Amoeblog

December Album Picks: Charli XCX, D'Angelo, Nicki Minaj

Posted by Billy Gil, December 23, 2014 03:30pm | Post a Comment

December often doesn’t have the same number of big new releases as other months. But in this age of Beyonce-ing albums at the end of the year, there are still a few winners that slip into the end of the year.

 

D’Angelo Black Messiah (CD, LP out 2/10)

d'angelo black messiah cd lpThe long-awaited Black Messiah caps off 2014 as the year’s best soul album. But to call it soul or R&B would be reductive. Even more so than D’Angelo’s previous two albums, the excellent Brown Sugar and neo-soul masterpiece Voodoo, Black Messiah eschews any preconceived notions of what R&B, pop, music in general should be. Black Messiah draws upon a rich history of black music, notably blues, jazz and gospel and funk, and blows them out into billowing, smokey jams that seep under your skin, work their way into your veins. “Ain’t That Easy” rides hard on The Vanguard’s hip-hop beat and raunchy funk chords, while D’Angelo delivers an impassioned vocal and conciliatory lyrics like a sleek modern-day update of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” “1,000 Deaths” lays out Black Messiah’s other theme, starting with a powerful passage by an African American preacher that rails against the presentation of Jesus as a white savior. Over The Vanguard’s stuttering, skronking beat, D’Angelo’s multitracked vocal paints a harrowing picture but makes its most memorable couplet a rallying cry for the oppressed (“A coward dies a thousand times/But a soldier only dies just once), ending in an ecstatic, Prince-worthy cry and Hendrixy guitar explosions. Like Erykah Badu’s New Amerykah albums, or (aesthetically) like Kanye West’s Yeezus, Black Messiah is remarkably adventurous throughout. “The Charade” shuffles along a beat reminiscent of Radiohead’s “There, There,” dazzles with springs of sitar and builds to a thick climax. Similarly, “Back to the Future (Part I)” and “II” breaks up a future-funk suite about breaking up, keeping you engaged with its heady groove. Black Messiah’s more accessible moments make for some of the loveliest songwriting D’Angelo’s put to tape, with lush devotionals like “Till It’s Done (Tutu)” and “Really Love” and the jaunty alien jazz of “Sugah Daddy” making for perfect mixtape material. D’Angelo definitely kept us waiting a while for this one, but his remarkably consistent catalog to this point shows that the best things come to those who wait. Truly, Black Messiah is a densely layered soul masterpiece.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Revisiting Short Lived 1990's Slammin' Rap Video Magazine

Posted by Billyjam, December 23, 2014 11:52am | Post a Comment

24 long hip-hop years ago, way back in the year of 1990 (a time before the Internet with its instant access to everything) there were relatively few ways to hear rap news and new hip-hop music. Back then there was  Source magazine and a few other hip-hop print publications such as RapMasters or the UK published Hip Hop Connection monthly mag. Compared to nowadays when a news item can be published worldwide within seconds of it taking place, things sure moved slowly back in 1990. In that bygone print age, the turnaround from when a national monthly's contents were written and photographed and ready for publication then finally hit the newsstands was typically a two month period. That rendered much of the "news"  old by the time it was read - although rap fans back then didn't seem to care. Besides, they had few options to get their hip-hop fix.

A little more timely back at the beginning of the '90s were the weekly rap radio shows around the country, aircheck cassette tapes of which were often dubbed and re-dubbed and shared. Then there were the select weekly or monthly rap video shows on TV that ranged from small regional ones playing national rap music videos and showcasing local talent to the big national Yo! MTV Raps, which was then two years strong and a lifeline of hip-hop music and news to those in areas outside of big cities.

In addition to these media outlets was the novel hip-hop video magazine,  Slammin' Rap Video Magazine, which was a one-hour VHS videocassette tape published by BMG that retailed for $12.98. Often billing itself as material you would "not seen on MTV," the one-hour video production was hosted by Alex Winter (actor then famous for his role alongside a young Keanu Reeves in 1989's silly-but-fun comedy Sci-Fi Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure). Slammin' was an ambitious, well-executed production that presented engaging artist interviews and showed music clips with the best hip-hop acts of the day. The premiere Vol. 1 1990 edition (see below in full) included KRS-One, MC Hammer, Queen Latifah, Tone-Loc, Special Ed, Public Enemy's Chuck D, Ice-T and his extended Rhyme Syndicate crew that included a young pre House of Pain Everlast, Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock, Lakim Shabazz, Salt 'N' Pepa, Kid 'N' Play, and Roxanne Shanté among others. That's a pretty darn impressive line-up for a video magazine! But for whatever reason, the shortlived Slammin' video magazine series never took off in a huge way and only lasted for a handful of editions produced and published between 1990 and 1991. Along with Vol. 1 you can also see in full Vol. 3 of Slammin', which starred such hip-hop artists as LL Cool J, Too $hort, Schoolly D, Eric B & Rakim, D-Nice, and  Big Daddy Kane below. Both are really entertaining and educational in my opinion. And look in the used VHS bins at Amoeba for the occasional copy of the Slammin' video magazine series that shows up from time to time.

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The Best 'What's In My Bag?' Episodes of 2014

Posted by Amoebite, December 22, 2014 06:34pm | Post a Comment

Best What's In My Bag Episodes of 2014

2014 has been a big year for our "What's In My Bag?" series. All of our episodes are now captured and presented in gorgeous full HD and inscribed with a rad new hand-drawn logo. With our new tools we are continuing to try and step up our game creatively and seek out guests as interesting and uncommon as the items that are found in each episodes. This year we featured a Belgian pop star, a godfather of hip hop, an ace baker, a pair of British psych pop legends, a child star, an '80s icon, and not one but two Flaming Lips.

Here is our list of the Top 10 episodes from 2014, but since we couldn't leave it at just 10 check out the honorable mentions as well. Enjoy and thanks for watching!!
 

10) Michel Faber

Dutch-born author Michel Faber (Under the Skin, The Crimson Petal and the White) visited Amoeba San Francisco where he picked up an eclectic and esoteric selection ranging from folk to rock to experimental and beyond. He also waxes poetic about the beauty of vinyl packaging and the idea of an album as a book.

Michel Faber - What's In My Bag?
Watch and comment on YouTube

Noir City 13: 'Til Death Do Us Part

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 22, 2014 05:41pm | Post a Comment
Noir City

The 13th edition of the Film Noir Foundation's yearly film festival Noir City returns to the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, January 16–25, 2015. This year's schedule is overflowing with 25 extraordinary titles depicting the darker side of marriage. See characters who crave a perfect and permanent union, those who'll stop at nothing to preserve it, and those who will do anything to escape it.

The program runs the gamut from revered cinema masterpieces such as Luchino Visconti's les diaboliquesOssessione and H. G. Clouzot's Les Diaboliques to daffy delights such as Doris Day's absurdly entertaining Julie and Douglas Sirk's sensational (and silly) Sleep, My Love. The shadows are shed briefly to present the most perfect marriage: William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles in a holiday double bill of The Thin Man and After the Thin Man. Several subsets of films will be presented, honoring the work of creative talents such as Joan Fontaine, Robert Ryan, Barbara Stanwyck, Douglas Sirk, and 1950's husband and wife filmmakers Virginia and Andrew Stone.

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Hip-Hop Rap Up: YG & Nicki Minaj's new movie shorts, Ghostface Killah, J.Cole, Phryme

Posted by Billyjam, December 22, 2014 01:15pm | Post a Comment

Amoeba Music Hollywood Hip-Hop Top Five Week End 12:22:14


1) YG  Blame It On The Streets (Def Jam)

2) J. Cole 2014 Forest Hills Drive (Roc Nation)

3) Nicki Minaj The Pinkprint [Deluxe Edition] (Cash Money)

4) Ghostface Killah 36 Seasons (Tommy Boy)

5) Prhyme Prhyme (Prhyme)

In the latest Amoeba Music hip-hop chart's number one slot with a bullet is YG's brand new Blame It On The Streets on Def Jam that was released one week ago to coincide with the online release on that same day of the film of the same name. The Blame It On The Streets soundtrack CD is an EP length, nine track release that's a nice follow up to his March 2014 hit debut album My Krazy Life. It even includes a few tracks off My Krazy Life including a remix of "Bicken Back Being Bool" and a live in the Bay version of "BPT."  Meantime the movie version of Blame It On The Streets (which you can see in full below) is directed by Lucky Rodgers and Alex Nazari. It is a ghetto gangsta tale that, while not totally original, is well made with good acting and production values. In fact it could have even run a bit longer than its well paced but tad too short thirty minutes. And likely there'll be a sequel in the works since the overall response by fans to the film has been overwhelmingly positive. Not to mention that it acts as a nice promotion tool for the new release. Similarly Nicki Minaj, whose brand new The Pinkprint [Deluxe Edition] c/o Cash Money is this week's number three chart entry, has just released a corresponding movie short. Also featured below Minaj's movie runs about a quarter hour and is a co-promote of both her album and Beats By Dre who bankrolled/produced the project that is technically actually a long form music video of four songs than a movie. As for the album it promotes - the The Pinkprint [Deluxe Edition] explicit version CD that arrived into Amoeba this past week care of Cash Money Records - it boasts 19 tracks including the unavoidable current pop hit "Only" that features guest shots from Drake, Lil Wayne, and Chris Brown. The album features other big name guests too including Beyoncé (on "Feeling Myself"), Ariana Grande ("Get On Your Knees"), Meek Mill ("Buy A Heart"), and Skylar Gray ("Bed of Lies").

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