Amoeblog

Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Joe Conzo (Born In The Bronx) Amoeblog Interview

Posted by Billyjam, July 15, 2014 06:47pm | Post a Comment
     

"It's pretty humbling and amazing to see my photos from when I was a sixteen, seventeen year old kid," Joe Conzo told the Amoeblog - as seen in the above video clip - speaking last week by the wall of photos on display at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise gallery space on Greenwich Street in the Village in New York City. The exhibit is similar in title and theme as well as contributors to the highly recommended 2007 published book Born In The Bronx that he is an integral part of. "Born In The Bronx: Afrika Bambaataa, Buddy Esquire, Charlie Ahearn’s Wild Style and Joe Conzo - A Visual Record of the Early Days of Hip Hop" the exhibit that is curated by Johan Kugelberg (editor of the book) runs through July 26th, 2014 at the downtown gallery space and is well worth visiting - and it is free.

In addition to Conzo's photos on exhibit are such artifacts as classic original era hip-hop show flyers by Buddy Esquire (RIP), a grid of original cells from the animated sequences of Charlie Ahearn’s landmark hip-hop film Wild Style, and a wall display of LP and 12" vinyl from the Afrika Bambaataa's influential record collection.  There's also Afrika Bambaataa manuscripts and notebooks and the original lyrics handwritten for “Planet Rock” - all of which adds up to must-see material for any true hip-hop history fanatic.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Total Devastation's Big Tone Amoeblog Interview

Posted by Billyjam, June 17, 2014 05:56pm | Post a Comment
        

"Roll up a phat one, and pass it around. I wanna get blunted, my brother" was the lyrics/hook from bygone era San Francisco rap/hip-hop crew Total Devastation's 1993 hit single "Many Clouds of Smoke" which hit the rap sphere right during the national pro-weed / blunted hip-hop wave of the early nineties. The San Francisco group, who began in 1988 with members Redeye, Big Tone (formerly known as Soopa Dupa), and DJ Tuf Cut Tim the Fat Beat Maker, released their debut - the EP In The S.F. Streets - in 1990 which paved the way for their aforementioned breakthrough 1993 hit single "Many Clouds of Smoke" from their self-titled album that was also known as Legalize It. Currently working on a documentary on the group entitled Total Devastation: The Original Kings of Smoke I recently caught up with Big Tone to chop it up with him on his group, whose final release would be 1999's The Stone Age, for the Amoeblog Hip-Hop History series. Check out both that recent video Amoeblog interview with Big Tone and the music video for their 1993 national hit "Many Clouds of Smoke" (above and below respectively). Not included in the published version of the interview is what Big Tone had to say when asked what he sees as the difference in the Bay Area hip-hop scene two decades ago vs. now? "We were all more unified back then I think. Our generation, we all had a goal: to put our region on the map. I think that is the main difference," said Big Tone who noted that he is still active in the music business and that he is currently working on a project called C.S.I. (City Slickers Inc.) which is Tone along with his homies Spit Game Dame and DJ Foul Ball with whom he's just released the full-length City Slick Minded on Ball of Smoke. Additionally he is working on forthcoming solo release to be titled The Legend of Smokey Green Thumb. Look for the Total Devastation documentary sometime in 2015.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: History of the DMC DJ Battle Organization

Posted by Billyjam, June 3, 2014 10:50am | Post a Comment

      

Above is part one of the recently published documentary on the DMC, which is the DJ battle organization that began in 1986 in the UK by famed Radio Luxembourg DJ Tony Prince who formed the "Disco Mix Club" or DMC as an offshoot of the Disco Mix Club Show radio program that he began five years earlier. His first spawned remixes that were then released on tape and  vinyl, which then in turn led to the actual DJ competition. Initially the battles were more themed towards (as the name implied) "disco" party DJ mixing, but then (after noting the turntablist style of the US Superman/New Music Seminar (NMS) battles) changed up their focus from purely DJ mixing to the more intricate scratch/turntablist hip-hop DJ styles and techniques. Nowadays a respected worldwide organization with battles in countless countries that lead up to an annual worldwide championship battle, its most recent years' developments (which some love and some hate) have been mostly digital era related. These include ones such as allowing DJs to utilize laptops with programs like Serato and Traktor, and also well as hosting online DJ competitions whereby DJs record at their homes their own battle routines and upload them online to be judged by the DMC. To check out the numerous DJ contestants in the DMC Online DJ Championship 2014 click here.
 

The 20 Best 1980's Hip-Hop Albums

Posted by Billyjam, May 26, 2014 12:00pm | Post a Comment

When fellow Amoeblogger Billy Gil, who has done a number of Best Of lists in various genres, invited me to do some hip-hop best-of lists I had mixed feelings about the task. While I love drawing up lists of my favorite hip-hop releases from different eras and regions, I know that no matter what I include or how I position/rate it, later I will feel some kind of regret thinking that maybe I should have included or excluded a release or not ranked it as high on the list. And I am sure there will be commenters who will have the same critical thoughts (a la "I can't believe you didn't include ______ or that you ranked____ as number one," etc.). Simply put, it is difficult to narrow down Best Of lists because firstly it's personal and subjective, and secondly because a list I (or you) may draw up today will be different from one we might compile in a year's time. Musical tastes and opinions, especially in retrospect, are constantly in flux for me anyway.

Furthermore, sometimes an album or a single will rate high on one list (depending on the category) but not so on another. An example from this list would be Too $hort who would rank up the top of a Bay Area list but lower on an overall hip-hop album list of the 80's. Then there are all of those amazing hip-hop singles that were only singles, non-album cuts, or were culled from albums that otherwise were not as strong overall. Or in the case of Malcolm McLaren's 1983 album Duck Rock, which technically is a diverse genre album with hip-hop content and packaged in a hip-hop fashion from its cover art to how it is meshed together by the Worlds Famous Supreme Team radio show, it doesn't technically qualify as a hip-hop album. Add to my not included on the list 80's albums: such compilations as Mr Magic's Rap Attack series since I tried to focus purely on artist (vs. compilation) releases with the exception of one soundtrack on the list. Anyway, to combat all of this, I plan on doing many more best-of hip-hop lists with the goal being to include as many titles of great records as possible overall.
 

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Posse On Broadway"

Posted by Billyjam, May 6, 2014 09:34am | Post a Comment

Sir Mix-a-Lot "Posse On Broadway" (1988)

While Sir Mix-a-Lot is often wrongly dismissed as a rap one hit wonder for his international crossover mega-hit single "Baby Got Back" the Seattle rapper/producer actually boasts a rich catalog of quality posse on broadwayhip-hop - much of it in the years, on his own Nastymix Records label, leading up to his well worn 1992 hit single about him "liking big butts and I don't know why" and the Def American released album Mack Daddy from where it was culled. In fact he released his very first record seven years before "Baby Got Back." And four  years before his big hit propelled the now 50 year old artist born Anthony Ray into mainstream status he released his debut full-length album Swass which included the hip-hop 'golden age' classic "Posse on Broadway."  A single off the album released on the successful North West indie rap label that he himself founded, "Posse" struck a nerve with rap fans not just in Seattle but everywhere at the time. This was thanks to such factors as its great lyrics, the track's irresistibly powerful 808 kick-drum fueled beat, and also because listeners made the song lyrics relate to their own town's "Broadway" (every city has a Broadway it seems) whether they were in Oakland, San Francisco, New York City or wherever. Of course, the "Broadway" Sir Mix-a-Lot (who called the Bay Area his second home and spent a lot of them there) was referencing in "Posse On Broadway" was the street in his own hometown of Seattle.  Located in Seattle's Capitol Hill district, it was on Broadway where he and his "posse" famously "stopped at Taco Bell for some Mexican eatin' But Taco Bell was closed, The girls was on my tip. They said go back the other way we'll stop and eat at Dick's. Dick's is the place where the cool hang out. The Swass like to play and the rich flaunt clout. Posse to he burger stand so big we walk in twos." (Scroll down to see full song lyrics.)  A few years back when I interviewed more recent era Seattle underground hip-hop artist D. Black and asked him if Dick's Drive-In, the famed Seattle fast food institution immortalized in "Posse On Broadway," was still in business? "Yes, Dick's is still there on Broadway, although I don't eat there anymore cos it's not Kosher," added the next generation Seattle emcee, who practices Judaism. In fact today's best known Seattle rapper Macklemore filmed his (The Heist featured track) "White Walls" video at Dick's. 

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