Amoeblog

Renewed Relevancy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Speeches & The Music They Inspired

Posted by Billyjam, January 16, 2017 02:11pm | Post a Comment
Martin Luther King Jr.
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character"
- MLK

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." - MLK


These two above famous American history quotes, each from the same speech from 54 years ago, take on a renewed relevancy in January 2017 on this Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in the current uncertain political climate. No doubt the 1963 March On Washington, at which MLK gave his famous speech to a sea of peaceful protesters, will be in the minds of those participating in this weeks Women's March on Washington.

Taking place on Saturday January 21st 2017, the post inauguration day protest organizers announced that, due to the swelling number of confirmed participants, that they are now expecting 200,000 people at this weekend's march which is the same number that marched back in 1963 when MLK spoke. Similarly with the 1963 March on Washington, which King stressed was about equality for all, the message of the Women's March is about rights for all with the motto is "The RIse of the Woman = The Rise of the Nation."

At Amoeba's three stores you'll find various collections of speeches by Martin Luther King Jr. And / or visit the online store's Martin Luther King Jr. section where you'll find such collections as In Search Of Freedom (9 track CD includes "I Have A Dream" and "Police Brutality Will Backfire"), the Wisdom of Martin Luther King Jr.  2 CD set, and The Martin Luther King Jr Tapes that is another collection that includes the historic "I Have A Dream" speech from August 28th, 1963. Also found at Amoeba are artists who either dedicated music to the legacy of MLK or artists who sampled his speeches in their music. Besides the content of his speeches, as a great orator who spoke in perfect rhythm, makes for a perfect speechmaker to sample over beats.

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Hip-Hop And The 2016 Presidential Election

Posted by Billyjam, November 8, 2016 05:03am | Post a Comment
Nov. 8th: Following what has to go down as the most divisive, emotionally draining and drawn out, media saturated, presidential campaign in American history, we've finally arrived at November 8th, Election Day 2016. Polls are open 7am to 8pm today in California and from 6am to 9pm in New York. Vote for whomever you believe in, but be sure to get out and vote unless you are among the demographic of early voters who've already handled their business. 

In viewing this election process from a hip-hop perspective and judging what candidate has been most associated with the musical genre, the answer seems pretty clear, starting with who it is not. It sure wouldn't be the one whose racist rhetoric inspired one of the most popular party jams of this past summer: YG featuring Nipsey Hussle's "FDT (Fuck Donald Trump)" off YG's mid June released album Still Brazy (Def Jam). Indeed from early on hip-hop seemed unlikely to side with the candidate who had built his campaign upon the relentless, yet ultimately redundant, questioning of the legitimacy of the birth place of America's "first hip-hop president."

Further Trump's campaign appearing both anti-Hispanic and anti Black Lives Matter, sure didn't give him much chance of converting diehard hip-hop followers. Nor did the lawsuit-happy Orange one's long list of litigation threats that included one against popular rapper Mac Miller. Back in 2011 Mac Miller recorded the song called "Donald Trump" (making reference to riches, nothing political) for his Best Day Ever mixtape (avail on LP) that went on to become a platinum hit and to date racked up 117 million video views. At first Donald Trump said he liked the song. But later he flip-flopped and threatened to sue the rapper (he still has not) over use of his name in the hit song. Unimpressed but inspired to fire back, Mac Miller blasted Trump back at that time. Fast forward to last December, right before the televised Republican presidential debate, Mac Miller revived his counter attack via Trump's favorite fighting ground, Twitter, by posting to his 5.75 million followers: "Please just don't elect this m**therfucker man"

Of course Mac Miller isn't the only rapper to diss Trump. Many have done so in song, especially over the past year, including The Game in the track "El Chapo" with Skrillex, off his 2015 album The Documentary 2.5 Collectors Edition, on which he rapped: "knock Donald Trump out his toupee." However it should be noted that traditionally in the pre-political days of Trump, especially the early nineties when his image was just that of rich businessman, the Donald's countless rap song mentions, that even included A Tribe Called Quest and Digital Underground, were all highly complimentary with his name been utilized simply to symbolize wealth.

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Ava DuVernay's "Selma" & New Mike Brown/Ferguson Documentary Share MLK's Message of A Need For Change

Posted by Billyjam, January 11, 2015 11:49pm | Post a Comment

David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Ava DuVarney directed Selma


There's a memorable scene in the new film Selma where "A Change Is Gonna Come" comes on the car radio in the background - kind of faintly but still enough to hear it and to feel the soul of the song thanks to both the late great Sam Cooke's hauntingly beautiful voice and the powerful message of a promise of hope that the 1963 recorded song delivers. That desired need for change for African Americans is something that is as relevant today as it was five decades ago! Indeed the release of the new Ava DuVarney directed film Selma could not be more timely; and not just that it was scheduled to open coming up on Martin Luther King Jr. Day but considering how the issues of civil rights for African Americans in the sixties, that are the subject of this wonderful film, have become so ever-relevant again in 2015.

Opened to wide release on Friday (Jan 9, 2015) the emotionally charged film is a dramatization of the Selma to Montgomery, Alabama voting rights marches of 1965 that were led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (played to perfection by British actor David Oyelowo in an Oscar worthy performance) and by members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Furthermore for me personally the timing of catching a screening of Selma this past week was even more perfect since earlier on that very same evening, at The National Black Theatre in Harlem, I had attended a screening of a similarly themed but totally different film; the incendiary new documentary The Mike Brown Rebellion: Resistance in Ferguson. That low-budget - yet nonetheless powerful - DIY documentary, produced by the NYC based Rebel Diaz Arts Collective who had traveled down to Ferguson, Missiouri in the days following the August 2014 police shooting death of the unarmed Mike Brown, succeeded in its goal of presenting an alternate, front-lines perspective view of that put forward by the mainstream news outlets, as well as a making a lasting "tool for education and starting discussions around policing…" In fact immediately following the screening of the film in Harlem, that was presented by the Zulu Nation, those in attendance including one of the filmmakers Rod Starz and hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa joined a discussion on the topics raised in the documentary. 

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20 Years Ago Common Released His Landmark Second Album "Resurrection"

Posted by Billyjam, October 26, 2014 04:28pm | Post a Comment

Hard to believe that it is twenty full years since Chicago emcee, poet (like his father), actor (which seems to have eclipsed his music career), Grammy winner, one time J Dilla roommate, and recent Amoeba What's In My Bag? subject (see video below) Common released his landmark album Resurrection that included, among such other amazing album tracks, the instant hip-hop classic "I Used To Love H.E.R." Although Resurrection was the first album by the artist then known as Common Sense to gain national widespread attention, it was actually his second album. 1992's Can I Borrow A Dollar? was his premiere full-length release and it portrayed an artist still finding his voice. Fast forward 22 years to July of this year to the release of Common's tenth studio album, Nobody's Smiling, and it's clear he honed that artistic voice.

The album, which includes such tracks as "Thisisme," "Book Of Life," and "Watermelon," spawned two singles: the title track that was released six weeks after the album dropped and  "I Used to Love H.E.R." that was the album's lead single released four weeks in advance of Resurrection. It is that single - one that still gives me goosebumps to this day when I listen to it - that singularly grabbed the hip-hop nation's attention twenty years ago and distinguished Common as an artist to be reckoned with. Via clever wordplay in "I Used to Love H.E.R," Common addresses hip-hop in the guise of a woman that he used to love but who has gone through many changes over the years including Afro-centric rap and (of course) gangsta rap, which at that time had pretty much taken over as the driving force in the genre commercially - particularly with the rise of G-Funk.

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New "What's In My Bag?" Episode With Common

Posted by Amoebite, October 23, 2014 07:37pm | Post a Comment

Common at Amoeba Hollywood

You definitely don't have to be a fan of Common to appreciate what he has been able to achieve over the past two decades. He went from humble beginnings as an underground emcee on the Southside of Chicago to a GRAMMY winning rapper and high profile actor in Hollywood. With the recent release of Nobody's Smiling, Common has achieved another milestone few artists can claim (aside from being one of the few rappers interviewed by Oprah) - growing his discogrophy to album number 10. 

Common

Teaming up with producer and former Kanye West mentor No I.D. (aka "the Godfather of Chicago Hip Hop"), Common delivers a stellar album depicting the struggles and tragic conditions that plague Chicago today. The album's context is in line with what fans came to love about Common. In the early '90s, when gangsta rap was taking over radio and selling millions of records, Common stuck to his jazz influenced raps, bringing the "Golden Era" of hip hop to the new millenium. Jay-Z and Drake may rule the Billboard charts, but it's Common who gains the respect of fans from the underground and the mainstream.  

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