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Essential Records: The Pharcyde's 'Bizarre Ride II'

Posted by Billyjam, November 17, 2014 02:23pm | Post a Comment

The Pharcyde

Each person has their own personal way to judge and rate the music they love. For me the criteria for rating an LP an "Essential Record" includes two key qualities: first, it's an all killer, no filler album (no temptation to ever skip over any track); and secondly, it is such a quality release that it doesn't age one bit over time (the timeless factor). Sometimes an Essential Record gets even better over the years. Such is the case with The Pharcyde's remarkable 1992 debut album, Bizarre Ride II (Delicious Vinyl), which sounds even more amazing today than it did when I first heard it 22 years ago. I say this after playing the 57 minute record from start to finish twice in a row today, having not listened to it in a few years. Damn, that J-Swift-produced album is so incredibly good! It's packed with soul, passion, and richly varied but cohesive beats and flows - from jazzy to old school to next generation - with varying BPMs. But, most notably, the album was totally unlike anything else at the time.

In late 1992, the SoCal-based Delicious Vinyl record label released Bizarre Ride II within just a few weeks oThe Pharcyde Ya Mamaf fellow LA based hip-hop artist Dr. Dre's G-Funk classic, The Chronic. While the two landmark hip-hop releases may have been linked by timeline and geography, they could not have been further apart in sound and style. Even Bizarre Ride's wild, fun, cartoonish cover art set it apart as a record that did not take itself too seriously. The album effuses a feeling of nonstop fun all the way through, as proven by the numerous impromptu-sounding hilarious studio bits that were mixed in or left in the final recording, like at the end of "Ya Mama" where they are just riffing off of each other. Unique, too, is how many of the "skits" on Bizarre Ride sound like songs, such as the 2:10 long "Quinton's on the Way (Skit)" which is like a Louis Armstrong inspired jazz song that captures the guys having fun in the studio with their different sounding voices and tones perfectly in contrast with each other.

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Hip-Hop Rap-Up, Week End 05.09.14: Iggy Azelea, Nas, Drake, Eminem, YG, Dre's Beat$, PUTS, Zion I, Premier & Jakk Frost + more

Posted by Billyjam, May 9, 2014 08:57am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Hollywood Hip-Hop Top Five Chart: Week Ending 05:09:14


1) Nas Illmatic XX (Sony Legacy)

2) YG My Krazy Life (Def Jam)

3) Iggy Azelea The New Classic (Island/Def Jam)

4) Drake Nothing Was The Same (Cash Money)

5) Eminem The Slim Shady LP (Interscope)

Celebrating its twenty year anniversary is Nas' flawless, classic 1994 album Illmatic which has been especially reissued by Sony Legacy for the occasion as  Illmatic XX. The album, which includes such hip-hop timeless gems as "N.Y. State of Mind," "It Ain't Hard To Tell," and "The World Is Yours," by the Queensbridge emcee is this week's number one chart entry at the Hollywood Amoeba Music store, where also charting in the latest top five is another 90's rap classic: Eminem's 1999 megahit The Slim Shady LP (Interscope) which finds itself back in top sales this week at the SoCal store. Other current top five chart entries include Drake's Nothing Was The Same on Cash Money, and YG's My Krazy Life (Def Jam) which drew inspiration from various West Coast hip hop classics as Dr. Dre's The Chronic. Speaking of Dr. Dre, the famous former N.W.A. member/influential solo artist who has made a huge impact as a hip-hop producer, looks about to make his biggest (financial) mark as co-creator of the audio equipment and music-streaming service Beats Electronics known for the headphones that carry his name (Dre Beats) if the company, as has been reported over the past 24 hours, gets purchased by Apple at a reported $3.2billion price tag!

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Hip-Hop Rap-Up, Week End 08.09.13: Jay-Z, Rich Gang, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Dr Dre

Posted by Billyjam, August 9, 2013 04:30pm | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music Hollywood Top Five Week Ending 08: 09:13

1) Jay-Z Magna Carta Holy Grail (Def Jam)

2) Kanye West Yeezus (Def Jam)

3) Kendrick Lamar good kid, m.A.A.d city (Aftermath)

4) Rich Gang Rich Gang (Cash Money)

5) Dr Dre The Chronic (Interscope)

Among the latest top five chart entries at the Amoeba Hollywood store this week is the guest heavy Rich Gang compilation full-length that comes from from Young Money and Cash Money - aka rap supergroup the Rich Gang that was carefully assembled by Birdman. And it has been selling well since it arrived in the LA store on July 23rd ℅ Young Money Entertainment, Cash Money Records, and Republic Records. Young Money fans will already love it based on its contributors The album contains contributions from several label members as well as others - many others. Even as hip-hop features go (and there are a lot of artist albums inundated with guest feature spots) this album not only has numerous but they're a pretty diverse bunch too ranging from Limp Bizkit to Rick Ross, Busta Rhymes to Kendrick Lamar, Future to French Montana, Mystikal to Nicki Minaj,   R. Kelly to Bow Wow and more. With that "more" including Flo Rida, Chris Brown, Yo Gotti and Meek Mill Rich Gang is a virtual who's who of contemporary rap. Radio and club DJs have already been bumping the lead single "Tapout" for a couple of months. That video is below along with videos from the other current Amoeba Hip-Hop Top Five Chart entries including from Kanye West (Yeezus),  Kendrick Lamar (good kid, m.A.A.d city), and (return classic) Dr Dre's The Chronic. In place of something off of the ever popular new Jay-Z Magna Carta Holy Grail  is the artist's just unveiled Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film.

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Dido's New "Girl Who Got Away" Available from Amoeba on March 26th in Regular and Deluxe Versions

Posted by Billyjam, March 25, 2013 02:10pm | Post a Comment

Dido "Girl Who Got Away" (acoustic version of the title track of the UK singer/
songwriter's new album Girl Who Got Away available from Amoeba March 26th)

Dido returns to the shelves of Amoeba Music tomorrow (March 26th) with her brand new album Girl Who Got Away on RCA Records. Available in both regular and Deluxe CD versions, Girl Who Got Away is the UK artist's fourth album to date and her first since 2008's Safe Trip Home. With production courtesy of her brother/frequent collaborator Rollo Armstrong - in addition to Brian Eno, Jeff Bhasker, Rick Nowels, and Greg Kurstin - the 11 track (17 on the DeLuxe version) new album of self-penned songs spans folk, ambient, dance, electro infused pop, and hip hop. In addition to such tracks as the lead single "No Freedom" (see video below) critics have been lauding praise upon the new album track "Let Us Move On" that features an engaging guest feature from hip-hopper of the moment Kendrick Lamar.

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Ice T Well Prepared For Critiques of his "Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap" Documentary at UK Premiere

Posted by Billyjam, July 24, 2012 07:07am | Post a Comment


Ice T
's critically acclaimed, independently produced, hip-hop history documentary Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap, which opened in the States last month, just opened here in Europe on Friday last. The evening before (July 19) there were a series of premiere screenings in London and other select European cities including Dublin, Ireland when I caught it at the IFI (Irish Film Institute) where the film was followed immediately by a Q+A & concert performance via live satellite from London's Hammersmith Apollo. There Ice T, along with Melle Mel, Chuck D, and Raekwon were all in town for the UK debut. During this Q+A from the audience (a tough crowd) Ice T fielded most of the questions in which he spent a fair amount of time in defense of his great film: something he was well able to handle.

But first the movie which I had heard and read all about and was most anxious to view. I thought it was really excellent; especially on the big screen with the film's ample use of panoramic aerial views of NYC, LA, and Detroit, all lovingly shot in breathtaking widescreen at various times of the day from helicopter, that nicely broke up the dialog segments of  the documentary.

Sure the film didn't have all my favorite rappers in it but it was not my film, it was Ice T's. And as the OG (original gangsta) turned rapper, turned actor, turned filmmaker - stated before the film was even screened at Sundance earlier this year; he was not trying to represent all things rap (especially the bling & swag elements) but rather simply focus on the art of the rapper / emcee, and from his own personal perspective. This he did in loving detail, casually catching up with old friends in the rap game, and having them spit a verse or two from their own or other rapper's favorite rhymes, and share a little insight on how they approach their craft. In all 47 artists made the final cut including such talents as Afrika Bambaataa, Rakim, Raekwon, Ice Cube, Chuck D, Snoop Dog, Kool Keith, KRS-One, Eminem, Q-Tip, Chino XL, Grandmaster Caz, and Melle Mel - the latter two getting perhaps the most shine and props in the film. 

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