2Pac Producer Deon "Big D The Impossible" Evans Is Dead

Posted by Billyjam, October 21, 2015 04:20pm | Post a Comment

Rest in peace to Bay Area hip-hop producer Deon Evans (aka Big D, aka Big D The Impossible). He was known widely for his production work with Tupac Shakur in crafting such timeless 2Pac tracks as "If My Homie Calls" and "Brenda's Got A Baby" (co-produced with Underground Railroad), which was the lead first single off the rap icon's 1991 debut album 2Pacalypse Now. I got the sad news earlier this morning from longtime Oaklander Craig "C-Note" White, whose credits include working with Mac Mill back in the day when he was a part of the tight-knit East Bay rap scene along his old friend Deon Evans. This morning C-Note confirmed that Evans, who reportedly had a history of kidney and heart related health problems, had passed away sometime overnight.  Even more tragic is the fact that the multi-platinum hip-hop producer was still a relatively young man of 45 years old.

Back in the day, Deon Evans was part of the East Bay hip-hop fabric and working with other artists such as Berkeley rapper/producer Clever Jeff. He also contributed to Digital Underground and was a part of the extended family. DJ Fuze and Money B used to live a couple of blocks away and were always hanging out. His older brother James ran with the DU crew. The two appear in Digital Underground's "DooWutchYaLike" video. Pac was a part of that musical family too, and it is in hip-hop history books that Deon Evans' legacy will be mostly forever interlocked with Tupac's name. The list of 2Pac classics Evans produced includes "Changes," "Ghetto Gospel," "Papa'z Song," and "Point The Finga" with the latter two both off Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. On that 1993 2Pac album Evans went by his Big D the Impossible handle, and under it he also co-produced with Pac the album track "Something 2 Die 4." 

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Digital Underground Spin-off Acts

Posted by Billyjam, July 21, 2015 06:14pm | Post a Comment

From when they first formed in the East Bay in the late 1980s, the funk/rap/hip-hop ensemble Digital Underground (DU) was as much a collective of creative-minded artists as simply a singular rap group. As such, these young P-Funk disciples tended to have an ever-rotating stable of members and associated artists. Digital Underground, whose consistent core members over their two-decade timeline were Shock G (aka Humpty Hump, aka M.C. Blowfish) and Money B, spawned several spinoff acts in their prime years (circa '88 - '93) that included most notably a dancer and roadie turned actor and rap superstar Tupac Shakur or 2Pac, Raw Fusion (DJ Fuze and Money B), Gold Money (who were also signed to Tommy Boy for a minute, but long enough to do the cool money-themed promo items pictured below), Saafir (f/k/a The Saucy Nomad), female emcee/singer Mystic (who was also down with Conscious Daughters), and Pee Wee. Pee Wee, who was part of the aforementioned Gold Money along with Bigg Money Odis, would go on to produce for 2Pac as well as being a member of another Bay Area collective, Too $hort's extended Dangerous Crew rap family.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: April 1992 KUSF Top 30 Hip-Hop Chart

Posted by Billyjam, January 6, 2015 06:00pm | Post a Comment
Just dug up the Top 30 airplay chart (left) from 23 years ago from the weekly KUSF FM  hip-hop radio show I did at that time on the beloved, now sadly defunct San Francisco radio station that used to reign supreme at 90.3FM. The radio show I did was on Sunday evenings after the Spotlight guest DJ feature program and before The Germ's demo tape show. It was a good time in the history of hip-hop when the genre was still in its so-called "golden era" epitomized by artists like 3rd Bass, Black Sheep, and Gang Starr and by such releases as Showbiz & AG's Soul Clap EP, Ultramagnetic MCs' Funk Your Head Up album (with the single "Poppa Large"), and A Tribe Called Quest's Low End Theory which even though it was released seven months earlier was still getting airplay due to the sheer quality of its content - every track on point - examples including "Buggin' Out," "Butter," "Check The Rhime," "Show Buiness," and "Jazz (We Got)." 

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. & RakimEPMD, 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."

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New "What's In My Bag?" Episode With R&B Singer Jhene Aiko

Posted by Amoebite, December 3, 2014 12:43pm | Post a Comment

Jhene Aiko at Amoeba Hollywood

Seamlessly blurring the lines of modern R&B and pop-oriented Hip Hop, Jhene Aiko is a new brand of singer. Some have said Aiko is the female answer to Frank Ocean, while other critics have drawn comparisons to the late great Aaliyah. Starting out in the '90s as a pre-teen, Aiko supplied backing vocals for R&B group B2K. In 2003, at just 15 years old, Aiko was set to release her solo debut via Sony/Epic Records. When the album was shelved Aiko made the decision to go back to school. Eight years later, Aiko returned to music delivering her first mixtape, .sailing soul(s). in March 2011. Nine months later she signed a recording contract with producer No I.D.'s label Artium, distributed by Def Jam.  

Jhene Aiko Souled OutJhene Aiko has been hard at work since her return to the spotlight. In 2013 she released the EP, Sail Out (Island/Def Jam) and landed an opening spot touring with Nas and Lauryn Hill. In 2014, Aiko followed up with her full-length, Souled Out (Island/Def Jam). Her album titles are in reference to a record executive who once advised she must "sell out" in order to succeed in the music industry. Aiko has since been a vocalist in demand, recording tracks for rappers Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and Childish Gambino. With a strong work ethic and a down to earth attitude, Aiko is bound to be pop music's next "it girl." She is on tour this month, playing Club Nokia in Los Angeles December 7 and The Warfield in San Francisco December 10. See her full tour dates here.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: September 1996 In The Wake of 2Pac's Murder

Posted by Billyjam, October 21, 2014 07:00am | Post a Comment
For this week's Hip-Hop History Tuesdays Amoeblog I rewind the clock back eighteen full years to September 1996 and to the hip-hop news related to 2Pac that I was reporting on at the time via various media outlets. The shooting death of Tupac Shakur was the big story of that year.  The shooting death of 2Pac, who died in September of 1996, had a major impact on many people and often - oddly enough - in a positive way. At the time I reported on how 2Pac's death sparked discussion and unity among California inmates interviewing the then incarcerated Oakland rapper Pooh-Man (aka MC Pooh). "I've never seen anything quite like it before.  It brought every culture in here closer together; blacks, whites, and Mexicans.  Everyone was  touched by his death," Poohman told me at the time speaking by phone from San Quentin two days following the  Sept 13th news of 2Pac's death.  "I'm in a dorm with two hundred muthafuckas who is always talkin' and hollerin' but now whenever 2Pac's song comes on the radio everybody gets silent.  He meant a hell of a lot to everyone.  He was the voice of a generation.  He was speaking for all of us," said Poohman, "Right after his death a lot of the blacks got together in circles and talked about it and rapped the words to his songs," he said.  In fact at that time Poohman and fellow inmate, Oakland rapper Beehive, even went so far as to write a rap song in honor the slain rapper entitled, "We Still Feel Your Presence."

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