It was being billed as the First Annual Bay Area Reggae Festival and was to take place over this weekend at the cavernous Craneway Pavilion in Richmond. Scheduled performers were to include big names of the genre such as Junior Reid, Gyptian, Marcia Griffiths, Freddie McGregor, Sister Carol, Barrington Levy, and Lady Saw. Tickets for the ambitious East Bay three-day event (July 17-19) were $200 or $75 per day, which, most agreed, was pricey but worth it to see some of the reggae legends booked. However, in the final lead-up days to the reggae festival, rumors had been circulating that advance ticket sales were not good. As with any first-time festival event of this scale, those financially invested in it were getting a little anxious in the days leading up to the festival and those fears were well founded it would turn out.
This Amoeblog, which includes music videos by ten of the numerous talented acts that will perform at this weekend's Art Of Rap Festival, is geared to act as a primer for the Ice-T-curated, two-day, two-location (SoCal and NorCal) event that includes some of the best MC names in the history of hip-hop, such as Rakim, Melle Mel, Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick, and the Cold Crush Brothers featuring Grandmaster Caz. Taking place today (Saturday, July 18th) in SoCal at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre and then tomorrow up at the Shoreline Amphiteather in Mountain View, the ambitious project is an outgrowth of the documentary film Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap from a few years ago. The documentary features many of the same acts in the film, which is now available from Amoeba on DVD as well as the accompanying soundtrack on CD and LP that features lots of the freestyle and live versions of songs featured throughout the documentary).
Tairrie B, who returns to rap following a two-decade detour into rock with a new rap album, has been called a pioneer for paving the way for the current generation white female rappers like Iggy Azalea, who was born the year that Tairrie B burst onto the national rap scene. That was 1990 when she was signed by Eazy-E who released her debut solo album The Power Of A Woman on his Ruthless Records imprint Comptown Records, which had major distribution through MCA. Her early 90's debut album's contributors included such heavy hitters as Eazy-E (of course), Schoolly D, Everlast, The D.O.C., and Dr. Dre, each of whom had small cameos. Originally, Eazy suggested a last track (traditionally a posse cut) called "I Ain't Yo Bitch" and having Ice Cube or The D.O.C. pen with Dre producing. How that would have gone down was that the guys in N.W.A would each have a verse calling the female artist a "bitch" with the song's target shooting back a closing retort. Reportedly, Tairrie B did not approve the song concept or the idea of Dr. Dre having the final word in the studio. That led to behind the scenes conflicts that, in turn, led to her writing her own last song that she titled "Ruthless Bitch." In the updated, self-empowering track, she took the word "bitch" and flipped the script by defining it as "B.I.T.C.H" meaning "Being In Total Control of Herself." Her goal was to replace the negative stigma associated with the word and turn the tables. Not surprisingly, not all were happy with her changes. One unhappy party was Dr. Dre, who she would run into at an after party for the Grammy's at which he reportedly physically assaulted her. She would go on to re-record the track changing the verse about Dre to include the line: "World class you got no class, So when they said let you produce me, I said I'll pass. As for the Grammy's, I'll put that on the shelf...It takes a punk motherfucker to play himself, Your best shot was weak, I didn't need stitches...Get this straight, I ain't one of your bitches! You cartoon gangsta, I'm calling your bluff...Hitting a woman, that makes you real tough!"
Neil Young is back in the news this week after announcing on his Facebook page that he will pull all of his music off of streaming sites, writing that "streaming has ended for me" due to the inferior sound quality that he labels "the worst quality in the history of broadcasting or any other form of distribution." Although Young did not name specific outlets such as Spotify or iTunes, it was implied that those were among those he was talking about, for the time being at least. "When the quality is back, I'll give it another look," he wrote, stressing "I don't feel right allowing this to be sold to my fans. It's bad for my music" and derives from deals "made without my consent."
Not specified as yet is if Young is including in his definition of "streaming" the online stream versions of terrestrial radio stations such as say KFOG in the Bay Area or KLOS in SoCal. If so, that might mean no radio play for Neil Young in the US as well as on the BBC. And what about artists signed to his Vapor label such as Main Attrakionz who recently played an Amoeba in-store. Will their music also be pulled too since they're also subject to the "worst quality" of music ever. And is YouTube included as a "streaming" outlet for his and his artists' music?
Fans of the Grateful Dead feeling bummed about not getting to attend the final Dead series of concerts recently, might consider the alternative of going to check out George Clinton's Parliament Funkadelic who are currently on a summer tour that includes some free shows in New York City this week. As anyone like myself who has ever witnessed concerts by both Jerry Garcia's beloved band and by the Godfather of Funk's various funk incarnations (Parliament / Funkadelic / P-Funk All Stars) will attest, both share an approach to concerts that tend towards long extended jams that are related to "the One." So if you were among those Deadheads disappointed to not get to attend either the two anniversary Dead shows last month in Santa Clara, CA or this month's sold-out (and expensive) show series at Chicago's Soldier Field, where the four remaining members of the Grateful Dead - Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann - performed together reportedly for the last time, then I say honor Jerry and the Dead by going to see George and Parliament Funkadelic.