Earlier this year tireless longtime fighter for justice and equality for all the Reverend Billy Talen (of the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir), who had adopted the Black Lives Matter cause after being outraged over the treatment by police of African Americans in incidents such as Mike Brown in Ferguson, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, NY, organized a peaceful protest in Grand Central Station. There the longtime NYC based Talen, who spent earlier years of his life in Northern California, was midway into his #BlackLivesMatter speech/sermon he got arrested by the NYC MTA police. The arrest came in hour 18 of the planned 24 hour vigil / peaceful protest in the iconic train station in central Manhattan. You can see this January 5th 2015 arrest take place in a play by play recording in the revelatory video clip shown below (left is a screen shot still from the same video). In the clip you can clearly hear the police say 'stop resisting arrest' while simultaneously clearly see Talen not resisting one iota. Then you see him get hauled off to jail where he spent that night. The next morning, upon release from jail, he found out that the charges against him by the MTA police division were that he "physically attacked" a police officer. "I did not touch anybody. I am trained in non-violence. I was simply arrested while I was speaking and taken away," he said later adding that, "They think that they can just say anything about anybody and get away with it."
New releases to arrive at Amoeba this week include the technically soul - but with a hip-hop flavor - brand new album from prolific and diverse Seattle hip-hop producer Jake One along with blue-eyed soul singer Mayer Hawthorne entitled Tuxedo via Stones Throw Records. Tuxedo is also the band name of these two collaborating talents' alter egos who, as Aquarius (Mayer Hawthorne) and Taurus (Jake One) are dressed up in tuxedos - looking somewhat reminiscent of Dan the Automator and Prince Paul as the Handsome Boy Modeling School – and presented by the label headed by Peanut Butter Wolf (a man known to dress up himself) as descendants of the one- word moniker family of funk, where you will find groups such as Chic, Shalamar, Plush, and Zapp. For a better idea of Tuxedo's infectious retro dance grooves peep their video for the album track "Do It" (scroll down) and pick up their album available in CD, vinyl, and digital download formats.
On the powerful new track "It's Hard Out Here For A Gimp" - found on the just released WheelGrabbers self-titled album - Denver emcee and front-person of Wheelchair Sports Camp, Kalyn Heffernan holds no punches. Over the song's head-nodding beats she unleashes a litany of witty reactionary rhymes to a lifetime of being treated like some freak. This she ably does via enlightening engaging lyrics that, while consistently hard-hitting, are all good humored and never mean-spirited. "No matter where I go, all eyes on me. Everyone stop what you're doing; the human's movin'" - raps the wheelchair using, three and a half foot tall woman, who has the brittle-bone disability Osteogenesis Imperfecta - three factors of her life that total strangers will unabashedly bring up upon crossing paths with her. "They're God blessin' me and I didn't even sneeze. On their knees questioning me excessively. Wanna know my life expectancy. Like it doesn't get to me?" she rhymes while exposing the less than tactful questions posed by the parade of patronizing people that she encounters on a daily basis out in public.
When they arrived on the hip-hop scene in the early 1980's Run-D.M.C. distinguished themselves as the leaders of the new school of rap music. This claim by the Hollis, Queens, NY trio comprised of Joseph "Run" Simmons, Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels, and Jason "Jam-Master Jay" Mizell was truly justified by the unique group who would be perhaps the most influential group of the genre with their hardcore rap sound. With 1984's self-titled debut on Profile Records and its follow-up; 1985's King of Rock, Run DMC were already hugely popular with fans of the then still burgeoning hip-hop music genre but it was 1986's Raising Hell their third album that proved to be their breakthrough, crossover release. Raising Hell won them a whole wave of new fans - many of whom up until this point had dismissed rap as mere novelty and passing fad in pop music. Run DMC's updated rock/rap version of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" deserves much of the credit for breaking Run DMC (and rap/hip-hop along with it) into the mainstream. The conversion of the average mid eighties hard rock fan, who up to this stage was still resistant to rap because they saw it as a derivative of the then stigmatized genre of disco, went to Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith who joined on them on both the record and in the influential music video of "Walk This Way." The result was an inspired updated rap rendition of an already great rock song.