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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Return Of The Return Of The Cassette

Posted by Billyjam, September 7, 2013 02:40pm | Post a Comment

Amoeba Berkeley's E-Lit shows some of the cassette tapes at Telegraph Ave store

Everything comes round again, and sometimes more than once, including the long dismissed but never fully forgotten cassette tape format. Yes, once again the old analog cassette, once a symbol of listening to music on the go in the 70's or 80's (on Walkmans, in the car, or on boom-boxes) is currently enjoying yet another re-resurgence in popularity and/or curious interest by music collectors and small music labels. Even in the six years since I wrote a previous Amoeblog on the topic (Return of the Cassette that tackled the state of the cassette revival in 2007 and tied in with Thurston Moore's Leaderless: Underground Cassette Culture Now NYC exhibit at the time) interest in cassettes has increased substantially.

Attention to cassettes in the media has grown too. Two years ago the Wall Street Journal did a nice piece on their renaissance. And for the past few years there has been a growing number of small indie specialty labels putting out cassette only releases. Among these are such Bay Area labels as MegaKut  and Sanity Muffin (run by Amoebite Billy Sprague) and New Jersey punk label Baldy Longhair Records (see magazine ad for the label right). Blogs have been popping up all over on various aspects of the cassette tape including one how to repair a broken cassette.

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Hip-Hop Rap-Up, Week Ending 02.24.12: E Lit's Top Five, Hiero's Pep Love + Tajai, Fist Fam's Weekend Cult Release Party, Busdriver, Curren$y, Gangrene, The Promise, The Sessions San Francisco + more

Posted by Billyjam, February 24, 2012 06:10am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Berkeley Hip-Hop Top Five for week ending 02:24:12 with E-Lit

1) Lazerbeak & Edison Kill Switch LP (Fieldwerk)

We received a whole bunch of these over a week early, and sold through our entire supply of them in a matter of days!  Given the extremely high quality of the product, it’s no wonder we couldn’t keep this on the shelves. Kill Switch is hip-hop production of the highest caliber, brought to you by the strongest label in instrumental hip hop Fieldwerk Recordings.  Doomtree’s Lazerbeak handles side A with a surprisingly subtle approach that occasionally bursts with brilliant color, delivering his finest solo instrumental work to date.  San Francisco’s own genius button-masher Edison handles side B with a much rowdier gang of beats that show off his skillful production craft, with menacing guitar jabs and gangsta bleeps that form a cohesive whole.  This one’s only available on vinyl, but it does come with a digital download card that’ll get it on your computer in a matter of minutes.  Highly recommended!

2) Tajai Machine Language CD (Hieroglyphics Imperium)

Souls of Mischief frontman and Hieroglyphics mainstay Tajai’s new Machine Language mixtape has naturally been doing very well in the Bay.  Features fellow Hiero members Casual, Opio and A-Plus, plus a joint with The Pharcyde, all for a super cheap price of $5.98.  This mix CD is just a taster of random new Tajai tracks, but should tide the Bay’s Hiero fanbase over until Tajai’s new Rap Noir album drops later this year.

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Love For Tha Sco: Hip-Hop Videos That Show Much Love For San Francisco City

Posted by Billyjam, May 12, 2011 03:16pm | Post a Comment

During the Bay Area's rich, three-decade strong hip-hop history, each city within the greater Bay Area has been fairly represented, from Oakland to Vallejo & from East Palo Alto to San Francisco and all other towns and spots in between. And with this music, more than any other popular genre, such as, say, rock, Bay Area rap/hip-hop has consistently presented an overwhelming sense of pride and recognition for its immediate surroundings. Neighborhoods or 'hoods are frequently name checked in rap songs. Listen to Bay Area hip-hop for any amount of time and you'll hear countless references or shout-outs to street names and specific blocks, to local landmarks and slang terms for areas such as "Valley Joe" (Vallejo), "The Town" (Oakland), and "Tha Sco" (San Francisco), aka "The SFC" or "San Fran Psyco" or "The 4, The 1, The Feev" etc. etc. In fact, San Francisco hip-hop in particular is renowned for displaying a huge amount of hometown pride lyrically as well as in the songs' corresponding videos.

So for this Amoeblog I've assembled ten (admittedly subjective, since there are so many to choose from) San Francisco themed rap videos that display both a love of San Francisco in their lyrics and also some great visual shots of the City by the Bay. Included is the very recently released, Dregs One directed "Heart & Soul" by Equipto featuring Mike Marshall, which is packed with references to San Francisco hip-hop artists from the past few decades plus tons of citywide landmarks (including Doggie Diner and Amoeba on Haight). "Heart and Soul" and many of the videos below include the SF Giants logo, gear or stadium shots. The SF Giants' success in 2010 brought additional pride to San Francisco hip-hop, as seen in the videos featuring SF rapper Roach Gigz below, along with San Quinn and others.

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