During last year's San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (SFJFF), the curators of the festival presented by the Jewish Film Institute dedicated a whole event to "the original American Jewish rappers" the Beastie Boys. The music theme continues this year during the 35th annual 2015 SF JFF (July 23 to August 9th) when among the screenings will be the California premiere of the documentary on the tumultuous life and death of Adam Goldstein (better known as the late DJ AM) entitled As I AM: The Life and Times of DJ AM. The bio-documentary tells the bittersweet tale of the life of the DJ/remixer/producer/musician's rise to fame as superstar DJ on the Vegas strip, his early tireless, crate digging days, his underground club DJing days in LA in the '90s, his self-destructive substance abuse problems that he had put behind him, and his later membership of both Crazy Town and of TRV$DJAM along with Travis Barker.
Never one to back down or shy aware from controversy, outspoken veteran Bay Area rapper Paris continues to stay true to both his revolutionary rap style and his core political beliefs. The controversial artist, who famously got dropped by his record label over political content early on in his career and has since stayed true to his often unpopular convictions, announced that September 11, 2015 will be the release date of his newest politically charged hip-hop album, Pistol Politics.
9/11 and what it symbolizes has been a topic close to Paris's heart since the history-changing 2001 event, and one that he has openly questioned in his music, being among the few hip-hop artists to label 9/11 an inside job. On his 2003 album Sonic Jihad, which showed on its original cover art a plane crashing into the Pentagon, he featured the "truth" music track "What Would You Do" (see video below) that addressed his theories on 9/11 as well as the Illuminati's agenda, asking listeners "Would you stand up for truth? Or would you turn away too? And then what if you saw All of the things that's wrong?"
Another funk-fueled production, the album (his eighth album since his 1990 debut The Devil Made Me Do It) was first announced seven months ago with the release of the single and video for the album track "Night of the Long Knives" that addresses police brutality, racism, and other issues (video below). It is being described by the artist as both a condemnation of society's ills and a celebration of its virtues, emphasizing themes promoting unity, progression, and community upliftment, and a "musical statement of solidarity" with a wide range of guest collaborators that include Chuck D, George Clinton, E-40, WC, Kam, Tha Eastsidaz, Dead Prez, T-K.A.S.H., and The Conscious Daughters that is "a much needed united front against oppression and institutional racism in an age almost devoid of meaningful commentary in urban entertainment."
Yesterday Don Joyce of Negativland and KPFA's pioneering "Over The Edge" died at age 71. Today his longtime creative collaborator Mark Hosler posted the following touching and factually comprehensive tribute/obituary to the cut-and-paste /sound collage/culture jamming pioneer of the highly prolific Bay Area group:
"Words cannot do justice to the loss of Donald S. Joyce, Crosley Bendix, C. Eliot Friday, Omer Edge, Izzy Isn’t, Bud Choke, Leland Googleburger, Wang Tool and Dr. Oslo Norway, who all died yesterday in Oakland, CA of heart failure at age 71. Perhaps a loud, mournful squawk from Don's “Booper” feedback oscillator would better sum up the feelings of Negativland, his comrades and partners in art for 34 years, who are devastated. It was Don who coined the term “culture jamming”, and who devoted his life to the art of sound collage and his weekly live radio program, "Over the Edge," on KPFA FM in Berkeley, where it has continuously lived on the dial on Thursday nights at midnight since 1981, without interruption.
Don was a DJ at KPFA when a mutual friend, Ian Allen (who died this past January), introduced him to a group of Contra Costa County noise artists called Negativland, who entered the station one night armed with stacks of recordings and electronic gear, and immediately transformed Don’s “normal music show” into a free-form collage sound odyssey. It totally blew open his idea of what a radio program could be and what a DJ could “do.” And in Don Joyce (whose initials were conveniently also “DJ”), Negativland had found its “lead vocalist” without even realizing they were looking for one. It was Don who took the idea of reshaping previously recorded words – in a pre-sampling age – and ran with it to an extent and depth never before heard, and never equalled. “Recontextualization” became his weapon, with the 1/4” tape machine and razor blade his ammunition, and the radio “cart player" – an entirely forgotten piece of broadcast history using endless-loop tape cartridges, which he used until he death – his delivery system.
In keeping with the day's #tbt theme I flashback to late 1990's San Francisco -- an earlier era of the still-ongoing, unrelenting gentrification and tech invasion of the city by the Bay that has resulted in record high rents and driven out so many longtime SF residents (including lots of musicians and budget-conscious artists) who no longer can afford to live in a city that rivals Manhattan in cost of living. In comparison to today, the late '90s version of San Francisco was still relatively affordable, albeit still a far cry from the inexpensive city of previous decades that attracted so many artists to relocate to the Bay. In 2015 it may be tech giants like Twitter and Google who are seen as among the main culprits of gentrification in San Francisco. Back in the late '90s it was seen by most as the "dot com" invasion of areas South Of Market, particularly the Mission District.
"I don't wanna be a slave to no dot com…Ain't no parking around my residence. I don't like the candidates running for president. All these dot coms make me depressed…I'm more concerned about paying my rent," rapped veteran San Francisco underground hip-hop artist Crack Emcee on his song "Babylon.com." This earlier era SF tech revolt anthem (hear below) was the opening track that set the tone for the Amoeba Music Compilation Vol. II. This compilation of indie artists (many in San Francisco) was subtitled "Just Payin' The Rent" because at the time of its release - late '90s into early 2000's - San Francisco neighborhoods like The Mission were experiencing first hand the negative fallout of the dot com boom including driving up housing costs and hence out-pricing long time residents including artists with little money to begin with.