As for what Kev thinks makes the Wu-Tang such an important and essential music group? "At no time before, and arguably since, has that much talent been assembled in one package with that sort of game-changing production, concept, and execution. It was literally the perfect storm, and that’s why it hit the entire culture like a thermonuclear bomb,". he replied quickly adding for further emphasis, "And you know what a bomb sounds like, right? Bong bong!"
As a club and radio DJ (his long-running KZSU show "The Drum" is both highly influential and legendary - read the Amoeblog profile on it and Kevvy Kev here) he has personally known the Wu members from their inception - even before in fact. "I met RZA first, as a solo artist when he was on Tommy Boy," he recalled, continuing. "After that record, he went solo and released "Protect Ya Neck" independently, and the streets went crazy! So when Loud picked up the group, they flew ‘em out to Cali and did a run from LA to the Bay. The [Bay Area Hip-Hop] Coalition handled the Bay Area part of the run, so we had a chance to build with the clan," he recalled pausing for a moment. "Too many stories to go into here, but you can imagine!" And as for Kevvy Kev's top five favorite Wu-Tang Clan joints of the moment - whether group, solo, or side projects? "With the caveat that this list changes frequently and for often arbitrary reasons,," he replied. "For the purposes of this list, I’m only picking songs from the Wu albums - not solo joints or collabos."
Other golden era classic tracks included on this chart are House of Pain's breakout crossover hit "Jump Around," the Beastie Boys' "Pass The Mic," and Main Source's "Fakin' The Funk." The accompanying video for that song, in which the lyrics even reference "the year of 92," can be seen below. As is evident from the video the song was used on the soundtrack to the film White Men Can't Jump that was released at that same time. Another rap heavy soundtrack included on this chart is the excellent Juice OST that got released a few months earlier and included tracks from such acts as Eric B. & Rakim, EPMD, Cypress Hill, and Naugthy By Nature - but oddly not Tupac Shakur who starred in the movie and had just released his solo debut 2Pacalaypse Now. As well as the Bay Area based 2Pac there were some other Bay Area artists associated with the movie - well with the excellent soundtrack specifically. These included producer Ant Banks as well as Too $hort, and MC Pooh. The latter artist who also went by the name Pooh-Man is separately featured on this chart with the single "Funky."
A popular album at Amoeba Music since its release four weeks ago is Ghostface Killah's latest release, 36 Seasons (Salvation/Tommy Boy), which is the Wu-Tang Clan artist's eleventh solo studio album release since he unleashed his debut solo (the RZA-produced Ironman) back in 1996. It is the artist's latest since last year's Adrian Younge-produced Twelve Reasons To Die. For 36 Seasons, Ghostface collaborated in the studio with Brooklyn-based production outfit The Revelations.
The result is an album that has met positive feedback from fans who love it, with many even considering it the artist's best solo work to date. Alternately, those who have dissed it call it unoriginal and claim that the artist is merely going through the motions and regurgitating past formulas. I see where they are coming from but I disagree. I love how Ghostface continues to demonstrate what a gifted storyteller he is. With the help of album collaborators such as Kool G Rap and AZ, he weaves intriguing tales all tied into the album's theme of a returning hip-hop superhero to his rough and rugged streets of Staten Island following beeing away for 36 seasons (nine years).
According to several published reports today, country singing legend and longtime regular at the Grand Ole Opry "Little" Jimmy Dickens has died. With the cause listed as cardiac arrest (following being hospitalized from suffering a stroke a week ago), Dickens died yesterday in a Nashville-area hospital at age 94. According to a press release issued by the Grand Ole Opry, he was the last living member of the Grand Ole Opry who was actually older than the radio show itself. In his long lifetime, "Little" Jimmy Dickens became famous for his novelty hit records beginning with 1949's "Take An Old Cold Tater (And Wait)," "I'm Little but I'm Loud," "Sleeping At The Foot of the Bed," and "May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose" - the latter of which (a 1965 number one hit single) was reportedly inspired by Johnny Carson's Tonight Show sketch "Carnac the Magnificent." See the video interview below in which he talks about the mixed blessing of becoming known primarily for his novelty songs, as well as other topics such as what he wanted to be remembered for in life.
"Little" Jimmy Dickens, who earned his name for his diminutive stature (he stood 4' 11"), was a man with a self-deprecating sense of humor and would routinely get laughs by drawing attention to his own height with such witty catchphrases as calling himself "Willie Nelson after taxes." Dickens first joined the Opry cast in 1948 and would stay with them right up the end making his final appearance on the Opry stage just two weeks ago on December 20th, 2014 - the day after his 94th birthday. Dickens, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1983, leaves behind a back catalog of music spanning several decades as many record labels and including a few dozen singles and twelve albums in addition to a string of various artist compilations he appeared on. Look for Dickens' material at Amoeba online as well as in the Amoeba stores.