Posted by Billyjam, December 18, 2009 07:07am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music Hollywood Weekly Hip-Hop Top Five Chart: 12:18:09

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

2) BlakRoc Blakroc (V2/Cooperative)

3) Clipse Til the Casket Drops (SONY)

4) Timbaland Shock Value II (Blackground Records)

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

Snoop Dogg went straight to number one this week on both the Billboard 200 chart and the new Amoeba Music Hollywood Hip-Hop Chart with his tenth and latest solo outing, the 14 track Malice N Wonderland. He first arrived on the rap world back in 1992, when he premiered on the title track of the Dr Dre produced Deep Cover soundtrack and later that same year on Dre's landmark The Chronic album. Ever since then, Snoop (who dropped the "Doggy" part of his name some time back) has become more than merely a prolific rapper recording a string of solo singles and albums, in addition to making countless cameos on other peoples' records. He has also become a movie and television star and a pop culture icon -- not to mention a controversial figure often getting into trouble with the law, incidents that collectively resulted in him getting legally banned from the UK and Australia. Now that's gangsta!

Snoop is also a notorious weed smoker and earlier this week in his entertaining appearance on the Stephen Colbert Show on Comedy Central, when quizzed about his 420 habit he assured the host that it was prescribed "medical marijuana." "Who's your doctor, Dr. Dre?" shot back Colbert, without missing a beat, to loud laughter. If you missed this great Colbert episode, that also included Snoop doing a song plus a funny soap opera reading with Colbert, go back and check it out on But stoner or no stoner, the ever active Snoop recently added the title of business executive to his resume when EMI hired him as the chairman of the recently reactivated Priority Records on which Malice N Wonderland appears with distribution through EMI. The new album's lead single, "Gangsta Luv," is produced by and features The Dream, who is just one of Malice's many guest contributors. Brandy and Pharrell cameo on "Special," while Souja Boy Tell Em appears on "Pronto," and Lil Jon joins Snoop on the track that he also produced, "1800." Other producers include the Neptunes, Battlecat, and Scoop DeVille, who produced "I Wanna Rock" -- a track that was mixed by Snoop's original mentor Dr Dre. In addition to the album Malice N Wonderland, Snoop also made an accompanying mini-movie of the same name, a la his 1994 short film/soundtrack Murder Was the Case. A trailer for this short film follows immediately below.

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Posted by Billyjam, December 16, 2009 09:50pm | Post a Comment
El Michels Affair, Wu Tang
I don't know about you, but 2009 zipped by for me, although not without making its mark in terms of music being recorded and released, and also in terms of music news being made. 2009 was a good year for hip-hop. In sports hip-hop was more present than ever, with Jay Z and Alicia Keys performing in New York at the World Series, and the Oakland hip-hop group the High Decibels' music being featured in a beer ad during the SuperBowl and in consequent football games. It was a year when the Wu-Tang crew were omnipresent, it seems, both individually and also with their music being replayed or remixed by others (inc. El Michels Affair). It was also a year when Brooklyn rapper Sean Price was seemingly everywhere -- popping up in cameos on a multitude of other folks' releases and releasing his own great mix CD.
Themselves, Anticon
2009 was the year when Wale finally released his official debut album. It was also a year when the line between mixtape CDs and actual albums released on CD got very blurred. Artists who released both a mixtape CD and an official album in 2009 included Anticon duo Themselves. 2009 was also the year when, thankfully, use of the Auto-Tune technology decreased substantially. With his song "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)," Jay-Z may have helped speed up the process of its inevitable passing.  Below is a list of hip-hop and related music items from the past twelve months that caught my attention. Also below (scroll all the way down) is my list of Top Ten releases from 2009 that I really enjoyed.

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Posted by Billyjam, December 15, 2009 12:16pm | Post a Comment
Miles Davis Kind of Blue
As reported by the Associated Press (AP), Washington has decided to commemorate jazz great Miles Davis' album Kind of Blue. The House voted (409 to 0) yesterday to honor the landmark fifty year old recording's contribution to the genre. Kind of Blue, originally released by Columbia Records in August 1959, featured Davis along with saxophonists John Coltrane and Julian ''Cannonball'' Adderley, pianists Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb.

Michigan Democrat Rep. John Conyers, who sponsored the measure, said that Davis and the other album contributors ''made musical history and changed the artistic landscape of this country and in some ways the world.'' Indeed, the album's influence has been far reaching, influencing all types of music far beyond just jazz, including Latin, rock and hip-hop. And over the years many musicians have done their renditions or reinterpretations of Kind of Blue, including Portland, OR blip artist Andy Baio, who earlier this year recorded an inspired 8-Bit reinterpretation of the album that he retitled Kind Of Bloop.

Below is a video honoring Kind of Blue's fiftieth anniversary made in conjunction with Legacy Recordings' recent releasing of the album's Collector's Edition Box set which is available at Amoeba Music. 

Miles Davis - Kind of Blue 50th Anniversary


Posted by Billyjam, December 14, 2009 08:08am | Post a Comment

Today we have the latest in the ongoing series by guest Amoeblog contributor, incarcerated Sacramento hip-hop artist Anerae "X-Raided" Brown. Here, he continues a topic that he began in a previous Amoeblog about the creative process in prison.

In the previously published first part he wrote about the fact that incarcerated individuals sometimes have an advantage when it comes to being creative because they can focus more easily on their art due to lack of distractions. In this second piece on the same topic, he writes about the importance of certain programs for inmates and one in particular that was cut some years back due to the state's budget crisis. As you know, California's budget crisis has only worsened in recent times and those in the prison system, where things are already chronically overcrowded, are feeling the crunch most.

The Creative Process in Prison, Part Two: by Anerae "X-Raided" Brown

art class in prison

Once upon a time, before California's well documented budget crisis, before the California Department of Corrections indisingeniously added "Rehabilitation" to their name, there existed a program titled Arts in Corrections. For this program, so called Free-Staff, often unpaid citizens that volunteered their time and expertise, would come into institutions to teach inmates such skills as how to play musical instruments, how to paint, or draw, or bead, and many other crafts and hobbies that would allow interested inmates to occupy their time in productive ways. And oftentimes Free Staff would learn a thing or two from random exceptionally talented inmates.       

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Posted by Billyjam, December 11, 2009 07:07am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music Berkeley Weekly Hip-Hop Top Five: 12:11:09
Souls of Mischief
1) Souls of Mischief Montezuma's Revenge (Clear Label Records)

2) FELT FELT 3: A Tribute to Rosie Perez (Rhymesayers)

3) Wu-Tang Meet the Indie Culture, Vol. 2: Enter The Dubstep... (Ihiphop Distribution)

4) Black Eyed Peas The E.N.D. (Interscope)

5) Aesop Fables Living The Dream While Awake  (Weed Tracker Music)

Shout out to Inti at Amoeba Music Berkeley for this week's Hip-Hop Top Five chart which finds a local hip-hop crew on top, Oakland's Souls of Mischief and their first new studio album in a decade, the Prince Paul produced Montezuma's Revenge on Clear Label Records. The new album also includes production input from Domino (responsible for their amazing debut 93 Til Infinity). The four emcees, A-Plus, Phesto, Opio and Tajai, are in top notch form here. And, not surprisingly, these diehard Hieroglyphics members, who dropped their debut sixteen long years ago when they were still teenagers, have matured quite a bit, all the while keeping that Hiero/Souls flavor that made them so endearing in the Rosie Perez, Feltfirst place. It sounds like veteran yet ever-envelope pushing producer Prince Paul got the best of out of the crew, as witnessed on standout songs such as "Home Game," "Postal," "Proper Aim," and "Dead Man Walking." Also, Prince Paul can be credited with creating a cohesive album (complete with skits, of course) that deserves listening to in its entirety -- the way albums used to be.

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