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Propaganda Anonymous Talks About His Politically Charged Forthcoming Album Squat The Condos & The Joell Ortiz Tour

Posted by Billyjam, October 17, 2010 03:08pm | Post a Comment

Currently in the third week of a national tour with Joell Ortiz, underground NYC emcee Propaganda Anonymous (aka Prop Anon) is gearing up to drop his musically & politically abrasive new album Squat The Condos in the coming weeks. Recently I caught up with the emcee, whose music is as much inspired by punk rock as hip-hop and who always has some engaging socio-political message to share. I wanted to know about the concept behind Squat The Condos, and how an artist like him, who has shared bills with punk rockers and alternative hip-hoppers in tiny dive bars in NYC, would end up on tour with a more mainstream rap artist like Joell Ortiz.

Of the tour with Joell, which came together via his booking agent, he said, "This type of tour is something new for Joell. It's more of nation wide grind out variety -- the type of stuff that artists like me are used to, but that more industry cats are not usually known for doing. It's a smart move on his part, because there have been cats who have done tours like this, and those MC's have a strong and loyal following now. People like Talib Kweli and Mos Def are two who come to mind. And I've done a number of tours like this, so when they reached out, I knew it would be a good match." 

But he notes that life on the road, while great and truly satisfying, is a lot of serious non-stop work. "I'm working my ass off, as I have three jobs on this tour. I am the opener for Joell. I am the main driver, clocking insane amounts of miles behind the wheel, and I am the tour/road manager," he said, adding that getting on stage every night is one part of the pay off. "It's a good feeling to watch a crowd full of people throw their hands in the air when you are killing it on stage." But how different is his show when he is playing to a more mainstream Joell Ortiz audience vs. playing some small dive club with a mixed punk/hip-hop audience? "My show is not be much different, to be honest. One thing that people who know me as a musician will tell you is that my style is extremely versatile. So, while Squat The Condos has that electro-punk hip-hop feel to it, for the past five years, I've been rhyming to a more traditional hip-hop back beat over at Sin Sin Lounge. I've been doing this for nearly every week for the last five years. Plus, the one rule for rhyming at Sin Sin is that it all has to be from the top of the head. On the last tour I was on, I had to rhyme for a half an hour straight off the top in front of an audience while the headliner was getting ready to come on the stage. The crowd loved it. When I toured the Czech Republic, I rocked many of my verses over those old style 90's boom bap beats and the audience ate it up. So, in other other words, playing to different crowds is not hard for me. And I came up on that ole 90's boom bap shit. I was raised on a healthy diet of that. I've just chosen to make my own sound when I have the chance, but rocking over styles like that is easy for me. And I see Joell's music and his fan base as a positive throw back to those times, so this is not going to be much of a stretch, I don't think."

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Hip-Hop Rap Up 10:15:10: Waka Flocka Flame, Gucci Mane, Z-Trip, Die Antwoord Amoeba Instore, DJ Shortkut's Birthday, Lil Wayne's I Am Not a Human Being & Zion I's Atomic Clock Listening Party

Posted by Billyjam, October 15, 2010 06:16am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music Hollywood Weekly Hip-Hop Top Five Chart: 10:15:10


1) Eminem Recovery (Aftermath, Interscope, Shady)

2)  Skyzoo & Illmind Live From The Tape Deck (Duck Down Music)

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

4) Waka Flocka Flame Flockaveli  (So Icey Ent./Asylum Records)

5) Gucci Mane The Appeal: Georgia's Most Wanted (So Icey Ent./Asylum Records)

New releases on the latest hip-hop top five chart from the Hollywood Amoeba Music store include both Gucci Mane's third & latest (and best) album to date The Appeal: Georgia's Most Wanted and the anticipated debut from Mane's protege, Waka Flocka Flame, which surprisingly does not disappoint. Note this rapper's cameos to date had been kinda lackluster and the subject of much dissing on the Internet. (If you haven't heard it, check out the Shawt Bus Shawty parody that spoofs him, Gucci, etc.) Titled Flockaveli (no doubt in a nod to 2Pac's Makeveli), the 23 year old Waka Flocka Flame (known round the dinner table at home as Juaquin Malphurs) is part of the popular Atlanta based So Icey Boyz (signed to Gucci Mane's So Icey Entertainment) and also is a member of Gucci's Brick Squad. Waka appeared on Gucci Mane's last album, 2009's The State vs. Radric Davis. Also last year he created a buzz with his mixtape Shoot Me Or Salute Me. The title would prove to be darkly ironic considering that the rapper was shot some months later (January this year) in a roadside robbery when he stopped at a car wash on National Highway in GA. 

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Branchage Film Festival Review & Interview with the UK Festival's Philip Ilson & Xanthe Hamilton

Posted by Billyjam, October 13, 2010 06:25pm | Post a Comment

It may only be in its third year but the UK's small and fast growing Branchage Film Festival has already become a guaranteed fun four days that's unlike most other film festivals out there. With an idyllic location in the quaint town of St. Helier on the small island of Jersey in the UK's Channel Islands (off the coast of France), this year's Branchage Film Festival (September 23-26th) offered a richly diverse program that included documentaries, features, animation, and shorts, plus some classic films presented in entirely new ways. In addition to its picture-perfect & historic location, what sets Branchage apart from most other festivals is how it nicely weaves a wealth of live music (as both opening acts to films and/or its soundtrack) into its program. Equally important is how it magically transformed so many of its film screenings by taking them out of the stereotypical cinemas & screening rooms and onto screens in site specific locations in St Helier and around the historic island.

At last year's festival, which was the first time I attended, unique screening locations included Castle at Gorey (picture above) and the German War Tunnels (closer to France than England, the Channel Islands, including neighboring Guernsey, were the only parts of Britain occupied by the Nazis). There were also screenings in churches, something that was repeated this year with such films as Tatsuo Sato's Japanese anime Cat Soup, which was screened in All Saints Church (a functional church on loan at no coast from the Methodists). Japanese psych-metal group Bo Ningen replaced the original score of this gory 2001 animation with an amazing new score that went from quiet, soothing hushes to crazy wild n'loud screeching guitar and vocals. This year's other novel locations included the screening of Superman at a dam and The Battleship Potemkin on the deck of a tugboat in the St. Helier Harbour with an ever engaging live soundtrack provided by French electronic duo Zombie Zombie, who, as Branchage creative director Xanthe Hamilton told me with a delighted chuckle,"had sailed in from France to do their set." Truly this is a special kind of film festival.

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Uncle Jamm's Army's Rodger Clayton, RIP

Posted by Billyjam, October 11, 2010 01:52pm | Post a Comment

Last night hip-hop lost another legend when Rodger Clayton, co-founder of LA's legendary Uncle Jamm's Army, passed following a heart attack. Uncle Jamm's Army was an extended collective of LA promoters, DJs, producers & emcees that Clayton (aka Mr. Prinze), along with Gid Martin,  took to wide fame. Back in the early 80's they would stage huge DJ parties at places like the Los Angeles Sports Arena where they would pack in five to ten thousand people. During the 1980's Clayton and the Army reigned supreme on the West Coast, even beyond playing hip-hop -- they specializing in electro-hop, a direct descendant of New York's electro old school hip-hop (a la Afrika Bambaataa).

Officially active during the years 1984 to 1988, the nexus of the group dated back to 1978 when Clayton and Martin initially formed Unique Dream Entertainment. Five years later the Clayton-led group had morphed into the regionally popular Uncle Jamm's Army with the music mastermind wisely enlisting many talented up-and-coming hip-hop emcees and DJs to flesh out the ranks and ensure popularity with a growing audience for hip-hop. This extended lineup featured such notable members as the pre-gangsta rap Ice-T, his DJ partner Chris "The Glove" Taylor, the Egyptian Lover, the Unknown DJ, and many later LA rap luminaries including DJ Pooh and DJ Battlecat.


Uncle Jamm's Army "Dial A Freak" (1984)

Big fans of funkateer George Clinton, the name Clayton and company chose was a direct nod to Funkadelic's 1979 album Uncle Jam Wants You. And, like the typically flamboyant Clinton led P-Funk ensembles, known for their wild onstage attire, Uncle Jamm's Army would also wear costumes onstage, although usually not as brightly colorful, instead favoring green army fatigues. Tapping into Clayton's promotional skills and wisely bringing name rap acts out from New York like Kurtis Blow, Run DMC and Whodini, the Uncle Jamm's Army parties became a phenomenon, attracting thousands of people to large auditorium and stadium scale venues like the Richmond Auditorium up north in the Bay Area. Luckily, I caught one of their gigs there, around when the crew's Egyptian Lover's "My Beat Goes Boom"/"What Is a DJ If He Can't Scratch" was a big hit. In the early days their LA parties were typically roller skate events, sponsored in part by stations KGFJ and KDAY, where the DJs would spin funk records like Zapp's "Doo Wa Ditty." By a certain point, Uncle Jamm's Army's name alone was enough of a draw. Of course, having their own records out that were radio hits only helped increase these crowds.

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Solomon Burke, en Route to Dutch Concert, Died Today in Schiphol Airport Near Amsterdam

Posted by Billyjam, October 10, 2010 08:15am | Post a Comment
Solomon Burke
He had just gotten off a flight from LA at Schiphol Airport near Amsterdam in the Netherlands today when Solomon Burke, the self-proclaimed "king of rock and soul," was pronounced dead. While the actual cause of death has not been officially announced so far, reportedly the 70 year old soul singer had a heart attack on the plane and could not be resuscitated. 

Burke, whose hits included "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" (see great 2003 concert footage below of him doing this song from his famous throne), was scheduled to perform in Amsterdam on Tuesday with the Dutch rock band De Dijk. He was also set to launch their collaborative album, Hold On Tight, which would have been his second album out this year. Burke, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, released his first album for Atlantic Records in 1962, wittily entitled Solomon Burke's Greatest Hits.

One of the most memorable events of his career was a run in with the Ku Klux Klan. Due to his country style hits at the time and never having seen him, they mistakenly believed that he was a white singer and booked Burke to entertain at one of their rallies. This he did, and amazingly, not only did he not get attacked, he was also a big hit at the event. Burke's vocal styles included country but were mainly soul, gospel, blues, and rock and during his illustrious career he released about 40 albums and continued working up until his sudden death today. He played two incredible instores at Amoeba back in 2005 that will never be forgotten by all those who attended. Rest In Peace, Solomon Burke.

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