Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Digital Underground Spin-off Acts

Posted by Billyjam, July 21, 2015 06:14pm | Post a Comment

From when they first formed in the East Bay in the late 1980s, the funk/rap/hip-hop ensemble Digital Underground (DU) was as much a collective of creative-minded artists as simply a singular rap group. As such, these young P-Funk disciples tended to have an ever-rotating stable of members and associated artists. Digital Underground, whose consistent core members over their two-decade timeline were Shock G (aka Humpty Hump, aka M.C. Blowfish) and Money B, spawned several spinoff acts in their prime years (circa '88 - '93) that included most notably a dancer and roadie turned actor and rap superstar Tupac Shakur or 2Pac, Raw Fusion (DJ Fuze and Money B), Gold Money (who were also signed to Tommy Boy for a minute, but long enough to do the cool money-themed promo items pictured below), Saafir (f/k/a The Saucy Nomad), female emcee/singer Mystic (who was also down with Conscious Daughters), and Pee Wee. Pee Wee, who was part of the aforementioned Gold Money along with Bigg Money Odis, would go on to produce for 2Pac as well as being a member of another Bay Area collective, Too $hort's extended Dangerous Crew rap family.

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Money B & Chopmaster J Remember Tupac On What Would Have Been Shakur's 40th Birthday

Posted by Billyjam, June 16, 2011 11:37am | Post a Comment

Were he alive Tupac Amaru Shakur (aka 2Pac), who was fatally shot in Las Vegas in September 1996, the phenomenally popular rapper & actor would be celebrating his 40th birthday today, June 16th, 2011. At the Rockit Room in San Francisco tonight Sellassie and a bunch of other local hip-hop artists will celebrate the event in a concert honoring the slain local rap hero who, while born in Harlem & raised in both NYC and Baltimore before relocating West in the late 80's, began his rap career in the Bay Area. And many others will be thinking of Tupac Shakur today too, from the millions of diehard 2Pac fans all over the world, to family and friends including his former crew members in Digital Underground; the legendary Bay Area hip-hop crew that Shakur came to fame in. 2Pac joined Digital Underground, at a young age, first as a roadie and backup dancer and then as a rapper which, in turn, helped kick start his extremely successful, illustrious, and ultimately tragic solo career.

This week I caught up with both Digital Underground's Jimi "Chopmaster J" Dright, who along with Shock G and Kenny K co-founded the group in 1987, and with  Money B, who along with DU's DJ Fuze also formed the side-project Raw Fusion,  to ask them each about Tupac. After all it was their ever-talented & most unique P Funk-fueled hip-hop crew, that took Pac under their wing and into their fold when he was a mere bright young teenager from the Marin City projects with a knack for writing poetry.

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Hip-Hop History: 1991 Rap Radio, When Ice Cube, Main Source, LL Cool J, Gang Starr & Digital Underground Ruled Hip-Hop's Airwaves

Posted by Billyjam, March 23, 2010 10:59pm | Post a Comment

Back in early 1991, as witnessed by the various top ten hip-hop radio charts below from that period, the popular hip-hop of the day was a pretty darn diverse selection of the genre, especially in comparison to what counts for popular hip-hop today. Although the period technically fell under hip-hop's so-called "golden age," as typified by such chart entries below as Gang Starr, A Tribe Called Quest and Main Source, there were many other specific rap flavors also represented. These many different styles sharing the spotlight back then included feminist rap (Yo-Yo's "Dope Femininity" -- the B-Side of "Stompin To The 90s" -- is on the charts as well as tracks by female rappers Nasty and Monie Love), uplifting, feel good party rap (Digital Underground's "Same Song" featuring 2Pac), traditional battle rap (LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out"), weed themed rap (Cypress Hill, who had a head start on the "blunt era" of hip-hop by a good 18 months with this pre-album release version), new jack swing (Father MC), socially conscious rap that pushed for change and equality (Kool G Rap's "Erase Racism" and the Human Education Against Lies -- aka H.E.A.L. project), as well as the more intense Afro-centric or hardcore political rap (Paris, X-Clan, Intelligent Hoodlum, King Sun, Consolidated), and of course gangsta rap (NWA) and player rap (Too $hort). Meanwhile, Ice Cube's incredible December 1990 released EP Kill At Will, featuring such tracks as "Dead Homiez" and "Jackin for Beats," transcended one individual style, and instead melded political with hardcore and gangsta.

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Posted by Billyjam, June 27, 2007 08:45am | Post a Comment

And the media item today most likely to both help generate interest in a drug previously not too popular and also most likely speed up changes in its legal status is the front page article in Wednesday June 27th's San Francisco Chronicle about the Mexican "sacred weed," Salvia Divinorum, with a bold heading about the LEGAL, INTENSE, HALLUCINOGEN that reportedly "when chewed or smoked causes intense hallucinations comparable to LSD or "magic mushrooms" and "is available all over the Bay Area, mostly in smoke shops and herbal stores."

It's also sold over the Internet. For $15 to $50 a hit users get high that sends them into a dreamlike state for anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or two. The article appears online under the heading "The Legal Hallucinogen" at sfgate. My guess is that it will all sound most appealing to those looking for a new high (except for the $50 a hit part !!!!) especially due to the fact that it is still legal, just like LSD was up until 40 years ago -- the end of the Summer of Love.

The Chronicle article goes on to mention how many videos of folks gettin' twisted on this short but intense high drug are being posted on YouTube. This fact will no doubt send the curious (like myself) to search on YouTube where my quick SEARCH this morning under "Salvia divinorum" netted a total of 173 video postings including "Her Salvia Divinorum Trip 20 X First Time" --  a homemade video of a girl getting wasted and being filmed by her male friend.

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A hug for BillyJam

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, June 21, 2007 10:40am | Post a Comment
Grabbing up Billy on the quick, and taking you on the wayback machine: there was a place called Leopold where all folks came together for the MUSIC, and no one played any gang bullshit in them walls. Why not? Not totally sure. Could it happen today? Prolly not. Ten years change a world, ten years can erase a street.

The fun and the cameos from old school Leopold Records employees:

Point is, man they had a lot to say about life. Really pure. So, I wish I could embed Kiss Me and I'll Kiss You Back, cause that also had some wonderful staff in it, but whatcha gonna do. Anyway, a shout out to Daria who brought in Hammer when it was tapes in his trunk for commission, and even more so on the long term Yeh Yeah: bringing in the Digital Underground and help blowing them up as well.

Good times, friends. Good times. For those new to the Bay, the scene, whatever you want to call it? Coolest thing was, when Amoeba Berkeley opened up a few blocks from Leopold? It was all love, baby. No sense of competition or us vs. them. How rare is that?? Now, chunklets of us work at Amoeba (woot, wooooooot!) and maybe even own a piece. (Not me, baby!) Kisses to the joynts that do it all for the right reason, including a little shout out to a store in Austin Texas!