Amoeblog

The 20 Best 1980's Hip-Hop Albums

Posted by Billyjam, May 26, 2014 12:00pm | Post a Comment

When fellow Amoeblogger Billy Gil, who has done a number of Best Of lists in various genres, invited me to do some hip-hop best-of lists I had mixed feelings about the task. While I love drawing up lists of my favorite hip-hop releases from different eras and regions, I know that no matter what I include or how I position/rate it, later I will feel some kind of regret thinking that maybe I should have included or excluded a release or not ranked it as high on the list. And I am sure there will be commenters who will have the same critical thoughts (a la "I can't believe you didn't include ______ or that you ranked____ as number one," etc.). Simply put, it is difficult to narrow down Best Of lists because firstly it's personal and subjective, and secondly because a list I (or you) may draw up today will be different from one we might compile in a year's time. Musical tastes and opinions, especially in retrospect, are constantly in flux for me anyway.

Furthermore, sometimes an album or a single will rate high on one list (depending on the category) but not so on another. An example from this list would be Too $hort who would rank up the top of a Bay Area list but lower on an overall hip-hop album list of the 80's. Then there are all of those amazing hip-hop singles that were only singles, non-album cuts, or were culled from albums that otherwise were not as strong overall. Or in the case of Malcolm McLaren's 1983 album Duck Rock, which technically is a diverse genre album with hip-hop content and packaged in a hip-hop fashion from its cover art to how it is meshed together by the Worlds Famous Supreme Team radio show, it doesn't technically qualify as a hip-hop album. Add to my not included on the list 80's albums: such compilations as Mr Magic's Rap Attack series since I tried to focus purely on artist (vs. compilation) releases with the exception of one soundtrack on the list. Anyway, to combat all of this, I plan on doing many more best-of hip-hop lists with the goal being to include as many titles of great records as possible overall.
 

Continue reading...

Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Hip-Hop Power Duo EPMD's 1988 Debut Album "Strictly Business"

Posted by Billyjam, April 15, 2014 12:34pm | Post a Comment
In hip-hop history 1988 was a pretty darn incredible year for landmark releases. Like 1987 it was another landmark time in the development of the genre - an era when hip-hop had shifted from its old-school second phase and had arrived into its new so-called "golden era" that would last through to 1992/1993.  A hip-hop group and album that personified this perfectly was and the power duo of EPMD and their flawless debut album Strictly Business.

Released in August of 1988 on Sleeping Bag Records Strictly Business (not to be confused with the 1991 movie of the same name with an LL Cool J song of the same name on its soundtrack) was the debut album from infamous New York hip-hop duo EPMD whose name stands for  "Erick and Parrish Making Dollars" and who are comprised of the emcee/production power pair of Erick Sermon and Parish Smith (aka PMD).  The album was reissued last year as Strictly Business 25th Year Anniversary Edition CD with five bonus tracks.

Although only ten songs in length the hip-hop styles displayed on Strictly Business - cool laid back rhymes over smooth funky beats that sampled an infectious blend of funk, soul, and rock - remain influential to this day and personify the creme de la creme of hip-hop's much celebrated "golden age" - something that EPMD kept going on their second album, Unfinished Business, the following year as well as on later releases (all in the "Business" titled series). Unlike albums of today, which tend to be smothered in guest emcees and producers, with the exception of DJ K La Boss (who added his turntablist skills to album track that bore his name), Strictly Business was purely the talents of Erick and Parish who both rapped in a similarly almost lazy-sounding, rolling, lyrical flow.

Continue reading...

New York State of Mind Amoeblog #39: Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, Latin Alt. Music Conf., NY Philharmonic Park Series + more

Posted by Billyjam, July 10, 2013 01:35pm | Post a Comment

On any typical week in New York City there's an amazing about of entertainment happenings to choose from but in the summer months that number expands to an almost overwhelmingly number of choices due to all the additional summer only NYC concerts/festivals/events that are typically outdoors during the hot New York summer months. [Note: this week the temps are hitting 90 degrees or more everyday]. In this 39th New York State of Mind (NYSOM) Amoeblog I will give a rough guide to some of the many events happening for the week ahead, including the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival and the Latin Alternative Music Conference, in the Big Apple. The above photo is of the Downtown Boathouse at Manhattan's Pier 40 where you can go kayaking for free. More info here on this wonderful summer resource that I will fully feature with interview in next week's NYSOM.

This evening (Weds July 10th) at 6pm in Central Park Panama by way of Oakland duo Los Rakas (who I interviewed for the Amoeblog in a previous visit they made East) will perform for free  at the Central Park SummerStage on a bill along with NYC rapper Fat Joe, and Cuarto Poder from Venezuela. The concert is one of the many during the Latin Alternative Music Conference (LAMC) that began yesterday and runs through the weekend. Other LAMC concerts include Mima at Joe's Pub tomorrow, and  Astro, Helado Negro, and American Royalty all at SOB's on Sunday (July 14). For more information on the concerts and the actual conference and panels visit the LAMC website.

Continue reading...

Rakim, EPMD, Lord Finesse, Jazzy Jay, & Cold Crush Brothers Among Those Doing Free Concerts In NYC's Parks This Week

Posted by Billyjam, August 21, 2011 09:57am | Post a Comment
The summer ain't over yet. Still lots good stuff happening in NYC. And sure, New York City in the summer can endure some extreme and unpredictable weather shifts that can unleash some unbearably hot and humid weather or thunderstorms that come out of nowhere, but that's all part of what makes it New York in the summer. Another defining factor is the jaw-dropping amount of amazing & free outdoor cultural events, especially all the music concerts in the parks. Of these there is no shortage of hip-hop free shows by legends of the genre such as the free SummerStage show in Central Park today (Aug 21) featuring Rakim, EPMD, and DJ Funkmaster Flex or the free Digger's Delight park jam on Tuesday evening (Aug 23) in St Nicholas Park up in Harlem with hip-hop icons Lord Finesse, GrandMaster Caz, Jazzy Jay, and Red Alert. Then on Wednesday evening of this week (August 24), there is a free concert by highly-influential and legendary hip-hop act the Cold Crush Brothers who will be downtown Manhattan on the bandshell in the East River Park.

Today's free SummerStage show, which starts at 3pm and goes til about 7pm, should be a goodie since it features Rakim, who many have called the greatest emcee in the history of the genre. It is also the 25th anniversary of Eric B & Rakim’s iconic album, Paid in Full which is considered to be among the top ten greatest hip-hop album of all time. EPMD's debut album, Strictly Business, is another golden-era hip-hop classic that makes many best of lists, as does their follow up Unfinished Business.  Funkmaster Flex will DJ at the start of the day and throughout the afternoon for which it is likely special guests will stop by. Last summer, I caught Public Enemy in the same spot. Earlier this summer, I saw Brazilian rapper Marcelo D2 on the same Central Park stage. Also this summer, I made it to two park jams at Queensbridge Park (another legendary spot in hip-hop's formative years) to see concerts from both N.O.R.E. and Kool Moe Dee. Each was really good, especially Kool Moe Dee. Then two weeks ago, I trekked over to Tappen Park on Staten Island to catch the Sugarhill Gang. While disappointing overall due to the fact that they spent most of their set doing covers of other old school acts, it was worth it to hear them do "Rapper's Delight" and it was free! Like today's Rakim & EPMD show, these were all part of the public funded City Parks Foundation Summerstage Series, which puts on a wide array of shows in the parks of each NYC borough every summer.

Continue reading...

For KRS-One's "What's In My Bag?" The Teacha Takes His DJ Son Shopping For Some Real Hip-Hop

Posted by Billyjam, March 20, 2011 04:24pm | Post a Comment
 KRS-One's "What's In My Bag?"

The KRS-One "What's In My Bag?" video above, filmed last summer in the hip-hop aisle at Amoeba Hollywood, opens with the hip-hop pioneer also known as The Teacha reading aloud the liner notes' shout-outs off the back of BDP's Edutainment album as his teenaged son (also named Kris Parker) listens intently and asks, sincerely puzzled, why was it then that his his dad gave special thanks to wack radio DJs (who he said fronted on BDP's previous album) and to then President George H. Bush. "I was being sarcastic and giving special thanks to people who just screwed up everything," explained his hip-hop icon dad, who throughout his active quarter of a century hip-hop career has never been at a loss for words.

This video segment was recorded about a week after KRS-One had done an instore reading of his book The Gospel of Hip Hop: First Instrument presented by KRS One for the Temple of Hip Hop (Powerhouse Books), at the LA Amoeba and right around the same time as his son's 18th birthday (August 9th). The primary goal of the Amoeba shopping trip was to get the younger Kris Parker set with some quality hip-hop music before joining his dad as his DJ for the then soon approaching Rock The Bells dates in LA, SF, and NYC. At the time not too many people were aware of KRS-One's son. In fact, most only knew of KRS's other, older (step) son Randy Hubbard Parker, who in 2007 was tragically found dead in his Atlanta apartment at age 23; he was reportedly the victim of an apparent suicide following a bout of severe depression.

<<  1  2  >>  NEXT