Amoeblog

Black History Month Leap Year Review: the Good, the Sad & the Bizarre

Posted by Billyjam, March 2, 2012 11:40am | Post a Comment

Among the "good" of this year's Black History Month was Robert Glasper's excellent
Black Radio album on Blue Note released Feb 28th, 2012


Maybe it's because this is a leap year that Black History Month 2012, which ended two days ago, seemed a little out of whack. Or maybe it was because it was a Black History Month that started on a really bad note when, on the morning of Feb 1st, the tragic news that Don Cornelius of Soul Train fame had taken his own life was the first thing we were to read about. That was bad enough but this tragic news came hot on the heels of the world losing a string of other black music/cultural icons, including in just the preceding two weeks both Etta James and JImmy Castor.  And then, of course, ten days later, on the eve of the Grammys, the whole world was taken aback with the shocking news that Whitney Houston had died at age 48. Not exactly a great time to joyously celebrate black history!

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As Proven By Amoeba In-Store with DJ QBert, Justin BUA's The Legends of Hip-Hop Displays Unbridled Respect for the Hip-Hop DJ

Posted by Billyjam, December 9, 2011 10:57am | Post a Comment
DJ Qbert & Justin BUA @ Amoeba Hollywood Nov 17, holding up the image of the DJ by BUA

Considering that Justin Bua's iconic 2001 The DJ poster art is the renowned contemporary artist's most recognizable piece of art (not to mention the best selling poster art of all time) it was most fitting that the artist known as BUA should have invited DJ QBert,  the world's greatest DJ artist, to join him at his recent Amoeba Hollywood instore on November 17th in honor of BUA's must-get new book The Legends of Hip-Hop (Harper Design) that includes DJ QBert among the fifty hip-hop figures carefully chosen by BUA as subjects that capture & represent the very essence of hip-hop culture in his eyes.

Described as an intimate look at the visionaries, the movers and the shakers, and the pioneers who have helped shape the world of hip hop signed copies by BUA and Qbert of this must get book are available online from Amoeba for $34.99. Among the diverse array of other hip-hop figures chosen by BUA to portray in his unique self-described Distorted Urban Realism style of art are Jay Z, James Brown, President Obama (hip-hop's first president), and  Run DMC (BUA joins DMC from the legendary hip-hop group at LACMA on Monday for another free event tied into his new book - for full info scroll down). In addition to Run DMC's late great DJ Jam Master Jay and DJ QBert, other DJs honored in the book include Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash.
 
BUA readily recognizes that without DJs, in particular Kool Herc who created hip-hop, there could be no hip-hop and he has always had great respect for turntable masters like QBert. "I grew up around DJs. I know DJs. I love hip-hop. I'm a  graffiti writer. I'm a b-boy and I just love this type of icon," he said of his iconic The DJ which "turned out to be one of the most popular poster images of all time." Of his inspiration to do The DJ art a decade ago he said, "I wanted to do something that was representative of my culture and that was it." Hence to have QBert perform at the Amoeba instore "was really awesome" he said via phone recently. "It was spectacular being there at Amoeba with DJ QBert and having both the real music heads and the art lovers all together in one place was a beautiful thing," said the proud New Yorker who has lived in LA for several years now, teaches Figure Drawing in the Fine Arts Department at the University of Southern California, and calls LA "the second best city in the world."

I asked BUA how tough was it narrowing down his subjects for The Legends of Hip Hop down to just 50 and were there many that he didn't get to include in the book? "Yes absolutely there were a lot of legends from a historical point of view that were not reflected in my book" he said due to space requirements noting how those included are all, "Personal legends without whom I wouldn't be the person I am and I think a lot of people in this culture wouldn't be the people they are without these people. Every single person in this book is a tsunami of the culture. In other words everyone in this book has affected the culture in a seminal way such as Run DMC. If you didn't have Run DMC then hip-hop doesn't go global. If you don't have no James Brown then there really is no hip-hop because we took all of his samples. We took all of his footwork. We took all of his grunts, his moves, his music and we use them on turntables. We use them to dance to. He is the most sampled artist in the history of hip-hop. So without people like that you don't have the culture."

A hardcover book that would make the excellent holiday or anytime gift for that true hip-hop fan The Legends of Hip-Hop is available from Amoeba for $34.99 - signed copies by Bua and QBert while supplies last. BUA's artwork is accompanied by an engaging autobiographical narrative in which he talks about the impact of each figure on him personally and hip-hop at large. As you might have guessed Public Enemy are also included in his book. "Oh yeah Public Enemy is in there," BUA told me, adding that. "In fact Chuck D actually wrote my forward which is a really beautiful forward." 

Hip-Hop Rap Up 10:08:11: Amoeba Hollywood Top 5, DJ Vajra wins DMC World Championship, ?uestlove in the Bay, Jive Records RIP, A-Plus Salutes Chili Peppers, G-Stack, Murs & Ski Beats, J-Boogie, A3C, DJ Shadow, Lupe Fiasco, + more

Posted by Billyjam, October 8, 2011 10:06am | Post a Comment

Ray Ricky Rivera @ Amoeba Hollywood with Hip-Hop Top 5 Week Ending 10/7/11


Amoeba Music Hollywood Hip-Hop Top Five for Week ending 10: 07: 11

1) J. Cole Cole World: The Sideline Story (Roc Nation)

2) Evidence Cats & Dogs (Rhymesayers Ent.)

3) 9th Wonder The Wonder Years (It's A Wonderful World Music Group)

4) Madlib No.12-Raw Medicine-Madlib Remixes (Stones Throw)

5) Blu Open (Nature Sounds)

Thanks for this week's Amoeba Hollywood hip-hop chart go to hip-hop recording artist & recent dad Ray Ricky Rivera (aka RRR) who really looks quite well rested (as you can see in above video) despite his sleep patterns been drastically altered of late -ever since he and his wife Lily had their young son Diego born a little over two months ago. Again congrats man! As RRR mentions the number one album at Amoeba, which is also the number one top selling album (of all genres) in the country this week, is the brand new J. Cole album Cole World: The Sideline Story on Roc Nation. In close second is supertalented LA hip-hop artist Evidence who came to fame as part of Dilated Peoples and is now down with the revered Rhymesayers crew with whom he was touring recently and who just released his recommended new album Cats And Dogs which also comes in a vinyl format. Another LA hip-hop treasure, Madlib, is among the other entrants in this week's Top Five (with Medicine Show #12) which is rounded out by releases from both 9th Wonder (The Wonder Years) and Blu (Open).

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The State of Turntablism/Skratch Music in 2011: Part 2 with Christie Z Pabon, DJ Slyce, DJ Quest, Snayk Eyez, DJ ALF, DJ Needlz, ThatKidNamedCee, & Jimmy The Hideous Penguin

Posted by Billyjam, October 7, 2011 12:26pm | Post a Comment
Coinciding with the ongoing 2011 DMC World DJ Championships happening currently in London, England at the 02 Arena's Indig02 this is the second in a two-part Amoeblog series on the current state of turntablism/skratch music (here's yesterday's Amoeblog). Note that the results for the DMC World DJ Championship battles (which end by midnight Friday, Oct 7th, UK time = 4pm West Coast time) will be published tomorrow in the Hip-Hop Weekly Rap Up Amoeblog. As you know turntablism is a musical form born out of hip-hop by the DJ but not given an actual name until  the mid nineties when DJ Babu coined the term turntablism to describe the DJ as a turntable manipulation artist - one as worthy of respect as any other musical instrumentalist. By that stage I personally had already been a convert for a good decade and a half to this infectious component of hip-hop music. In fact when I first heard hip-hop in its formative days I was drawn more to the DJ than the MC. And ever since I've been hooked on the sound of scratching and spellbound by beat juggling and all the other skilled moves that the DJ as mixer & turntable master so effortlessly throws down. To me this musical style, unique to hip-hop and whose pioneers included Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, and Grand Wizzard Theodore (creator of the scratch), has always been deserving of its own genre or at least sub-genre.  And as a diehard fan and supporter of DJ scratching from hip-hop's earliest days when I first heard in the late 70's through all the years later up to and beyond including that point when QBert altered the spelling of the word from scratch to skratch, I have thoroughly enjoyed closely following its evolvement; warmly witnessing turntablim/skratch music's creative growth as it blossomed with a seemingly never ending array of new sounds generated by an ever-progressing arsenal of new styles and techniques been added to this vibrant art form. 

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2011 DMC World DJ Championships, Happening Today & Tomorrow In London, Generates Both Interest & Discussion

Posted by Billyjam, October 6, 2011 01:47pm | Post a Comment


Today and tomorrow (Oct 6th & 7th) one of the most important events in hip-hop and DJ culture takes place in London: the 2011 DMC World DJ Championships at the 02 Arena's Indig02 in which the top hip-hop battle DJs from 21 countries (reppin' the USA is DJ Vajra - full DJ battle details above) battle it out in this Turntablist World Cup in three major battle categories: DMC World Final, DMC Battle for World Supremacy, and DMC World Team. Additionally this two day scratch DJ event will present a bunch of great showcases including ones by last year's DMC World Champ DJ Ligone from France, the 2003 Supremacy Champ DJ Tigerstyle, three time DMC World Supremacy Champ DJ Switch (who'll perform the piece: Concerto for Turntables), plus an anticipated triple threat set from the revered X-ecutioners' Total Eclipse, DJ Precision, & Rob Swift.
 
This year's DMC battle comes at a time when turntablism or skratch music seems to be on a comeback in popularity on a global level. It's always been popular but after its honeymoon with the mainstream in the late nineties it seemed somewhat dormant (in actuality it had just gone underground). But lately there's been a noticeable increased interest in DJ battles like the DMC and turntablist events like Ireland's annual Community Skratch Games of the past few years or the recent Thud Rumble presentedFader Fest in San Francisco with the reunited Invisibl Skratch Piklz as trio (QBert, D-Styles, Shortkut) and showcases from the likes of US DMC representative DJ Vajra. There seems to be a flurry of new turntablist releases lately too including ones from DJ ALF, Teeko, DJ Needlz, ThatKidNamedCee, Jimmy the Hideous Penguin, and DJ Quest who is about to release this month his latest turntablist album Cosmic Parasite (a collaborative effort with the two former bandmates from his original DJ crew Bullet Proof Scratch Hamster (BPSH) - DJ Cue and Eddie Def).

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