Remembering San Francisco MC African Identity + How You Can Help His Family

Posted by Billyjam, September 16, 2015 02:26pm | Post a Comment

Late last night Pam the Funkstress posted a sad social media update to her Instagram and Facebook pages with the news that fellow veteran Bay Area hip-hop artist African Identity, who rose to fame in the early nineties with his firebrand mic skills and hardcore political hybrid style, had died yesterday, September 15th, 2015. In addition to her update, including noting how she had just seen him in the past month, Pam posted the above photo of the late great artist for whom no cause of death has yet been announced. The Fillmore, San Francisco emcee named Hunafa, but known to most as African Identity and sometimes as just Identity, will be remembered for such releases as Ransom Note and You Won’t Come To My Funeral. By the time his debut album You Won’t Come To My Funeral was released in 1995 the microphone master was already a respected mainstay on the healthy 1990's Bay Area hip-hop scene - ever since arriving with a bang in 1992 with his acclaimed single, “Let’s Get It On (Pullin That Trigger).”

In the capacities of hip-hop journalist, radio DJ, and concert producer I worked directly with African Identity on numerous occasions throughout the decade of the nineties and always knew him to be both a good person and most talented (albeit largely underrated) artist, especially when it came to flexing his freestyle skills. In the first half of that decade I would have him as a regular guest on my KUSF hip-hop radio show on the USF campus, not far from where he lived. I remember how listeners really appreciated his improv rhyme skills and how they nominated him as the “number 1 Bay Area freestyler" on the now defunct San Francisco radio station. Meantime over at KMEL African Identity had been nominated as the first runner up in their heated Battle Of The Rappers. With a now eerie sounding reference to his own funeral, the San Francisco artist's debut album, You Won't Come to My Funeral, was a largely slept-on, talent-packed Bay Area hip-hop gem. It featured an impressive roster of his peers as guests that included Pam the Funkstress' group The Coup, Del tha Funke Homosapien (who also did some production), the GLP's JT Tha Bigga Figga, and D-Moe, Shock G of Digital Underground, Young Woo, Psycho Gangsta, Double D, Cisco The Frisco Mack, Blackbook, and Screwface. Produced mostly by Nick Peace but with some additional studio work by Del and J-Mack, the album defined both the Bay Area sound at the time as well as that of the artist himself. In the period right before its mid-nineties release he summed up the richly diverse 14 track album as “enlightening, tantalizing, sensational, provocative, political, Afro-centric, Euro-centric, it’s everything that we are....”.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Del Promotes Hieros & Freestyles in Rare January 1993 KUSF Clip

Posted by Billyjam, September 8, 2015 11:45pm | Post a Comment

Inspired by Hiero Day, I just digitized and uploaded this old short interview and freestyle from Del who was the Hiero crew's lead ambassador back then. Del, who also created that instantly identifiable Hiero logo, introduced most hip-hop ears to the Hieros via his 1991 album I Wish My Brother George Was Here single "Mistadobalina" 12" B-side only track "Burnt" that featured members of the then unknown Oakland extended hip-hop crew, the Hieroglyphics. In this January 10th, 1993 interview the Oakland artist born Teren Delvon Jones takes the shine off himself and makes a point of giving mad love to his fellow crew members by plugging the 1993 debut album releases from both the Hieros' Souls of Mischief and Casual. Note that this was at a time when really not too many knew much about the Heiroglyphics hip-hop collective, who they all were, nor ever guessed how important they would go on to become two plus decades later. It was also fitting and prophetic that Del would focus so much on those two fellow Hiero albums by both Casual and the Souls since, combined with his post-cousin Ice Cube produced (read totally different sounding), they would define the sound of the so-called Hiero Golden Age.

Originally aired on KUSF during a blunted hip-hop special I produced, I invited Del because I knew he liked to smoke and he could play some exclusive tracks from his forthcoming second album No Need For Alarm. But more than promoting his own album that was expected to drop in the coming few months (it did not finally get released by Elektra until late November of that year), Del was more interested in talking about the Souls and Casual whose forthcoming releases he was clearly excited about. In mentioning the '93 Souls debut album '93 Til Infinity, he said it would be out in the coming few months when in fact it did not get released for another eight full months in September of 1993. Meanwhile the Casual album would be released in 1993 in turned out. It was not until the following year, 1994, when Jive would release Casual's debut album Fear Itself. In the brief clip you will hear Del, who I introduced as Del tha Funkee Homosapien (note later spelling would be Del the Funky Homosapien), say how his name is Del and "the group is tha Funkee Homosapien." He then goes on to spread Hiero love and spit a great freestyle. Hear below.

Hip-Hop Rap-Up, Week End 12:21:12: Yancey Boys, DJ Shadow, DJ Nu-Mark, RBL Posse, Hieros, Guilty Simpson & Apollo Brown + more

Posted by Billyjam, December 21, 2012 08:40pm | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music Berkeley Hip-Hop Top Five: Week Ending 12:21:12

1)   DJ Nu-Mark Broken Sunlight (Hot Plate Records)

After releasing a series of sought after 10” singles, DJ Nu-Mark of Jurassic 5 drops his long-awaited official long-player.  The album pits Nu-Mark’s simple funky production next to a diverse range of soul and hip hop artists, including Charles Bradley, Aloe Blacc, J-Live, Quantic, and Large Professor!  Soul with a twist.  Broken Sunlight on Hot Plate Records is a triple disc release that includes a second disc with instrumentals, acapellas and clean versions and a DVD with a feature film on Nu-Mark’s life on the road.  All in time for the holidays!

2)  S3 Supa Soul Shit (Melting Pot Music)

This new import CD/LP is the brainchild of Kansas City soul singer Miles Bonny and European beat maven Brenk Sinatra.  Miles Bonny croons some smooth soulful tunes over Brenk’s equally buttery production, which mixes dreamy electronic beats with some nice soul samples.  Fans of Frank Ocean will likely lose their shit over this one!

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Hip-Hop Rap-Up: 09.07.12: Top 5, Matthew Africa, Love Vibes, Hieros @ Oakllandish, Los Rakas @ Independent + more

Posted by Billyjam, September 7, 2012 08:20am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Hollywood Hip-Hop Top Five Week Ending 09:07:12

1) JJ DOOM Key to the Kuffs (Lex Records)

2) 2 Chainz Based on a T.R.U. Story (Deluxe Edition) (Def Jam)

3) 2 Chainz Based on a T.R.U. Story (Def Jam)
4)  Nas Life is Good (Def Jam)

5) Aesop Rock Skelethon  (Rhymesayers)

The latest top five hip-hop chart from Amoeba Hollywood this week is pretty consistent with the last few weeks at each Amoeba with the top sellers including the highly recommended new albums from Nas ( Life is Good), Aesop Rock, (Skelethon ), and DOOM's (formerly MF Doom) latest outing with producer Jneiro Jarel as JJ DOOM - Key to the Kuffs which I was surprised to hear some DOOM fans were not feeling upon first listen. I really like it and believe it stands side by side in quality with his previous work and that Jneiro's production compliments DOOM - and the other guests - perfectly. My personal favorite tracks are "Banished," "Guv'nor," "Borin' Convo," Dawg Friendly," and the opening sample heavy, album intro track "Waterlogged."  Again on this week's Amoeba chart are both versions of 2 Chainz Based on a T.R.U. Story (regular and the Deluxe Edition) from the ever popular artist who was among those featured performers at last night's MTV's Video Music Awards (VMA).

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Hiero Imperium Summer Tour Announced

Posted by Billyjam, June 20, 2012 06:52pm | Post a Comment

Add to your list of must-attend summer concerts the just-announced Hiero Imperium Summer Tour 2012, featuring performances by Souls of Mischief, Pep Love, Casual, plus special guests along the way. The four-week Western US tour, that kicks off July 19th in San Diego at the House Of Blues, will take them from Cali to Washington, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, and Nevada, winding up on August 18th at the Country Saloon in Las Vegas.  What makes this sixteen date tour worth attending is the fact that it is most prolific year yet from the two-decade old collective. Recently five of the Hieros have released solo albums - and they're real good too - including Casual (He Still Think He Raw), Pep Love (Rigmarole), Phesto Dee (Background Check), Opio (Vulture's Wisdom Vol. 2), and Tajai (Machine Language).

In addition to these new solo projects, they also have, as a crew, a grip of new songs to perform on this tour. "I'm looking forward to doing the new material the most, with the new albums from Pep, Casual, Opio, Phesto, and me," the Souls' Tajai said adding that of all the dates on the tour that their hometown show (the non nightclub stop on the tour and the only Bay Area show) on August 4th is one he is really looking forward to. "I'm excited to rock the hometown Art And Soul Festival. Oakland, USA!" For disappointed fans of Del The Funky Homosapien, whose name is noticeably absent from this Hiero tour line up, note that you can catch the most famous HIero in concert in the East Bay this weekend at the High Times 2012 Medical Cannabis Cup at the Craneway Pavilion at 1414 Harbour Way South. The event runs both weekend days but Del performs at the Saturday night party along with Smoke Dza, and others. For more info on the Cannabis Cup. And for more info on the Hiero Imperium Summer Tour 2012. 

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