About a quarter way into the The Coup's amazing world premiere of Shadowbox - the longtime politicized Oakland hip-hop group's ambitious multifaceted, mixed media, multi-stage production that played as a preview for only two shows at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) - front-man/emcee Boots Riley pointed to the giant floor-to-ceiling artwork by East Bay street artist Jon-Paul Bail. The East Bay muralist's giant cityscape print, that wrapped its way around all walls of the entire performance space at YBCA, was an accurate image of the changing city that awaited outside the museum's walls. Skyscrapers and other towering buildings with bold logos emblazoned on them of American born and bred entities like Twitter, Google, IBM, AT&T, NRA, and the PMRC acted as the perfect backdrop to the revolutionary hip-hop group's message of Shadowbox - to question authority and rebel against exploitative predatory corporations and the politicians that they've paid off to continue their rise to power at the expense of increasingly poorer working class of America.
In addition to Boots Riley and his full live band, the large scale production boasted numerous other artists joining the Coup on three stages (sometimes simultaneously) including Dead Prez, Classical Revolution, W. Kamau Bell, Mortar & Pestle, Snow Angel, Eat The Fish Presents, and Extra Action Marching Band. The choice of all of these artists, like the inclusion of Jon-Paul Bail's art work and the video projections and other stage designs by David Szlasa, was all the brainchild of Boots Riley. The Coup mainman has been a fan and friend of Bail's for many years and the inclusion of his art seemed like a no-brainer, he told the YBCA audience.
Run The Jewels - the super talented hip-hop power duo of El-P and Killer Mike - has just announced new tour dates along with track listings, contributing guests, and artwork details for their forthcoming sophomore release. With cover art almost the same as last year's self-titled debut on Fool's Gold (only in a different color), the new album on Nas' new Mass Appeal Records is slated for release on October 28th. Aptly titled RTJ2, the album will feature guest spots by Zack de la Rocha, Travis Barker, Diane Coffee, and BOOTS (note this is not Boots Riley of The Coup but BOOTS the sometimes Beyoncé collaborator).
The Run The Jewels has been attracting attention of late for their impressive recent tour sets, including a stop in the Bay Area last month at Outside Lands and the previous month in New York at the Governors Ball. They've also been garnering attention with new audiences care of Killer Mike's recent guest appearance on CNN, speaking out on the grander implications of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson (see video below).
Oakland author JR Valrey has just published his powerful second book - Unfinished Business: Block Reportin 2. The author/journalist/broadcaster/activist who is also known as the People's Minister of Information will be doing two Bay Area book readings this month in celebration of this second publication in an ongoing series at both of the Bay Area branches of the wonderful Marcus Books: at the San Francisco Marcus Books (1712 Fillmore St.) on February 13th, and at the Oakland Marcus Books (3900 Martin Luther King Jr. Way) on February 22nd.
Two years ago, during Black History Month 2012, JR Valrey acted as a guest Amoeblogger here and wrote an insightful piece titled The Black Experience Study Guide: My Top 7 Books, Movies, and Albums for Black History Month. That piece followed a profile/interview with Valrey from a couple of months earlier on the topic of his first book Block Reportin. This week I again caught up with the busy Oakland-based Valrey to talk about his latest book, its subjects, and some of the topics covered in it and his opinions on them.
Amoeblog: Is it fair to call Unfinished Business a sequel to / a continuation of your last book and does it continue that book's same format?
JR Valrey: I guess you can say that. The only continuity between Block Reportin" and Unfinished Business is that they are both books consisting of a compilation of interviews; interviews that I did as a print and broadcast journalist over the years. The third installment of the series, which is yet to be named, will include 28 interviews so that the total number of interviews that I have put out in book form will number 100.
Celebrate the eco-active spirit of California that John Muir helped to establish in our great state with O Zone, September 30th, when the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) will come alive with an evening of food, cocktails, music, performances, and eco-friendly activities that will inspire you to take action to save the environment. Learn how making small changes can have big consequences on conserving our natural world and discover ways to empower the adventurer/explorer/eco-pioneer in you.
Don't miss the Mustache and Beard Contest! OMCA is in search of the "Best John Muir Beard in the Bay!" Amoeba will be on hand with all sorts of giveaways and a Beard & Mustache Photobooth!
ALSO: get down to the beats of DJ Platurn who's spinning crucial tunes before headliner The Coup performs! Catch Whiskerman in an Oak Street Plaza acoustic set! Get in the gallery for an acoustic set with Conspiracy of Beards!