Amoeblog

1988: In celebration of the year 1988 in hip-hop.

Posted by Billyjam, May 9, 2008 09:06am | Post a Comment

Today I invite you to join me and others in celebrating the year 1988: a time widely considered to be the peak of the so-called "golden era" in hip-hop's relatively short history. In addition to this Amoeblog on 1988 I have also written another blog today on the same subject on WFMU's blog -- the website of the radio station where I do a weekly show entitled "Put The Needle On The Record."  And coincidentally, today's (Friday May 9th) program will be titled "1988" and will celebrate the same topic with lots of music from that year being played plus lots of discussion about that era in hip hop history.

It airs 3PM to 6PM (noon - 3PM PST) on 91.1FM and can be heard, either live or in later archives, online here. Joining me in the studio will be the hip-hop authors  Michael A Gonzales and Marcus Reeves who have also penned blogs on 1988. Read Michael's 1988 blog on his Blackadelicpop blog and another collaborator Miles Marshell Lewis' 1988 blog and scroll down to the end of this Amoeblog for links to other bloggers' 1988 essays. These will include many of the other scheduled participants in today's radio show including Bill Adler, Lisa Cortes, Todd Craig,  Serena Kim, and Steve Fleming.



For this Amoeblog on 1988 I want to make note of some of the many releases that dropped that year, mention some noteworthy events, plus include some hip-hop videos from that year. For me personally 1988 was a great year. I was a DJ on three Bay Area radio stations including KALX, where I played hip-hop and had just begun my writing career for a San Francisco newspaper. That same year I met the guys who had started a promising new magazine called The Source and by the following year I would be writing for their new hip-hop mag about Bay Area rap.  And there was lots of exciting Bay Area rap being released back in '88 -- mostly independently released cassettes and 12" singles -- including San Francisco's All Ready Fresh "2" who dropped their single "Sucker Butts," SF's Super Macks, who released the super hero themed single "Super Mack's In Effect," and Milpitas' Chris & Ray (neighbors of a young Peanut Butter Wolf) released their single "U Don't Walk U Run." There was also San Francisco's Thermo feat. The Waimea Bass, who released "Chillin' At Ocean Beach," Digital Underground, who dropped their first single "Your Life's A Cartoon"/"Underwater Rimes" on TNT/Macola, and the Vallejo group MVP (later to morph into The Click) who released an EP on Rushforce Records.

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HIP-HOP IS ALIVE AND WELL: BILLY JAM'S WEEKLY HIP-HOP ROUND UP

Posted by Billyjam, May 8, 2008 06:00pm | Post a Comment

As proven by the entries on the new Top Five Hip-Hop Charts from each of the three Amoeba Music locations (Berkeley, SF, Hollywood -- charts below by Tunde, Jason Chavez, & Marques Newson) hip-hop is very much alive and well. 

Not only that, but hip-hop, a genre known for its high turnover and tendency for chewing up and spitting out artists after a short shelf life, is instead demonstrating love for several longtime hip-hoppers with new releases. 

These include Prodigy, who started out rapping with Mobb Deep potna Havoc two long decades ago, The Roots, who've just dropped their ninth album, and E40 who is celebrating twenty years as a rap recording artist and just released the new Sick Wid It Umbrella: The Complete Second Season rap compilation with its appropriate Sopranos styled cover.

The Roots, who just get better and better as time evolves, have just released their ninth album Rising    Down. It's their eight studio album and second for Def Jam, and it's in big demand with music fans. The  Philadelphia based hip-hop band, who tore shit up September '06 at their Amoeba Hollywood instore, is the number one seller at both the LA Amoeba and at Berkeley, while in SF it is a close second to Atmosphere (another longtime hip-hop artist).  Following The Roots' Game Theory album in 2006, the new album culls its title, presumably, from the William T. Vollmann's book Rising Up and Rising Down: Some Thoughts on Violence, Freedom and Urgent Means, published in 2004. Rising Down features numerous cameos and guest shots ,including Mos Def, Styles P, Talib Kweli, and Common.

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MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO'S JACK DANGERS LOOKS BACK AT 20+ YEARS

Posted by Billyjam, May 7, 2008 10:06am | Post a Comment

Twenty-two years later Jack Dangers, the UK born/ Bay Area based musician best known as front person for the group Meat Beat Manifesto, is still recording and releasing relevant music.  In addition to the recently released tenth studio Meat Beat Manifesto (MBM) album Autoimmune on Metropolis, Dangers has also just released a new solo project titled Music For Planetarium -- a limited edition release on Brainwashed. To help spread the word on both releases, Dangers and MBM (including Ben Stokes with whom he also collaborates under the name Tino Corp) just wrapped up their current US tour in the past couple of days. I caught up with them when they played the Highline Ballroom in New York about a week ago. The current MBM lineup includes Dangers, Ben Stokes, Mark Pistel and Lynn Farmer (on live drum kit set up).

Considering it is now 21 years since MBM's debut and 22 years since his original band, Perennial Divide, released their debut, and also considering that most other industrial or techno or ambient acts (all genres that Dangers' music has been labeled over the years) are no longer still making music, I asked Dangers what was the secret to MBM's and his longevity as an artist?  "The main thing is not to conform, not to follow what looks like the thing to do," he said. "It is important not to follow trends but just to be yourself. That is the main ingredient."

I asked Dangers about early in his career and his relationship to Andy Partridge and how it was exactly that the XTC member had helped him get started in his music career. Dangers replied that he first met Partridge back in 1981 in the small South Western English town of Swindon they both hail from. "I got an intern job at the Uni recording studio (in Swindon) and got to see XTC rehearse for their English Settlement tour," he recalled, adding that the XTC tour got cut short after just nine dates. "Andy pretty much knocked it on the head and didn't want to do any live performances after that." But several years later, in 1986, Andy Partridge would work with Dangers and his first band Perennial Divide when he produced their Beehead EP -- released in 1987 on Sweat Box.

Dangers first visited the US in 1989 and ended up moving Stateside, settling in the Bay Area's Mill Valley in 1994. I asked him how relocating from Swindon to Marin County came about. "I was doing a lot of work with (Bay Area groups) Consolidated and Disposable Heroes of Hipocrisy in the early nineties," he recalled, adding that during that time period he, "Later met my future wife at SF Civic Center at a benefit for In Defense of Animals. And that was the main reason I moved over." He had also crossed paths with Ben Stokes, with whom he would forge a long-standing creative relationship. In concert, Stokes works his magic on the video sampling technology and when he is not on tour with Dangers, he is doing video production for DJ Shadow's tours (solo and with Cut Chemist).

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TODD HAYNES' "I'M NOT THERE" AVAILABLE ON 2 DVD SET

Posted by Billyjam, May 6, 2008 07:55am | Post a Comment


Even non-Bob Dylan fans should enjoy Todd Haynes' unorthodox and loosely structured Zimmerman biopic I'm Not There (out today on DVD) that fluidly captures the many sides of Bob Dylan with six actors each portraying the various
slices of the life of the celebrated singer-songwriter from his early folk days through his much- publicized electric crossover stage and beyond. Even if you saw this film last year on the big screen, be sure to check it out on the newly issued 2 disc DVD version which includes audio commentary by director/co-writer Todd Haynes.

Actors who loosely play variations of Dylan include Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Richard Gere,
Ben Whishaw and the young Marcus Carl Franklin, as an eleven year old who calls himself Woody Guthrie -- all of whom are complimented by a flawless ensemble that include the Joan Baez- styled character played by Julianne Moore and David Cross' inspired turn as Allen Ginsberg (see clip above with the Blanchett- portrayed Dylan).

As a Dylan fan, what moved me even more than I'm Not There's subject matter was how Haynes so beautifully structured this heartfelt tribute to the artist, effortlessly shifting from one Dylan incarnation and stage of his illustrious career into the next. Truly amazing film-making!  My bet is that we will be seeing many future biopics that adapt this same unique approach pioneered by Haynes.

MOCHIPET (DALY CITY RECORDS) AMOEBLOG INTERVIEW

Posted by Billyjam, May 5, 2008 02:06pm | Post a Comment

AMOEBLOG:
I've heard many descriptions of your music, but how do you describe the music you make?

MOCHIPET: I like to think of my music as "experimental music," but more in a sense that I am always experimenting with new sounds and ideas. Not necessarily sounds that are new to the human ear, but sounds that are always new to mine. I used to try and always make sounds that no one has ever heard before but then I realized it doesn't matter if anyone else has heard it. It only matters if I had. Other people like to call my music. IDM, Glitch, Breakcore, etc etc..  But I just make music.

AMOEBLOG: According to the liner notes, your new album, Microphonepet , was recorded over a five year span but you don't give years for each track. In which years were most of the tracks recorded?

MOCHIPET: Yes, the songs were all spaced out and recorded over the past five years. I have always enjoyed making hip hop beats and collaborating with MC's. However, I never had enough for a full album, because it was not the only thing I did. But recently I had a chance to finish up these songs and compile them into a LP. The newest ones were "Girls and Boys and Toys" with Jahcoozi, "Banna Split" with Bicasso of Living Legends and E Da Boss, "Mr. Malase" (featuring Casual of Hieroglyphics, Dopestyle, and Humanbeings), and "Take You Down" (featuring Sindri andTaiwankid). The oldest one is probably "The Graduate" (featuring Dubphonics). The older ones were generally more sample based while the newer ones were more glitch and synth based.

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