With just a quick glance over the forty records included in the rap/hip-hop chart, courtesy of the defunct Gavin Report radio trade magazine from the week of July 5th 1991, it's evident that this period in the still growing urban music genre was a truly incredible time in hip-hop history with so many soon-to-be classics being recorded and released! These include singles and album tracks, all very popular to this day 24 years later, from such legendary, influential hip-hop acts as De La Soul, Gang Starr, KMD (featuring a young MF Doom), Leaders of The New School, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, EPMD, Main Source, and Brand Nubian. Also included are such hip-hop legends as Big Daddy Kane, Chubb Rock, LL Cool J, Kool Moe Dee, Ice T, Rodney O & Joe Cooley, Naughty By Nature, 3rd Bass, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Ice Cube protege/female rapper Yo-Yo and the late great NJ producer/rapper Tony D to name but some.
Bay Area hip-hop artists Ray Luv, G-Stack, and Nump were among those to attend a screening of the brand new N.W.A bio pic Straight Outta Compton that opened in theaters today. Part of a large group day outing to the Century Richmond Hilltop movie-complex that was hosted by local rap distributor RapBay, they checked out the new two and a half hour film on the gangsta rap pioneers that covers a lot of ground, starting with how N.W.A originally came together and tracing their ever controversial career, and that of certain members after they went solo including Ice Cube's solo career and Dr. Dre's Death Row days with Snoop and Pac and up until the formation of Aftermath Records.
The movie, whose four central characters are Eazy, Jerry Heller, Ice Cube and Dre, spends a good deal of time towards its end on the tragic death in 1995 of Eazy-E. "I thought it was a pretty good movie and true to the story. CMT went to see it last night and he said it was good so I had to see it," said longtime Oakland rapper G-Stack (aka Purple Mane) who first came to fame back in the early 90's as part of the duo The Delinquents who, like N.W.A and Ice Cube, were also signed to Priority Records. Their dealings with the label and its owner Brian Turner were not as dramatic as those of Ice Cube in the film.
With their highly-anticipated biopic Straight Outta Compton opening in theaters today, August 14th, you can bet that there's gonna be a whole lot more talk about N.W.A's legacy in the history of hip-hop. The highly influential group's unique new take on raw in-your-face hardcore rap changed the rap game forever.
They first grabbed the attention of the hip-hop world in 1987 with "Boyz-n-the-Hood" and "Dope Man" on Ruthless Records via Macola when it was N.W.A and the Posse. That was when this collective of rappers from South Central LA first made people stop and listen to their unprecedented rap sound - a mix of head-nodding, hard, funky bassline beats and grooves with catchy as hell, no-holds-barred stories about life in the ghetto. Then came their landmark 1988 debut album Straight Outta Compton that gave the new film its title and sporting such soon to be classics as "Gangsta Gangsta," "Fuck Tha Police," "Dopeman (Remix)," and its powerful title track. Extra significant is the fact that Straight Outta Compton was recorded in just six weeks for only $8,000. The indie release with its iconic album cover art, that has been copied and parodied a million times since, would go on to sell three and a half million copies and, more importantly, be instrumental in altering the direction of a genre.
As seen in the new documentary below about The Jacka, the widespread outpouring of grief by fans and peers alike of the NorCal hip-hop artist when he was tragically killed earlier this year, in a still unsolved murder, is an indication of just how widely respected the prolific Pittsburg, CA born rapper truly was. That grief for the beloved Oakland-based artist, who initially came to fame in the '90s via C-BO proteges The Mob Figaz, was especially felt in his native Bay Area. In the months since his untimely death on February 2nd when he was shot and killed in a drive-by in Deep East Oakland, there have been many tributes to the artist including concerts, radio specials, and dedicated DJ mixes. And according to E-Lit at Amoeba Berkeley, Jacka fans old and new alike have been seeking out solo and collaborative releases (including track cameos) by the rapper such as his ever-popular, guest-heavy 2009 album Tear Gas, his series with Berner including last year's Drought Season 2, and the collaborative full-length Highway Robbery with Philly emcee Freeway.
Today, August 12th, is another significant day for the artist born Dominic Newton in 1977 since this would have been his 38th birthday. In honoring this date, tonight at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco, will be a most impressive line-up of artists presenting The Jacka Birthday Tribute Concert. This all-star lineup of artists will include his old crew Mob Figaz, as well many others from the Bay (and beyond too) including Andre Nickatina, Cellski, Keak Da Sneak, Paul Wall, Joe Blow, Mistah F.A.B., Mitchy Slick, Laroo, Traxamillion, Lee Majors, Krondon, Zion I, Erk Tha Jerk, Dubb 20, Street Knowledge, and DJ Drama - many of whom have collaborated with the artist over the years including both Andre Nickatina and Traxamillion, who collaborated on The Jacka track "Glamorous Lifestyle." With so many artists on the one stage, it is likely that their sets will be much shorter than usual concert performances. Tickets for this great line-up tonight are only $20 advanced or $25 at the door. Showtime is 8pm for this all-ages show, but get there early as this could be a sold-out show. More info here.
If the voice-over intro to the trailer below (or rather "teaser") for the forthcoming television series Vinyl reminds you of the Goodfellas monologue by Ray Liotta's character Henry Hill in the iconic crime/gangster film's opening, that's perhaps because the 2016 HBO drama-series is also from Martin Scorsese who directed that popular 1990 film. In this new production Scorsese, along with Mick Jagger and Terence Winter (Boardwalk Empire creator), are the ones behind this new HBO show that is set in the 1970s and delves into all the drama and excesses of the rock and roll lifestyle that was personified in that decadent decade. The cast of this upcoming series is listed as Bobby Cannavale, Olivia Wilde, Ray Romano, Ato Essandoh, Max Casella, P.J. Byrne, J.C. MacKenzie, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, Juno Temple, Jack Quaid, Paul Ben-Victor and (Mick's son) James Jagger. Based on this short trailer alone that was uploaded to YouTube in the past week and shows some familiar faces playing key roles (plus the music of the New York Dolls), I am pretty sure that this will be another HBO series worth watching each week, likely on Sunday nights when their best shows first air. For updates and more teases on this series go to the Vinyl Facebook page and the HBO website page dedicated to the show.