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. 


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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Hip-Hop Rap-Up, Week End 08.01.14: Amoeba Hollywood Top 5 Chart, Common, Cormega, Shabazz Palaces, Mix Master Mike + more

Posted by Billyjam, August 1, 2014 11:17am | Post a Comment
Common "Kingdom (feat Vince Staples)" (2014)

Amoeba Hollywood Hip-Hop Top 5 Chart Week Ending 08:01:14

1) Common Nobody's Smiling (Island/Def Jam)

2)  Quasimoto "Planned Attack" / Talkin' Shit" [Picture Disc] (7") (Stones Throw)

3) Madlib Rock Konducta 1 & 2 CD (Madlib Invasion)

4) Cormega Mega Philosophy (Slimstyle)

5) Madlib Pinata Beats (Madlib Invasion)

The brand new hip-hop chart from the Hollywood Amoeba Music store finds longtime Chicago emcee / actor / poet to the president  Common in the number one position with his tenth studio album Nobody's Smiling (Island/Def Jam).
Fittingly the theme of this latest full-length from the Windy City artist is Chicago itself in which, as the reviews, Common examines, "the city’s historically high crime rate but also its sense of pride, there’s no better man to take us through it than Common, whose career as an intellectually leaning yet nearly always relatable presence in hip-hop comes to maximum fruition on Nobody’s Smiling." And the ten track album, which Amoeba accurately calls "a fine return to form for Common," is indeed a strong album - one that should appeal to new and old school hip-hop heads -  that features fellow Chicago native No I.D.’s perfectly complimentary production along with well chosen guest spots from such artists as Big Sean, Elijah Blake, Jhené Aiko, Snoh Aalegra, Dreezy, Malik Yusef and Vince Staples (see video for his cameo on the track "Kingdom"  above) along with thought-provoking lyrics from Common (the master who brought us the classic "I Used To Love H.E.R.") like these from the title track:

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Album Picks: Alvvays, La Roux, Common, White Fence, The Raveonettes

Posted by Billy Gil, July 22, 2014 09:40am | Post a Comment

Alvvays - Alvvays (LP, CD)

alvvays lpSomewhere between the sunny melancholia of Best Coast, earnest alt-rock of The Cranberries and the college rock of bands like Talulah Gosh lie Toronto's Alvvays. Their debut record is a delight of heartfelt naivete spun out in catchy indie-pop nuggets. Molly Rankin's lovably untrained voice pleads irresistibly on the charming "Archie, Marry Me" amid a four-chord, minor-key jangle. "Don't leave ... we can find comfort in debauchery" Rankin sings with the requisite mix of winking irony and legitimate feeling; taken with the songs lovely synth strings and gently rambling nature, it comes off like future nostalgia for a time that's currently being experienced. Youth may be wasted on the young, but Alvvays make young sadness sound pure and sweet on their debut.


La Roux - Trouble In Paradise (LP, CD)

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