Park Blvd. Records and Tapes

Posted by Billyjam, November 29, 2015 02:30pm | Post a Comment

Bucking the trend of record stores closing up shop, Oakland's Park Blvd. Records and Tapes opened up shop at the start of this past summer. In the five plus months since that opening business has been brisk for the specialized record store that is part of a new music retail business model that seeks out a small but dedicated customer base. They've found their niche and, in turn, fans of that musical niche have found them and their new retail space. While the small record store carries several genres of popular music and mostly older era (examples include 80's hardcore punk 45's) Park Blvd. Records and Tapes' main focus is hip-hop/rap records and tapes. Those records and tapes (plus some CDs, DVDs, and books) feature quite a concentration of older classic hip-hop material including a good size ratio of Bay Area rap/hip-hop from the 90's.  Stocked with some select new hip-hop releases their customers, who travel from all over, are more interested in those specialty items that normally they might only find online or at well stocked stores like Amoeba Music. A quick glance around the store's vinyl display bins and cassette and CD shelves provides ample proof. The selection includes ample amount of classic early era Bay rap and hip-hop releases by such artists as Too $hort, IMP, Hugh E. MC, E-40, Mac Mall, C-BO, Mac Dre, Dre Dog / Andre Nickatina, Celly Cel, Digital Underground, Spice 1, 2Pac, Chunk, 11/5, 415, Souls of Mischief, RBL Posse, and Bored Stiff.  Stocking releases in various formats of bygone eras along with brand new nationally popular hip-hop releases from artists like Drake or Mac Miller, it is the speciality items that attract customers to their store. The 2014 Park Blvd., Oakland CA shop, whose name outside simply reads "Records and Tapes," was vacant for three years before its latest incarnation. Before that it was a fortune teller's place of business.  That was back when the old Parkway Theatre was still down the block a bit, and before relocating crosstown to 24th Street off Telegraph.

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Ed Lee Or Not To Be For Second Term? SF MCs Equipto & Dregs One Weigh In On San Francisco's Crucial 2015 Mayoral Election

Posted by Billyjam, November 2, 2015 09:00am | Post a Comment

Love him, hate him, or simply feel indifferent towards him, no one can deny that during the past (almost) five years of Ed Lee as Mayor of San Francisco the City by the Bay has been dramatically reshaped. Hence why tomorrow's November 3rd election for mayor of San Francisco, in which he is running for a second term, is considered so crucial.

Back on January 11, 2011, Ed Lee was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to serve out the remainder of former mayor Gavin Newsom's term. At the time no one thought much of it, believing Lee would carry on business as usual without making any significant changes. Wrong! In the half decade since taking office, Lee has made numerous changes and in so doing been roundly accused by his detractors (and there are many) of been beholden to big corporate money, all the while turning his back on San Francisco's longtime low-income residents.

In tomorrow's election Lee faces five different challengers who are united in their anti-Lee stance and push to a return for what's been labeled "a grassroots democracy" for San Francisco. In all the six candidates on the ballot for mayor of San Francisco are Kent Graham, Francisco Herrera, Ed Lee, Reed Martin, Stuart Schuffman and Amy Farah Weiss

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Hip-Hop Rap-Up: Amoeba Hip-Hop Top 5 Chart, Hiero Day 4 Preview, New Paris Video/Single From Forthcoming "Pistol Politics"

Posted by Billyjam, September 7, 2015 08:09am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Berkeley Hip-Hop Top 5 Chart: Week Ending 09:05:15

1. Dr. Dre Compton (Aftermath/Interscope)

2. Eligh 80HRTZ (Legendary/Crowsnest)

3. The Foreign Exchange Tales From the Land of Milk and Honey (Foreign Exchange Music)

4. Z-Man & Tahaj the 1rst "Flea Circus" (Solidarity)

5. Method Man The Meth Lab (Tommy Boy) (avail in LP)

Riding high off the buzz surrounding the new N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton, Dr. Dre's new album Compton  which has been selling extremely well despite some mixed reviews on the long awaited solo album (with many mic guest spots including Kendrick Lamar) from the high profile producer/ entrepreneur who first came to fame via N.W.A all those years ago.  Among the other top five chart entries from Amoeba's Berkeley store above include The Foreign Exchange Tales From the Land of Milk and Honey, Living Legends star Eligh's newest release 80HRTZ, Wu-Tang Clan member Method Man's The Meth Lab that is available from Amoeba in both CD and LP/vinyl formats, and Bay Area power duo of longtime unique emcee Z-Man (recently profiled on the Amoeblog) and producer Tahaj the First. These two Bay talents joined forces on Flea Circus that is available at the San Francisco and Berkeley Amoeba stores and is released via legendary underground San Francisco hip-hop crew Bored Stiff's prolific label Solidarity Records. Note that the SF group's main star Equipto (along with Otayo Dubb) will be among the performers at Hiero Day today - read on for more details. 

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Gifted & Prolific San Francisco Hip-Hop Artist Z-Man Both Raps And Paints, Creating All His Own Original Album Art Work

Posted by Billyjam, September 4, 2015 09:09am | Post a Comment

"There was a time when I asked myself should I draw all the album covers?" said Z-Man, quickly answering his own question. "Fuck it man! I'll do all the album covers - and others too! Yeah, it's a lot of work but it is so gratifying,"  grinned the longtime San Francisco hip-hop artist recently in an Amoeblog interview, while referring back to a previous period in his long, colorful, illustrious and richly varied and prolific career as both a painter and a hip-hop artist.

Some multi-talented rappers such as Lord Finesse or J-Live also DJ and produce their own albums but uniquely talented, but Z-Man has the distinction of painting all of his own album cover art too. And he has been doing so since day one when he hand drew the cassette cover art for his old Daly City based hip-hop crew 99th Demention's album release in 1996.

And ever since that premiere release, that will celebrate its 20 year anniversary next year, Z-Man he has been consistently doing both the music and cover art for his albums (and others) with the most recent examples being for 2014's The Opening Act (with Elon on Gurp City) and his brand new Solidarity Records release "Flea Circus" with producer Tahaj Edwards. In the photo on top  up above Z-Man is seen holding up the album cover's original art that he painted, like most of his work, at his cramped but creative Western Addition district San Francisco home studio in the home where he grew up. I recently stopped by Z-Man's home, in the building where he grew up as a child and has seen the area around him become gentrified.

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Record Release for New Z-Man Album "Flea Circus" - A Collaboration with Tahaj The First

Posted by Billyjam, August 5, 2015 06:58pm | Post a Comment

As most hip-hop heads in the Bay (and beyond) already know, San Francisco emcee Z-Man is one of the most talented and unique wordsmiths out there; albeit an underrated artist who ranks up there talent-wise with E-40 when it comes to channeling a brilliant mind into clever wordplay of the English language along with a generous dash of his own slanguage.  Z-Man possesses a gift for unleashing a non-stop flow of clever wordplay that is typically fun, party themed on the surface, but deep on the outset - the kind that demands repeated listens.  The artist is simultaneously a very gifted painter/artist who does most of his own album artwork dating back almost two full decades when he laced up the cover art for his nineties crew 99th Demention's debut tape and such other releases as the cover for 2003's Dope Or Dog Food. which was released via the Hieroglyphics label.    

"Z-Man is definitely one of the Bay Area's most underrated artists," concurred E-Lit at Amoeba Berkeley where whenever Z-Mainey (as he is also known) drops a new release it is in big demand for those who are hip to Z-Man's mic skills, many via his membership of the Gurp City crew or the many other Bay Area hip-hop entities he is down with including One League and Solidarity Records. In fact it is via the Bored Stiff (Equipto, White Mic, etc.) associated label that Z-Man is releasing his brand album with a record release party tonight at the (soon to close) Elbo Room in San Francisco. Entitled Flea Circus the album is a joint collaboration with gifted Bay Area producer Tahaj The First who produced the new GoodWord (of BPos) track that was featured here on the Amoeblog last week and who has showcased his diverse production skills working with such other artists as Otayo Dub and young mic spitter Gigio. For tonight's record release  (so new it has yet to arrive in Amoeba) Tahaj and Z-Man will celebrate with a live set performing tracks from the new album on a bill hosted by the aforementioned Equipto with live performances by Aukwin, Xiomara & the Headband, The People's Tree, and  Murk Sauce (that's Gurp City's Brycon and Eddie K), with Troubleman on the turntables. More info on the Elbo Room show here. And below is Z-Man's video for the track "Cupcakin" from with five years ago and featuring Eddie Def on the cuts.

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