Denver's Colorado Crush Street Art Festival: Where Aerosol & Kush Fill The Air and Vibrant Murals Line The Mile High City's Walls

Posted by Billyjam, September 18, 2015 11:01am | Post a Comment

Denver's ever evolving and expanding annual Colorado Crush street art festival, where the distinct odors of kush smoke and aerosol paint fumes fill the air while bright colorful, painstakingly handcrafted art pieces fill the walls of the Mile High City, is back again this week for what promises to be its best year to date - Colorado Crush 2015.

Begun by Robin Munro and others who shared a passion and love for street art as well as for their Colorado capitol city, the outdoor arts event began quietly back in 2009. But in the six years since this now internationally renowned street art festival has blossomed into one of Denver's signature art events, having grown exponentially and winning accolades along the way. Last year it won the 2014 Mayor's Design Award chosen by Denver's Mayor Michael B. Hancock - whose progressive city is unique in how it  embraces street art, even lending financial support, while other cities like New York continue to demonize it, making its creators criminals, and failing to distinguish between the various types of street art.

This year's Colorado Crush, that runs through Sunday September 20th, organizers say will be its "biggest and best" yet with participation up an estimated 50% resulting in even more outdoor art to enjoy, and with more business owners and community members getting involved and donating wall space.

DJ Food's Star Wars Audio/Video Megamix

Posted by Billyjam, September 17, 2015 11:43am | Post a Comment

DJ Food - The Tracks Go Off In This Direction from Solid Steel on Vimeo.

Star Wars fans, who are counting down the days to the forthcoming new movie in the franchise Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens opening in theaters on December 18th, will rejoice at the recently published Star Wars themed music/video mix by UK based DJ Food who, via Solid Steel Vimeo, has laced up the above sweet mix entitled "The Tracks Go Off In This Direction" that is packed with appeal to both Star Wars movie fans and hip-hop/cut'n'paste music fans.

The 30 minute megamix by the Ninja Tune artist, that contains a lot of different samples/sound sources, is accurately described by its producer as  a "celebration of audio visual Star Wars spin-offs, made to mark the end of a summer performing at Secret Cinema's production of 'The Empire Strikes Back' in London."  That Secret Cinema show, by the way, ends its run on Sunday, September 27th, with tix for the London, England event available here. Meanwhile the JJ Abrams produced new movie may not open in theaters for another three full months, but you can purchase advance tix now online here. And of course you can shop at Amoeba Music for such Star Wars items as the Star Wars Trilogy DVD set

Remembering San Francisco MC African Identity

Posted by Billyjam, September 16, 2015 02:26pm | Post a Comment

Late last night Pam the Funkstress posted a sad social media update to her Instagram and Facebook pages with the news that fellow veteran Bay Area hip-hop artist African Identity, who rose to fame in the early nineties with his firebrand mic skills and hardcore political hybrid style, had died yesterday, September 15th, 2015. In addition to her update, including noting how she had just seen him in the past month, Pam posted the above photo of the late great artist for whom no cause of death has yet been announced. The Fillmore, San Francisco emcee named Hunafa, but known to most as African Identity and sometimes as just Identity, will be remembered for such releases as Ransom Note and You Won’t Come To My Funeral. By the time his debut album You Won’t Come To My Funeral was released in 1995 the microphone master was already a respected mainstay on the healthy 1990's Bay Area hip-hop scene - ever since arriving with a bang in 1992 with his acclaimed single, “Let’s Get It On (Pullin That Trigger).”

In the capacities of hip-hop journalist, radio DJ, and concert producer I worked directly with African Identity on numerous occasions throughout the decade of the nineties and always knew him to be both a good person and most talented (albeit largely underrated) artist, especially when it came to flexing his freestyle skills. In the first half of that decade I would have him as a regular guest on my KUSF hip-hop radio show on the USF campus, not far from where he lived. I remember how listeners really appreciated his improv rhyme skills and how they nominated him as the “number 1 Bay Area freestyler" on the now defunct San Francisco radio station. Meantime over at KMEL African Identity had been nominated as the first runner up in their heated Battle Of The Rappers. With a now eerie sounding reference to his own funeral, the San Francisco artist's debut album, You Won't Come to My Funeral, was a largely slept-on, talent-packed Bay Area hip-hop gem. It featured an impressive roster of his peers as guests that included Pam the Funkstress' group The Coup, Del tha Funke Homosapien (who also did some production), the GLP's JT Tha Bigga Figga, and D-Moe, Shock G of Digital Underground, Young Woo, Psycho Gangsta, Double D, Cisco The Frisco Mack, Blackbook, and Screwface. Produced mostly by Nick Peace but with some additional studio work by Del and J-Mack, the album defined both the Bay Area sound at the time as well as that of the artist himself. In the period right before its mid-nineties release he summed up the richly diverse 14 track album as “enlightening, tantalizing, sensational, provocative, political, Afro-centric, Euro-centric, it’s everything that we are....”.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: When Bay Area Political Rapper Paris Got Dropped By His Record Label Over Content

Posted by Billyjam, September 15, 2015 11:51pm | Post a Comment

25 years ago outspoken San Francisco rapper Paris burst onto the national rap scene with his politically charged debut single for New York's prestigious Tommy Boy Records - "The Devil Made Me Do It." (see the accompanying music video that was banned by MTV at the time). The Devil Made Me Do It was also the title of the politically charged debut album that the single was taken from by the self-described "Black Panther of hip-hop." Continuing that no-holds-barred angry rebellion rap music was Paris' follow album, Sleeping With The Enemy that was slated for a 1992 release on Tommy Boy. But then the record label suddenly dropped him from their roster.  Tommy Boy Records you see was distributed by Warner Brothers who were already getting heat and feeling pressured over Ice-T/Body Count's highly controversial 1992 song "Cop Killer."  So when they got wind of what was to be on the forthcoming Paris album (songs about killing cops - "Coffee, Donuts, & Death" as well as none other than the president himself Dubya's dad - "Bush Killa") you can bet they (and their shareholders) wanted to distance themselves as far as possible from this outspoken and out-of-control militant (in their eyes) Bay Area hip-hop artist. So they sent him packing with a nice payoff check that the artist born Oscar Jackson Jr. took to invest in his own (already established) label Scarface Records. With new offices in Oakland and a locally hired staff from the community, he released the album himself.  And in the years since - and the various distribution deals and all through his own independently owned record labels including Guerrilla Funk Recordings - Paris has not stopped nor ever once toned down his message or caved into pressure to stop speaking what he believes via his music. The latest example is recommended just released latest 2CD album Pistol Politics (also avail as download) that arrived in Amoeba last Friday, September 11th, and features the powerful, anti-police violence single "Night Of The Long Knives." The album, that will be featured here in an upcoming Amoeblog indepth interview with Paris, was the inspiration for this Hip-Hop History Amoeblog on Paris from that includes a selection of rare press and publicity clips from those early 90's years of his first two well publicized albums.

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Hip-Hop Rap-Up: Hiero Day 4 Review, Seagram Biopic, RIP Kool DJ AJ, Digg Tribute Compilation + more

Posted by Billyjam, September 14, 2015 11:51pm | Post a Comment

"I live in the Town now. My son goes to school here," LA born emcee Bambu (pictured above) told the early afternoon audience at Hiero Day 4 this past Monday (September 7th) between songs by his political rap group Native Guns from the Imperium Stage - one of several
performance stages simultaneously featuring a rich diverse array of mostly local or Left Coast hip-hop acts. The recently relocated SoCal artist was making the point of how important Oakland had become to him personally as well as how incredibly impressive was this independent and unique urban event that he and his hip-hop group were invited to be a part of.

"No negativity," stressed Bambu gesturing out across the large scale, violence free, annual festival that would again prove the naysayers wrong in that Oakland (aka The Town) can indeed produce a peaceful,  positive, uplifting hip-hop festival with no negativity, just positivity! While the credit for this accomplishment goes to all of the participants - both on stage and off - it primarily goes to the Hieros themselves. As the event's producers, they have crafted something quite amazing out of their combined love of the culture that gave them their careers and the city that gave them their start. Indeed Hiero Day is the ultimate celebration of all things positive about Oakland, CA with the Hieroglyphics collective embodying and embracing the very essence of Oakland in 2015. Not too surprisingly then that former Mayor Jean Quan formally recognized September 3rd (9/3) as Hiero Day two years ago. However the Hieros themselves have done more to uplift The Town than any politician with a skewed agenda ever could!

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