Amoeblog

Saluting Hip-Hop Greats: Gang Starr

Posted by Billyjam, August 21, 2008 01:57pm | Post a Comment
gang starr
(Update: 04/20/10 Guru died at age 43)

Gang Starr, formed back in 1986 and comprised of DJ Premier and emcee Guru, are no longer officially a group -- at least according to Guru in an interview a little while back. But then, who knows if they ever will perform or record together again? A Tribe Called Quest have gotten back together -- more than once -- so maybe Gang Starr will too.

Regardless, the hip-hop duo's rich back catalog is enough to satisfy this hip-hop fan for hours on end. If you don't already have any of the incredible duo's six albums (plus two greatest hits compilations), I suggest you pick up the double CD retrospective Full Clip: A Decade of Gang Starr (originally released in '99) at any of the Amoeba Music stores.

Full Clip is a great starting point, as it  includes all but one ("Arena") of the songs in the six Gang Starr videos begang starr full cliplow, including "Words I Manifest,"  "Step in the Arena," "Mass Appeal," "Who's Gonna Take The Weight?," "Take It Personal," and "DWYCK" featuring Nice & Smooth. Listening back the other day to this 2 CD set from start to finish made me realize not just how amazing Gang Starr's music is, but also how influential their work has been on hip-hop.

And are the videos/songs below a comprehensive best-of Gang Starr? Hells no! Just enough to whet a hip-hopper's appetite.

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RECOGNIZE: BAY AREA FEMALE RAPPERS

Posted by Billyjam, August 20, 2008 10:24am | Post a Comment
Conscious Daughters
Big ups to the female artists in the history of Bay Area hip-hop who, as it seems to be the case with the rest of the rap nation, are (and have always been) in the minority. Why? A variety of reasons-- the main one, in my opinion, is that women can never fare well in a male dominated field that is predominantly (but not exclusively) sexist and misogynist. If you have any strong insights into why you think there is still such a unbalanced female to male rap ratio, please share in the COMMENTS box below where I invite you to also list your favorite female emcees from the Bay Area or elsewhere.

By no means is this post inclusive of the many female hip-hop artists from the Bay; it is merely a salute a select talented few -- both new and old school -- who come to mind, including such old school emcees as 80's East Bay female rapper Cassidine. When she dropped her debut twenty years ago on 75 Girls (the Oakland label run by the Hodges Brothers), she was heralded as the female counterpart to (label mate) Too $hort. Cassidine's album, Man Handler, contains such hardcore tracks as "She Daddy." Unfortunately, the a killer collection of hardcore rhymes and beats from a bygone era in Bay rap has never been re-released. 
Oaktown 3-5-7
Also from 1980's Bay rap is Oaktown 3-5-7, the female rap crew who first came to fame as MC Hammer's backing singers/dancers on tracks such as "Let's Get It Started."  In fact, they performed this song with Hammer and the rest of his large entourage when they made their national debut on the The Arsenio Hall Show. When they released their own music on Hammer's label they enjoyed reasonable success but not enough to keep them from breaking up in 1992. Their 1989 Wild and Loose album was their most successful and made waves on the Billboard pop and black-album charts two decades ago when it spawned the singles "We Like It" and "Juicy Gotcha Krazy" (video below).

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JAMEBLOG TOP TEN: WEEK OF 08:18:08

Posted by Billyjam, August 18, 2008 06:47pm | Post a Comment

Jameoblog Top Ten: 08:18:08

1) Wale - "The Kramer" (10 Deep/elitaste.com)
2) Fatlip - "What Up Fatlip? (Breakbot RMX)" (Delicious Vinyl)
3) NaS "Sly Fox" (Def Jam)
4) KRS-One "Pick It Up" (KOCH)
5) Jean Grae + 9th Wonder - "2-32's"  (Blacksmith)
6) Alltruisms - "Jalopy" (Gravel Records)
7) James Brown - "There Was A Time (Kenny Dope Remix)" (Verve)
8) Paris - "Get Fired Up" (Guerrilla Funk)
9) Girl Talk - "Don't Stop" (Illegal Art)
10) A.G. Cubano feat. The Jacka, San Quinn, & Matt Blaque - "I'm Winnin"  (City RIch/Blackhouse Ent)

On Wale's instantly engaging song "The Kramer," off his recent Nick Catchdubs mixed-Seinfeld themed The Mixtape About Nothing album-length digital download, he jumps head in and addresses the current hip-hop driven cultural use and abuse of the N word and, to a lesser degree, the B word. The Washington DC emcee, whose name is pronounced "Wah-Lay," uses Michael Richards' (aka Kramer on Seinfeld) infamous N word tirade, which he samples at the beginning of the track, as the jumping off point to address society's current use of the N word and its contradicting implications when used by blacks or whites-- specifically the dilemma of white diehard rap fans continually hearing the N word in their favorite music.

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AMOEBA MUSIC WEEKLY HIP-HOP ROUND UP: 08:15:08

Posted by Billyjam, August 15, 2008 07:00am | Post a Comment
AMOEBA MUSIC HOLLYWOOD HIP-HOP TOP FIVE 08:15:08
Elzhi
1)  eLZhi Preface (Fat Beats)

2) Lil Wayne Tha Carter III (Cash Money/Universal)

3) NaS Untitled (Def Jam)

4) Immortal Technique The 3rd World (Viper)

5) Zo! & Tigallo Love the 80's (Hall of Justus Records)


This week's number one seller at the Amoeba Music Hollywood store is the brand new release from longtime bubbling-under Detroit emcee eLZhi (pronounced Els-Eye), who made his introduction to most in the hip-hop world a few years back when he joined Slum Village. Consequently, he has been keepin' active, between touring and appearing here and there on others' releases doing guest shots, including on many records from his Motor City hometown. Many of the Amoeba Hollywood shoppers who made Preface number one this week had no doubt obtained copies earlier this year of elZhi's Europass, his limited edition independently pressed-up CD/ download-able collection, which has won the talented emcee worthy praise from many quarters and also included "Motown 25." But it is the brand new Fat Beats issued Preface that will put eLZhi permanently and deservedly in the hip-hop history annals.
 
Stylistically, eLZhi is a gifted storytelling emcee whose delivery harks back to the more golden age of hip-hop (even the records scratched in are from that classic era in the genre, such as KRS-One) with tales of the hard knock life he has led coming up in Detroit. For samples off the new album and other recordings check out eLZhi MySpace, where you'll hear such great album tracks as "Motown 25," featuring Royce Da 5' 9" and "The Leak" featuring Ayah. Other guests on this recommended new album include A.B., Black Milk, Guilty Simpson, Fatt Father, Danny Brown, Fat Ray, Phat Kat, and Fes Roc.

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FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS & LIVE A FULL LIFE: SUSIE WYSHAK

Posted by Billyjam, August 14, 2008 09:24am | Post a Comment
Susie Wyshak SuperViva.com
Meet Susie Wyshak. She believes in dreams. More importantly, she believes in chasing after and accomplishing those dreams in life. The San Francisco resident thinks that not only should everyone have a concise list of life goals but that they owe it to themselves to nurture and rigidly go after these dreams, no matter how ridiculous or far-fetched they may seem to the rest of the world.

So, being a woman of action, Susie decided to do something about this. A couple of years ago the LA transplant launched her website SuperViva.com where she encourages people to draw up "life lists" (kinda similar to the theme of that recent movie The Bucket List). Her goal is to inspire people to develop their inner goals in life (mostly dreams already in peoples' subconscious-- just not fully hatched & realized) and make a life list of these personal goals, and then one by one go about executing them.

Susie, an Amoeba fan and dedicated music lover (who "grew up during the great 80s punk era" in SoCal) already had her own life list but thought the web would be the perfect place for keeping a long list of ideas and tracking how they are developing: a way for herself and others to stay on track with their life lists by posting updates. When Susie meets people she gives them one of her SuperViva business size cards which encourage people to "LIVE A FULL LIFE" -- her mantra -- and she also invites them to "jot down their top dreams" which she hopes they will do, and perhaps post the results on her site. Recently she did something a little different -- she trekked around the Bay Area to cold interview strangers (a "brainstorming project" is what she called it) and posted the results on her site. I recently caught up with Susie to ask her about SuperViva, her own life goals, and, of course, music.

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