Amoeblog

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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Looking Back @ Hip-Hop in 2010

Posted by Billyjam, December 31, 2010 10:30pm | Post a Comment

2010 was another great year for hip-hop with a seemingly never-ending flow of quality releases dropping from both underground and mainstream hip-hop artists. Hence, it's impossible to fully represent the diversity of hip-hop in 2010 in any year-end column. But this Amoeblog will attempt to offer a sampler of some of the highlights of 2010 via revisiting some select Amoeba Hip-Hop Top 5 charts along with some accompanying videos. Also below are some best-of 2010 lists from Luis F Soria (Amoeba San Francisco), Ray Ricky Rivera (Amoeba Hollywood), DJ Inti (Amoeba Berkeley), and myself (Amoeblog).

The lists of 2010 releases below only scratch the surface of what came out this past year, which proves just how vibrant hip-hop was in 2010. It was everywhere, with artists crossing over more than ever into pop, rock, & dance. And while 2010 saw a ton of newcomers drop impressive albums, it was also a year when many longtime artists delivered some of their best work. Eminem, Big Boi, E40 and Ghostface Killah each had stellar releases. Also impressive in 2010 were Dres from Black Sheep, Sadat X, Rah Digga, and Son of Bazerk and No Self Control, who returned with the killer jackin for beats track, "I Swear On a Stack of Old Hits," released by Chuck D's Slamjamz label. Unfortunately, when they performed live, opening for Public Enemy in 2010, they weren't as good as on record or video (see below). Consistently great in concert including on their 2010 tour was Public Enemy whose 1991 single "By The Time I Get To Arizona" inspired many and took on a new meaning in 2010 with Arizona's Senate Bill 1070, or SB 1070.
Bored Stiff
DJ Shadow's Shadowsphere tour was among the best shows of 2010. Zion I's recent Atomic Clock tour was also on the money. Gurp Fest, earlier this month, proved that the party driven, raw hip-hop Bay Area bred movement is on the brink of blowing up. Among the many Bay Area artists making noise in 2010 were Richmond's Erk Tha Jerk, Vallejo's Moe Green, and Fillmore San Francisco's DaVinci. Veteran SF hip-hop crew Bored Stiff released the free digital album Now More Than Ever in 2010 but tragically lost a member when earlier this month Rick Fairley, aka Big Kwanz, died in his sleep from a heart attack. He was only 36. Hip-hop lost many others too in 2010, notably GURU of Gang Starr, who died back in April at age 43.

Gurp Fest 2010 Presents the (For Now) Underground Musical Collective & Movement Known as Gurp City

Posted by Billyjam, December 17, 2010 05:58pm | Post a Comment

In honor of tonight's big Gurp Fest 2010 at Club Six in San Francisco, the Amoeblog offers an overview of the San Francisco based hip-hop movement / collective known as Gurp City. What follows is a general history and a guide to some of the unique slang used by its members, plus a listing of the many talented artists (and the many more who are loosely affiliated) involved in this party-driven, homegrown underground hip-hop movement. Though based in San Francisco, it but has members beyond, all the way down to the Gurpy South.

Gurp City South will be well represented at tonight's Gurp Fest with (NJ by way of NC) emcee Foulmouth Jerk, Fist Fam, and Bay transplant & orchestrator of tonight's event TopR, who took the word of Gurp City with him when he moved to Asheville, NC. This article includes TopR's description of the Gurp City movement.

Other performers tonight include such key Gurp City members as Z-Man, Eddie K & Brandon K's Trunk Drank, Grand Invincible (Luke Sick from Sacred Hoop + DJ Eons), DJ Quest, Cutty Bang (aka Dick Nasty), Rec League, BOAC, DJ Cue and DJ 2 Fresh.

And given that the term to gurp means to party hard, a belief tha all of Gurp City's members hold close to their heart, tonight's Gurp Fest should be quite the party!

Z-Man "Gurp With Me" (2004)

Although centered in “The City in a Bottle” (San Francisco), the origins oTopRf Gurp City are in two other locations at the end of the nineties: the city of Chico, CA and the long gone, beloved record/hip-hop store in Daly City, Cue's Hip Hop Shop. It was run by DJ Cue of the legendary Bay Area DJ groups Bulletproof Scratch Hamsters/Space Travelers and was a gathering point for hip-hop minds and talents. The shop may be gone but DJ Cue is still going strong and will be at tonight's event. It's been organized by TopR (aka Topper Holiday), once a very familiar face at Amoeba San Francisco, where he used to hang out years ago and in 2008 did an instore performance. Additionally, back in 2005 TopR appeared on the Amoeba Music Compilation Vol. 5 with a song that mentioned Amoeba in its lyrics.

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