. Some are even going so far as to say that with this release Fashawn willl help rescue West Coast rap and put it back on top again. With a flow that has a distinctive nod to some of rap's best bygone years, the album's fifteen tracks include such standouts as "Our Way," featuring a guest spot by Evidence; “Samsonite Man;” "Bo Jackson," featuring producer Exile on the mic as well as behind the mixing board; and "Sunny CA," featuring Coss & Mistah Fab. The video for "Sunny CA" is below.

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Posted by Billyjam, October 22, 2009 05:00pm | Post a Comment

One of the greatest cultural tragedies in the history of Bay Area music is the way an entire musical scene or movement was literally wiped out, and all ironically in the name of "development" and "progress." The music was the blues and the (once very vibrant) place was West Oakland, in the area on and surrounding 7th Street. Now simply known as the area where the main Oakland Post Office and the West Oakland BART station, along with its overhead tracks and its extended parking lot sit, this was once ground zero for the blues on the West Coast. But tragically, from the 1960's into the 1970's "developers" bought out and displaced nearly all of the clubs, venues and homes to build the BART and the area's vibrant music scene was put to sleep forever. Above is the Amoeblog interview with longtime Oakland resident and blues and r&b fan Buck on this tragic topic, that at its core was a function of racism in that it displaced a minority community who at the time had little political power to help fight to save their cultural scene.

A little reported on part of Bay Area history, one of the few places that you can read about the death of the blues in Oakland is in Ishmael Reed's recommended Blues City publication from five years ago in the Crown Journey published series where authors walk their city and report on its streets and inhabitants, weaving in its history en route. Toward the end of Reed's wonderful book he encounters Ronnie Stewart of the Bay Area Blues Society and allows him to vent and educate on this tragic slice of Bay Area history. Among the many nuggets of history emparted by Stewart, "Seventh Street between Wood and Center Streets, Pine Street, Henry Street, and Campbell Street were full of blues. You had the Reno Club and Miss Essie's Place, a very popular club on Wood and Seventh Streets. Essie had hamburgers and a jukebox and every now and then she'd put a band in there. They had black and white clubs, segregated, but lined up one next to the other. Then they had Pearl Harbor Liquor, which had a jukebox. See, back in those days, there was a whole culture of jukeboxes. They played nothing but blues. One outstanding musician was Saunders King. He played guitar, and he was raised on Seventh Street. He had his first hit back in 1942 and his daughter Deborah [was married to Carlos Santana for 34 years]. He was extremely important in the development of the Oakland blues; the reason the Oakland scene was so popular was because [of] people like Saunders King and Bob Geddins [a songwriter, producer, and arranger]. Geddins owned three or four record labels and was the first African-American to own one. He owned Big Town Records and Uptown Records. He recorded Jimmy McCracklin, Johnny Hartsman, Lowell Fulson, Roy Hawkins. He even recorded 'The Thrill Is Gone' but Modern Records ripped him off for that. It ended up being the biggest hit of B.B. King's career. That came out of Oakland in 1949."

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Posted by Billyjam, October 21, 2009 06:31pm | Post a Comment

Last night fellow Bay Area to New York transplant & former KALX  DJ Pal 58 and I were pleasantly surprised attending the Future is Frank Frank Radio CMJ Music Marathon showcase at Southpaw in Brooklyn. We caught an unannounced set by the original line up of legendary hip-hop crew Brand Nubian! Original member Grand Puba was announced in advance as one of the night's performers, along with an already impressive line-up that included Wu-Tang's U-God, Wiz Khalifa, and DJ/MC Jasmine Solano. Another surprise last minute performer was Baltimore's Spank Rock. But it was New Rochelle, NY hip-hop legends Brand Nubian -- rounded out by the other two original members Sadat X and Lord Jamar -- who stole the show with a set that included many of their hits and was nicely wrapped up with Grand Puba stopping to make a wonderful heartfelt speech about how much hip-hop means to him, and has always meant to him. He warned the audience to not become complacent now that Barack Obama is in office. The struggle, especially for African Americans, is still very much alive and well, he stressed. He also noted how hip-hop music has always been a vehicle for inspiring positve change in his community, rather than merely a tool to acquire fame and riches. Refreshing stuff to hear and witness during this annual New York music conBrand Nubianference overflowing with acts, generally speaking, whose hunger for fame far outweighs anything else.
Brand Nubian arrived during hip-hop's so-called "golden age" (late 80's/early 90's) and pretty much personified that oft-romanticized era in hip-hop. It was the period immediately before gangsta-rap had fully crossed over to dominate the pop-rap landscape and a time when conscious, thought-provoking and at times politically controversial, but generally well-intentioned and uplifting lyrics, all delivered over head-bobbing, funky beats & grooves, were the norm. DJ Alamo was their fourth member and when Grand Puba split the group early on the two left together. Twelve years ago Brand Nubian's original members got back together, and two years ago the three emcees began doing a series of select dates in support of their long-shelved, decade old album Time's Runnin' Out, which finally saw the light of day.

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Posted by Billyjam, October 20, 2009 06:22pm | Post a Comment
Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga

Back in February of this year when the Amoeblog, in celebration of Black History Month, featured a series of blogs about various aspects of black culture, I invited long incarcerated rapper Anerae “X-Raided” Brown to participate in the series. Brown, who has been behind bars for over half his lifetime, did this in two parts: in both the form of an Amoeblog interview and also via an in depth essay he wrote under the title Black History Month: A Convict's Perspective.

Like everything else Brown writes, from his lyrics to his still to be published autobiography to the guest articles he has penned for Murder Dog rap magazine, X-Raided's writing is always articulate and X-Raidedinformative. Furthermore, it provides an insight into a world that most of us, thankfully, will never have to enter. Brown has been incarcerated since age 17 on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder -- he never killed anyone but was young and foolish enough, he readily admits, to have been caught up in the gang lifestyle, and to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I have known the 34 year old Brown since he was first incarcerated. Initially I got to know him as a journalist reporting on him and his rap career, something he incredibly has managed to maintain from behind bars over the years (he just released his latest, The Unforgiven Vol. 2, three weeks ago). But as the years progressed he has become a friend and someone I admire for maintaining both his sanity and creativity all the while being locked in the pen. If you have ever been behind bars or if you have ever visited anyone in jail or prison you have an idea of how horrible it is to be incarcerated.

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Posted by Billyjam, October 19, 2009 03:24pm | Post a Comment
Kind of Bloop
Done out of pure reverence for the great late Miles Davis,  musician Andy Baio  recorded an inspired 8-Bit reinterpretation of Davis' jazz classic Kind of Blue, in recent months. Aptly titled Kind Of Bloop, journalist/musician Baio writes of the inspired composition on his blog, "I've always wondered what chiptune jazz covers would sound like. What would the jazz masters sound like on a Nintendo Entertainment System? Coltrane on a C-64? Mingus on Amiga?"

Baio says that in his extensive research of such jazz classic 8-Bit covers he was only able to find four jazz covers ever released: ast0r's version of Coltrane's Giant Steps and Charlie Parker's Confirmation, Sergeeo's own Giant Steps cover, and Bun's version of Coltrane's My Favorite Things.

Portland, OR based Baio, who describes himself as a journalist/programmer and the CTO of Kickstarter, then invited the aforementioned Ast0r and Sergeeo, along with the chiptune artists Virt, Shnabubula, and Disasterpeace, to collaborate with him on a track-by-track remake of the classic Miles Davis album. The Amoeblog recently caught up with Baio to ask him about the project and the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.kind of blue

Amoeblog: How did you first get the idea to reinterpret Kind of Blue?

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