Top Ten Tape Things (Cassette Store Day 2015 list)

Posted by Billyjam, October 17, 2015 02:56pm | Post a Comment

cas·sette k??set/ noun:  a sealed plastic unit containing a length of audiotape, videotape,
film, etc. wound on a pair of spools, for insertion into a recorder or playback device.

Saturday, October 17th: Today iofficially being Cassette Store Day 2015, during which you'll find lots of cassette tape goodies (new, old, reissues) available at Amoeba Music and other participating music retail stores, I could not help but reminisce over that beloved analog format that was once many people's primary source of music listening and sharing. So, off the top of my head, I randomly compiled the following top ten tape things list, encompassing both good and bad things. Meantime be sure to stop into Amoeba Music today, where it is also Super Saturday Sale day, and peep some of the cassettes available including (at Amoeba SF) Jaylib's Champion Sound and Peanut Butter Wolf & Dam-Funk's 45 Minutes Of Funk. Cassette Store Day aside, on any given day the cassette section of Amoeba is well worth a visit as noted in this previous Amoeblog I did after a most rewarding visit to the Amoeba Berkeley store's cassette section.

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Hip-Hop Rap-Up: Breakin' Convention, The Game, Illa J, Masta Ace, Kool Keith, Tyler, The Creator, Run The Jewels + more

Posted by Billyjam, October 15, 2015 09:05pm | Post a Comment

New hip-hop albums at Amoeba include ones from Detroit's Illa J and LA's The Game. West Coast gangsta rap artist The Game has released his follow up to The Documentary from a decade ago in two parts with the brand new The Documentary 2  and The Documentary 2.5. Richly diverse and guest heavy, 2 includes such tracks as "Don't Trip (feat. Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and will i am)," "Circles (feat. Q-Tip, Eric Bellinger, & Sha Sha)," Mula (feat Kanye West), and the incredibly popular pre-album released single "100 (feat. Drake)" (see video below). Meanwhile the second part of the two-part release (October 16th street date) The Documentary 2.5. includes such tracks as "Crenshaw/80s and Cocaine (feat. Anderson Paak & Sonyae), "Gang Bang Anyway (feat Jay Rock & Schoolboy Q),  and "The Ghetto (feat. Nas & will i am)." Another brand new release is the self titled Illa J CD full-length album that is also available in a vinyl LP version thanks to the Bastard Jazz label.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Saint Charles' Solar Music Group (SMG) Promoted Nephew E-40's Mr. Flamboyant on Sick Wid' It

Posted by Billyjam, October 13, 2015 11:23pm | Post a Comment

Back in '91 the above promo one sheet was mailed out to rap radio programmers like myself along with the E-40 and The Click promotional record featuring a radio version of E-40's "Mr. Flamboyant" EP. It was the introduction of radio to the "hot rap group" from Vallejo who would enjoy much success in that decade. The promo items were sent by E-40's uncle Saint Charles who, early on in his career, helped him and his family group The Click get their music out via his regional distributor / promotions company SMG (Solar Music Group). And boy did SMG have all areas of promo locked down as clearly outlined by their letterhead that boasted nationwide promotions "on the streets, in the ghettos, at the parties, in the clubs" as well "in the hood" and at college campuses, distributors, and retailers. The company had it lcovered and 40's uncle was instrumental in getting the rapper and Sick Wid' It Records on the map. In this case it was for the 12" pressing that had the radio version of "Mr. Flamboyant" (as distinct from the dirty "street" version of the song found on the cassette release). ["Mr. Flamboyant" also appeared on The Click album Down & Dirty.]

To assist in finding the song, Saint Charles circled the title on the label with a black sharpie pen - just to ensure no one would miss it. Also on the EP were the tracks "Tanji," "Club Hoppin," and "Shut It Down." Released on Sick Wid' It Records the EP was distributed by Rushforce Records who had in 1988 released the pre-Click lineup M.V.P.  By the time of this Sick WId' It release E-40 solo and the Click as a group had been releasing records and tapes on Sick Wid' It but soonafter each other member of the family crew would drop solo releases including Forty Wata's (and D-Shot's) sister Suga T who, in March 1993 on Sick Wid' It, would release her solo debut It's All Good.

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Interview with Bay Area Hip-Hop Artist Turned Novelist Bret Alexander Sweet on "Among The Veils"

Posted by Billyjam, October 12, 2015 01:30pm | Post a Comment
Bret Alexander Sweet is the Bay Area hip-hop artist turned author who expertly channeled his writing skills as an emcee (Karma with Kemetic Suns, and Fundamentals) into being an accomplished author. This year Alexander Sweet, who works in mentoring inner city youth in entrepreneurship and is the son of prominent Bay Area civil rights attorney and social entrepreneur Clifford Charles Sweet, published his impressive first novel Among The Veils.  With a distinct musical backdrop to its storyline (references songs and musicians throughout) the work of fiction is clearly fueled by Alexander's love and broad knowledge of music. The book is the Oakland, CA resident's first in an ambitious five-part series of publications. Already half completed the author, who graduated from Berkeley High School in 1995, has scheduled the sequel to Among The Veils - to be entitled Sanctuary In The Veils - for a late 2016 planned publication date. 

As a hip-hop artist in the nineties Sweet was a founding member of Kemetic Suns, a member of Fundamentals, as well as founder of the underrated indie label House Kemetic Suns whose releases included the cassette The PatterFall Wars (scroll down to hear). As mentor/teacher Alexander was awarded Certified Teacher of the Year by the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship in 2004 which led to him a few years later founding the Dualism Group whose mission statement he outlined as an, "early stage venture capitalism firm and consulting arm geared toward helping underserved entrepreneurs launch and expand their companies in order to bring jobs to lower income communities."   Recently I caught up with Bret Alexander Sweet to find out more about his book and its inspiration.

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51Oakland's Jason Hofmann Recognizes Correlation Between Public School Arts and Music Programs and Academic Achievement

Posted by Billyjam, October 11, 2015 11:31am | Post a Comment

Despite the numerous studies conducted that unequivocally prove that there is a direct positive correlation between arts and music programs in schools, and improving academic scores and school attendance records for students who participate, music and arts programs in American public schools are constantly under the threat of being cut from their respective district's shrinking school budgets. School districts in cities across the US such as Chicago, Detroit, and Oakland are among those to feel the results of these budget cuts. Viewing them as short-sighted and detrimental to their communities, 51Oakland co-founder Jason Hofmann calls the cuts to the music and art programs criminal. "That there are no art and music programs in the public schools is a crime," said Hofmann who four years ago, with Yoshi Akiba (Yoshi's Jazz club co-owner), co-founded the non-profit 51Oakland organization with the singular goal of bringing music and arts back into the classrooms of the city of Oakland schools. Jason and Yoshi outlined 51Oakland's mission statement as "a funding conduit for inspirational music and arts programs developed by a synergistic partnership of Oakland Unified School District’s (OUSD) principals and teachers, professional musicians and artists and involved community members." 51Oakland has produced its own events and developed programs, as well as teaming up with another similarly themed local non-profit Elevate Oakland that is headed by Sheila E - the accomplished percussionist, singer, former Prince collaborator, and daughter of Pete Escovedo. 

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