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Hip Hop History Tuesdays: Young MC

Posted by Billyjam, April 14, 2015 12:04pm | Post a Comment

Scoring a top ten hit single might seem like any recording artist's greatest fantasy come to life. However the reality is that a hit single can become a stigma for an artist, particularly if it is the only hit single that an artist scores in their career since it will relegate them to that "one hit wonder" pile. Such, unfortunately, was the case for late-80's rap star Young MC whose 1989 breakout crossover single "Bust A Move" was his only big hit - one that has been featured on VH1's "100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders." But even before that, eight years after his hit had topped the charts, Young MC himself seemed resigned to the fact that he was indeed already a one-hit wonder. That was in 1997 when he released the poorly received comeback-attempt album unapologetically entitled Return of the 1 Hit Wonder.  Too bad since Young MC was a good rapper whose career deserved to go further than that one hit.

British by birth, Marvin Young  was born in the Wimbledon suburb of South West London, England before his family crossed the Atlantic to where he would be raised in Queens, New York City. There he graduated from Hunter College, soon-after moving west across the States to attend the University of Southern California.  It was at USC where he not only earned a bachelors degree in economics but also earned the friendship of two students with a bright music biz future ahead of them. Michael Ross and Matt Dike were the founders of the then fledgling Delicious Vinyl Records label. The meeting of these two and Young MC would be a most important one. Thanks to signing the unknown but soon to be hugely successful Young MC to their new upstart label as Delicious Vinyl's first artist - they made a grand entrance into the rap music business. The signing would also in turn launch the career of their next crossover pop rap artist Tone-Loc for whom Young MC co-write both the 1989 top-ten, Tone-Loc mega hit  "Wild Thing"  as well as Loc's hit "Funky Cold Medina" - both from Tone-Loc's debut hit album Loc-ed After Dark. Many have rightfully noted that Young had pershaps foolheartedly given away some of his best material to Tone-Loc.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: The Bay Area's Dangerous Dame

Posted by Billyjam, March 31, 2015 02:00pm | Post a Comment

This week's Hip-Hop History Tuesdays Amoeblog celebrates veteran Oakland rapper Dangerous Dame. The East Bay hip-hop, born Damon Edwards, ranks up there amidst the select early Bay Area hip-hop era artists to make it in terms of putting out records in the 80's, getting commercial radio airplay, and landing a major label record deal - and all while still a teenager! However, as is often the case in the ever-fickle music biz, that success was relatively short-lived despite affiliations throughout his career with such high profile artists as Too $hort, Master P, and Mac Dre. Nonetheless Dangerous Dame is a very important figure in the history of Bay Area hip-hop whose career was most notable from the late 80's through the late 90's with the first few years being the most significant. He was also an artist that grabbed rap fans attention with his unique flow and penchant for forever shouting out his hometown of Oakland, CA  born and proud rapper.

Dangerous Dame got into rap early in life, kick-starting his career while barely into his teens. At the young age of thirteen he was writing his own rhymes and within two years was onstage performing them at local talent shows.  Not long after that the talented teen was teaching himself how to make beats and produce his own music; thanks to his always supportive father James who purchased him his first drum machine along with some other basic recording equipment, and who would later fund and personally release his son's debut "Jumpin" (featuring DJ Dopecut on the scratches). Hence why the label name incorporated his pops' name; James Edwards Sr. Enterprise.  Released at the beginning of 1989 this underground, cassette-only release was truly a homegrown, low-budget affair. It's cover art,  a low-grade photo of Dame and his DJ posing by an Oakland city sign with their two names scribbled on with a sharpie and the album title oddly appearing in quotes, looked like it was sloppily slapped together as an afterthought.  Regardless the tape inside offered seven powerful tracks that showcased both the young Dame's solid writing skills and his unique delivery; a rough & rugged but shrill vocal style that was distinctly Oakland and somewhat derivative of Too $hort but never duplicating him in either flow or content.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Number One Hip-Hop Singles of 1990

Posted by Billyjam, March 24, 2015 09:31pm | Post a Comment
The following list of number one hip-hop singles from 25 years ago is based on a combination of sales and radio airplay and comes care of Billboard magazine who calculated the initially published charts throughout 1990 in the weekly music magazine. Some were culled from albums released in 1989 but all singles charted in '90 with Salt-N-Pepa's "Expression" (remembered by many by its repeated catchy hook "express yourself") holding down the number one slot for the longest at eight consecutive weeks from mid January through mid March that year. Meanwhile Candyman's pop rap single "Knockin' Boots" spent five weeks at number one. Interestingly Vanilla Ice's ever-popular mega hit "Ice Ice Baby" only spent one week at number one on the hip-hop charts in 1990. However it soon crossed over to the separate pop singles chart where it enjoyed much more success going to number one for 13 weeks. The East Bay based, Tommy Boy act Digital Underground's biggest hit single of their career "The Humpty Dance" was number one for five straight weeks beginning on St. Patrick's Day, 1990. BDP artist D-Nice's "They Call Me D-Nice" spent four weeks at number one as did "We're All In The Same Gang" by the appropriately named West Coast Rap All-Stars, featuring Ice-T, Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, MC Ren, Young MC, Digital Underground, MC Hammer, King Tee, Body & Soul, Def Jef, Michel'le, Tone-Loc, and Above The Law's Cold 187um & KMG, which spent a month at number starting on July 21st. Meanwhile Ice Cube, with his debut solo post N.W.A. single "AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted" from the album of the same name, spent three straight weeks at number one beginning on June 9th, 1990 - but never had an official video made for it.  Most of the others spent one or two weeks at number one. For exact number of corresponding weeks at number one to individual hip-hop single see number in brackets following title of song, all below in video format in chronological order of release as singles.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: 1988, The Year Considered By Many As Hip-Hop's Greatest

Posted by Billyjam, March 10, 2015 03:00pm | Post a Comment

For this week's Hip-Hop History installment we rewind back to wonderfully vibrant year of 1988. It was a time when hip-hop still constantly growing, with exciting sounding new artists constantly unfurling new lyrical and musical sounds. To me '88 was part of the third wave of hip-hop - with the first wave being the (original) old school artists of the 70's/early 80's, who were eclipsed earlier in the 80's by Run-D.M.C. who ushered in the "new school" - but who themselves in turn were eclipsed by this newer third wave of hip-hop. It often seemed (and more so in retrospect) that every record released in '88 was a good record. Of course, as with any music in any time period, there were hip-hop duds released in '88 too. However overall it is fair to say that 1988 had a larger percentage of quality, diverse-sounding, influential, and timeless hip-hop releases than many other years in the genre's four-decade history. And no wonder; it was part of the time frame known as the "golden era" of hip-hop that is widely considered to be the artistic pinnacle of the art form.   I think part of the reason for this, along with the lyrical aspect of the artform still being relatively young and still being explored by new emcees like Rakim, was the fact that sampling was at its creative peak. Remember this was in the period before the infamous 1991 landmark Gilbert O Sullivan vs Biz Markie copyright case that essentially brought an end to free range sampling, and would end up in hip-hop being a little less adventurous sounding due to all the restrictions placed on it regarding sampling.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesday: 1986, The Year Run-D.M.C. Raised Hell And Helped Rap Crossover

Posted by Billyjam, March 3, 2015 03:03am | Post a Comment

When they arrived on the hip-hop scene in the early 1980's Run-D.M.C. distinguished themselves as the leaders of the new school of rap music. This claim by the Hollis, Queens, NY trio comprised of Joseph "Run" Simmons, Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels, and Jason "Jam-Master Jay" Mizell was truly justified by the unique group who would be perhaps the most influential group of the genre with their hardcore rap sound. With 1984's self-titled debut on Profile Records and its follow-up; 1985's King of Rock, Run DMC were already hugely popular with fans of the then still burgeoning hip-hop music genre but it was 1986's Raising Hell  their third album that proved to be their breakthrough, crossover release. Raising Hell won them a whole wave of new fans - many of whom up until this point had dismissed rap as mere novelty and  passing fad in pop music. Run DMC's updated rock/rap version of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" deserves  much of the credit for breaking Run DMC (and rap/hip-hop along with it) into the mainstream. The conversion of the average mid eighties hard rock fan, who up to this stage was still resistant to rap because they saw it as a derivative of the then stigmatized genre of disco, went to Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith who joined on them on both the record and in the influential music video of "Walk This Way." The result was an inspired updated rap rendition of an already great rock song.

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