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Hip-Hop Gives Back to Skid Row with Free 1/15 Concert feat. Public Enemy, Cypress Hill, Kurupt, King T, Kid Frost, Egyptian Lover + more

Posted by Billyjam, January 5, 2012 10:40am | Post a Comment
Dubbed as both the Operation Skid Row Music Festival and the Occupy Skid Row Music Festival, on January 15th Chuck D and Public Enemy along with a dozen or more (mostly old school LA) hip-hop acts will put on a free concert for the down-on-their-luck residents of Los Angeles' desolate Skid Row district. The list of other performers for this wonderful free all afternoon event, that will also be open for free to anyone from anywhere who wishes to attend, includes Cypress Hill, Kurupt from the Dogg Pound, Mellow Man Ace and Zzyzzx, King T, Rapper's Rapp Group, Sir Jinx and General Population, OG Kid Frost, L.A. Posse, and the Egyptian Lover. What makes this concert significant is that all of these artists have agreed to perform for free as a an unselfish token in this new year for the homeless population of LA's famed Skid Row area which contains one of the largest stable populations of homeless persons in the USA. A 2011 study estimated that Skid Row's population was at over 4300 people!

As with so many of the worthy events and happenings associated with Skid Row that I hear about this one too is also linked directly back to General Jeff - the longtime LA hip-hop figure, friend of Amoeba, hip-hop golden age recording artist, & community activist/tireless supporter of the rights of LA's Skid Row community. General Jeff (real name Jeff Page) is Resident Director for Central City East/ Skid Row & is on the Board of Directors for the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council as well as being VP of Outreach and Communications and is always down to volunteer his time, skills, and endless energy to the worthy residents of Skid Row with whom he has worked on behalf of for years. This morning I caught with General Jeff, who was up early busy at work while listening (he informed me) to the late great LA hip-hop artist Mausberg's Non-Fiction album.

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Uncle Jamm's Army's Rodger Clayton, RIP

Posted by Billyjam, October 11, 2010 01:52pm | Post a Comment

Last night hip-hop lost another legend when Rodger Clayton, co-founder of LA's legendary Uncle Jamm's Army, passed following a heart attack. Uncle Jamm's Army was an extended collective of LA promoters, DJs, producers & emcees that Clayton (aka Mr. Prinze), along with Gid Martin,  took to wide fame. Back in the early 80's they would stage huge DJ parties at places like the Los Angeles Sports Arena where they would pack in five to ten thousand people. During the 1980's Clayton and the Army reigned supreme on the West Coast, even beyond playing hip-hop -- they specializing in electro-hop, a direct descendant of New York's electro old school hip-hop (a la Afrika Bambaataa).

Officially active during the years 1984 to 1988, the nexus of the group dated back to 1978 when Clayton and Martin initially formed Unique Dream Entertainment. Five years later the Clayton-led group had morphed into the regionally popular Uncle Jamm's Army with the music mastermind wisely enlisting many talented up-and-coming hip-hop emcees and DJs to flesh out the ranks and ensure popularity with a growing audience for hip-hop. This extended lineup featured such notable members as the pre-gangsta rap Ice-T, his DJ partner Chris "The Glove" Taylor, the Egyptian Lover, the Unknown DJ, and many later LA rap luminaries including DJ Pooh and DJ Battlecat.


Uncle Jamm's Army "Dial A Freak" (1984)

Big fans of funkateer George Clinton, the name Clayton and company chose was a direct nod to Funkadelic's 1979 album Uncle Jam Wants You. And, like the typically flamboyant Clinton led P-Funk ensembles, known for their wild onstage attire, Uncle Jamm's Army would also wear costumes onstage, although usually not as brightly colorful, instead favoring green army fatigues. Tapping into Clayton's promotional skills and wisely bringing name rap acts out from New York like Kurtis Blow, Run DMC and Whodini, the Uncle Jamm's Army parties became a phenomenon, attracting thousands of people to large auditorium and stadium scale venues like the Richmond Auditorium up north in the Bay Area. Luckily, I caught one of their gigs there, around when the crew's Egyptian Lover's "My Beat Goes Boom"/"What Is a DJ If He Can't Scratch" was a big hit. In the early days their LA parties were typically roller skate events, sponsored in part by stations KGFJ and KDAY, where the DJs would spin funk records like Zapp's "Doo Wa Ditty." By a certain point, Uncle Jamm's Army's name alone was enough of a draw. Of course, having their own records out that were radio hits only helped increase these crowds.

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Unsung Hero Dannie "Fut" James of LA's Impact Record Pool Dies of Cancer

Posted by Billyjam, October 2, 2010 11:13am | Post a Comment

When tragedy strikes and a hip-hop artist dies, the sad news usually travels fast. The same is not always true with those behind the scenes soldiers in the hip-hop world: the promoters, the managers, the sound technicians etc. -- the unsung heroes working the unseen daily grind to help make it all work. Dannie "Fut" James of LA's hip-hop Impact Record Pool was such an individual. He quietly passed away from complications of multiple myeloma, a form of cancer, on September 23, 2010. He was 59 years of age.

A co-founder of the influential record pool that serviced both club and radio station DJs in SoCal and sometimes beyond, James, who was also a DJ, was described by colleague General Jeff as "a pioneer in the West Coast rap game. Back when hit records were determined by 'street buzz' first [he] had a strong hand in launching the careers of both West Coast and East Coast rap artists alike."
 
Jeff, a longtime LA rap industry insider and community activist, noted that the most striking thing about "Fut" was that he was a giving, selfless individual, who was all about the music. "He never wanted to be in the spotlight. When I first met him, I would always see him at all the record industry functions, like the BRE conferences and the R&R conferences and befriended him there." Jeff credits him with the rise of the first wave of West Coast rap. "Once West Coast rap started taking off big, I once asked James if he had a problem with not getting the recognition that he deserved," recalled Jeff. "He replied, "I don't do this for the recognition, I do this for the music! It's not about me, it's about Impact Record Pool!"

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Community Activist General Jeff Talks About Lost Angels, a Documentary About Los Angeles' Homeless

Posted by Billyjam, September 11, 2010 05:05am | Post a Comment
Lost Angels trailer (2010)

If you live in LA you've no doubt driven or walked past the city's thousands of homeless people, especially if you pass through the downtown area known as Skid Row, where an estimated 11,000 homeless men and women dwell. But unless you've stopped and taken time to talk to these unfortunate individuals who call the streets home, you may not be able to humanize these men and women and their stories. 

The Thomas Napper directed film Lost Angels, which premiered in June at the Los Angeles Film Festival, screens for free tomorrow evening as part of the Downtown Film Festival. The film can help give a better understanding of LA's homeless. With narration by Catherine Keener, Lost Angels puts a human face on these so readily dismissed individuals that inhabit the Skid Row area. The excellent documentary's subjects (as seen in the trailer above) include a former Olympic runner, a transgendered punk rocker, and an eccentric animal lover and her devoted companion. It respectfully tells their individual stories of what led them to this point in their lives.
 
Tomorrow's Downtown Film Festival free screening of this documentary, which takes place at Gladys Park on a big 50 foot outdoor screen, is special because it is being screened in the heart of Skid Row, where the film was shot and where many of its subjects live. Los Angeles community activist General Jeff, whose last name is Page and who I met recently at Amoeba Hollywood during the KRS-ONE lecture, is a key person behind this unique screening of Lost Angels. Being on the Board of Directors for the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council and a resident director with Central City East/ Skid Row, Jeff works closely with LA's homeless and has firsthand insights into their plight. I caught up with the man to ask him about Lost Angels and its importance.

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