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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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: A Tale of Two Biggies (Biggie Smalls Vs. Biggy Smallz)

Posted by Billyjam, August 19, 2014 09:43am | Post a Comment
The tale of two Biggies is the tale of two rappers with the same name, and with one of them having to change his rap name. It dates to back to the early to mid 1990's when legendary Brooklyn rapper Biggie Smalls of Puff Daddy's Bad Boy Records fame first arrived on the scene to some confusion among hip-hop fans at the time who were familiar with the other existing rapper named Biggy Smallz who was Thug Life and 2Pac affiliated. That Biggy started out a bit earlier in his rap career, beginning in 1991 at a young age.

Both rappers had drawn inspiration for their names from the 1975 movie Let's Do It Again and its character Biggie Smalls that was played by Calvin Lockhart. So by the time the Biggie born Christopher Wallace arrived on the rap map the other Biggy Smallz was already out there releasing hip-hop singles including 1993's "Cruisin" which, like 1994's "Nobody Rides For Free," was also produced by Johnny "J" who was also producing for 2Pac - an affiliation that he is best known for.  Reportedly it was Tupac Shakur who asked Christopher Wallace to change his name from Biggie Smalls to avoid confusion with his Thug Life buddy Biggy. Hence Christopher Wallace officially became The Notorious B.I.G. before releasing his major label debut. Although since some have suggested that it was not Pac's request for the name change but rather fear of legal copyright infringement from the producers of the Let's Do It Again movie that was the real reason for Wallace changing his name. 

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The 25 Best Hip-Hop Movies

Posted by Billyjam, July 24, 2014 06:15pm | Post a Comment

Best Hip Hop films

The definition of "hip hop movies" is pretty darn wide as it covers a broad range of types and styles of films - not to mention differing levels of quality since, let's face it, some have been downright low-budget jenky (bad meaning bad). The hip hop movie genre as a whole encompasses such varieties as concerts films (EG 1995's The Show or 2005's Dave Chappelle's Block Party); documentaries about specific parts of the genre or individual artists (e.g. Scratch or Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme or Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest); bio-pics like Notorious or the semi-biographical Eminem acting vehicle 8-Mile; and straight up pure celebratory flicks that show love for some or all of hip hop's four elements (EG Wild Style, Juice, Beat Street, and Breakin').

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All Eyez On 2Pac Photo Shoot

Posted by Billyjam, June 9, 2014 04:20pm | Post a Comment

The other day while riding BART, I saw an ad for KMEL radio with a collage of images featuring a sampling of artists that get a lot of airplay on the popular Bay Area radio station, including the late great Tupac Shakur. The 2Pac photo (left) was that iconic one you see all the time, culled from the photo shoot for the slain rap artist's album All Eyez On Me. The Death Row / Interscope release was Tupac's fifth album and widely considered the best album of his long illustrious career, both in life and posthumously. 2Pac would be dead seven months after the
release of this album.

The actual photo, one of many shot by celebrity photographer Ken Nahoum (see video below by Nahoum from the 2Pac photo shoot) for the album's art work, was not used for the front cover but instead relegated to the inside gatefold as part of a collage of pictures and text to accompany the four-LP, two-CD set that was divided into "Book 1" and "Book 2." However, since its February 1996 release, it is this image that has been used time and time again in articles and advertisements like KMEL's.

Every time I see this iconic picture of Pac staring upwards I always wonder to myself, what is he looking at or what exactly was going through his mind right then? So over the weekend I passed on this question via my Facebook page to find our what others thought might be the answer. The response was pretty good so I decided to republish the replies below with the name of who suggested them.

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