Amoeblog

CHARACTER ACTOR ARNOLD STANG PASSES

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.

AMOEBA MUSIC WEEKLY HIP-HOP ROUND UP: 12:18:09

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 ColbertNation.com. 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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VARIOUS ITEMS IN HIP-HOP FROM THE YEAR 2009 + TOP TEN

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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MILES DAVIS' KIND OF BLUE HONORED BY THE HOUSE

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

HIP-HOP BEHIND BARS: A FIRST PERSON ACCOUNT BY X-RAIDED, PT V

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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