Amoeblog

Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: June 1990 Billboard Hot Rap Singles Top 30 Chart

Posted by Billyjam, November 18, 2014 10:50am | Post a Comment

In the twenty four years since the publication of the Billboard Hot Rap Singles Top 30 Chart (left) rap/hip-hop has grown by leaps and bounds in both terms of widespread acceptance and (seemingly) unstoppable global popularity. Upon publication back in mid June 1990, while popular enough to deem its own weekly chart, hip-hop was still somewhat marginalized and was far from the mainstream cultural force it enjoys today. However while examining the contrast between radio/sales charting hip-hop in 1990 and 2014 there are many notable differences. For starters hip-hop was still largely labeled or referred to as "rap" back then which is somewhat ironic since popular "hip-hop" today is technically more "rap" than  than it was back at the beginning of the nineties.

From eyeballing this June 1990 chart, that was compiled from a national sample of both retail and one-stop sales, it's evident that commercially popular hip-hop appeared to be a lot more adventurous and much more diverse in style -both production wise and lyrically.  Also notable is how major labels did not dominate the bulk of rap sales - rather is was pretty much evenly split between indies and majors, although many of those same independent labels would in time make deals with the majors. Another notable business factor was that record labels (indie or major) could still be very profitable ventures since 1990 was a time when people still bought records and tapes to hear music. There was no illegal free downloading/file-sharing of music, and the only threat to labels was illegal dubbed bootleg cassette copies of their releases. Hence labels had more money to spend on promotions of their artists/records.

Women hip-hop artists, who to this day have never gained equality in their genre, were still in the minority back in June 1990 with only five out of this top thirty chart being female acts. These five included three groups - something much rarer today when female rappers tend to be solo acts - that included Hammer proteges Oaktown's 3-5-7, Def Dames whose "Set It Off" heavily sampled Strafe's 1984 club/radio hit of the same name and who should not be confused with the Euro girl group of the same name who came a little later,  and early career Jermaine Dupri discovered rap/rNb trio Silk Tymes Leather. The other female chart entries were Icey Jaye ("It's A Girl Thing"), and Queen Latifah in a duet with David Bowie in an update of his previous era hit "Fame 90." Speaking of minorities within rap there was one Latino rap act on this chart - Los Angeles rapper Mellow Man Ace (the bilingual single that he is best remembered for, "Mentirosa") who is the brother of Sen Dog of Cypress Hill.

Political and socially charged hip-hop included such chart entries as X-Clan's "Raise The Flag," Public Enemy's "911 Is A Joke," former Public Enemy member Professor Griff's "Pawns In The Game," the Afro-centric and Native Tongues members The Jungle Brothers ("What U Waitin' 4"), and the number one chart entry: Ice Cube's incendiary title track of his debut solo/post NWA album AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted. Ice Cube's former NWA partner Dr. Dre (still two full years before he would unleash The Chronic) was represented on the chart via The D.O.C. single "The Formula" from the 1989 album No One Can Do It Better which he produced and was recorded before The D.O.C.'s tragic car accident that would ruin his music career. Other West Coast acts represented on this chart included Compton's Most Wanted and the Bay Area's MC Hammer (then in his prime and riding high with the single "U Can't Touch This") and Digital Underground who were taking the world by storm with their big hit "The Humpty Dance." 

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Essential Records: The Pharcyde's 'Bizarre Ride II'

Posted by Billyjam, November 17, 2014 02:23pm | Post a Comment

The Pharcyde

Each person has their own personal way to judge and rate the music they love. For me the criteria for rating an LP an "Essential Record" includes two key qualities: first, it's an all killer, no filler album (no temptation to ever skip over any track); and secondly, it is such a quality release that it doesn't age one bit over time (the timeless factor). Sometimes said Essential Record gets even better over the years. Such is the case with The Pharcyde's remarkable 1992 debut album, Bizarre Ride II (Delicious Vinyl), which sounds even more amazing today than it did when I first heard it 22 full years ago. I say this after playing the 57 minute record from start to finish twice in a row today, having not listened to it in a few years. Damn, that J-Swift produced album is so incredibly good! It's packed with soul, passion, and richly varied but cohesive beats and flows - from jazzy to old school to next generation - with varying BPMs. But, most notably, the album was totally unlike anything else at the time.

In late 1992 the SoCal-based Delicious Vinyl record label released Bizarre Ride II within just a few weeks oThe Pharcyde Ya Mamaf fellow LA based hip-hop artist Dr. Dre's G-Funk classic, The Chronic. While the two landmark hip-hop releases may have been linked by timeline and geography, they could not have been further apart in sound and style. Even Bizarre Ride's wild, fun cartoonish cover art set it apart as a record that did not take itself seriously. The album effuses a feeling of nonstop fun all the way through, as proven by the numerous impromptu-sounding hilarious studio bits that were mixed in or left in the final recording, like at the end of "Ya Mama" where they are just riffing off of each other. Unique, too, is how many of the "skits" on Bizarre Ride sound like songs, such as the 2:10 long "Quinton's on the Way (Skit)" which is like a Louis Armstrong inspired jazz song that captures the guys having fun in the studio with their different sounding voices and tones perfectly in contrast with each other.

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Hip-Hop Rap-Up: Logic, DJ Quik, Blu, YG, Diabolic

Posted by Billyjam, November 14, 2014 05:04am | Post a Comment
Top Five Hip-Hop Chart for Week Ending 11:14:14


1) DJ Quik The Midnight Life (Mad Science)

2) Logic  Under Pressure (Def Jam) also avail as LP

3) Diabolic Fightin' Words (WarHorse Records) - also avail as LP

4) YG My Krazy Life (Def Jam)

5) Blu Good To Be Home (Universal) also avail as LP

The above top five chart from the Hollywood Amoeba Music store reflects the top sellers of the past week which are not always necessarily new releases. Case in point are both YG's My Krazy Life from March of this year, and (to a degree) the Blu album Good To Be Home featuring production by Bombay and not by Exile this time - with whom their previously released collaborative Below The Heavens LP continues to sell well. The Blu chart entry originally came out six months ago via the indie Nature Sounds (who along with Fat Beats issued the LP version of the full-length) but has now been re-released by Universal. Have not heard the Universal version but hopefully the major label remastered the original which most agree was "shitty" sounding - and I quote countless fans of the artist himself as stating this. And the super gifted LA emcee has lots of fans - especially in his hometown where he always gets a lot of love.

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New "What's In My Bag?" Episode With Common

Posted by Amoebite, October 23, 2014 07:37pm | Post a Comment

Common at Amoeba Hollywood

You definitely don't have to be a fan of Common to appreciate what he has been able to achieve over the past two decades. He went from humble beginnings as an underground emcee on the Southside of Chicago to a GRAMMY winning rapper and high profile actor in Hollywood. With the recent release of Nobody's Smiling, Common has achieved another milestone few artists can claim (aside from being one of the few rappers interviewed by Oprah) - growing his discogrophy to album number 10. 

Common

Teaming up with producer and former Kanye West mentor No I.D. (aka "the Godfather of Chicago Hip Hop"), Common delivers a stellar album depicting the struggles and tragic conditions that plague Chicago today. The album's context is in line with what fans came to love about Common. In the early '90s, when gangsta rap was taking over radio and selling millions of records, Common stuck to his jazz influenced raps, bringing the "Golden Era" of hip hop to the new millenium. Jay-Z and Drake may rule the Billboard charts, but it's Common who gains the respect of fans from the underground and the mainstream.  

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: September 1996 In The Wake of 2Pac's Murder

Posted by Billyjam, October 21, 2014 07:00am | Post a Comment
For this week's Hip-Hop History Tuesdays Amoeblog I rewind the clock back eighteen full years to September 1996 and to the hip-hop news related to 2Pac that I was reporting on at the time via various media outlets. The shooting death of Tupac Shakur was the big story of that year.  The shooting death of 2Pac, who died in September of 1996, had a major impact on many people and often - oddly enough - in a positive way. At the time I reported on how 2Pac's death sparked discussion and unity among California inmates interviewing the then incarcerated Oakland rapper Pooh-Man (aka MC Pooh). "I've never seen anything quite like it before.  It brought every culture in here closer together; blacks, whites, and Mexicans.  Everyone was  touched by his death," Poohman told me at the time speaking by phone from San Quentin two days following the  Sept 13th news of 2Pac's death.  "I'm in a dorm with two hundred muthafuckas who is always talkin' and hollerin' but now whenever 2Pac's song comes on the radio everybody gets silent.  He meant a hell of a lot to everyone.  He was the voice of a generation.  He was speaking for all of us," said Poohman, "Right after his death a lot of the blacks got together in circles and talked about it and rapped the words to his songs," he said.  In fact at that time Poohman and fellow inmate, Oakland rapper Beehive, even went so far as to write a rap song in honor the slain rapper entitled, "We Still Feel Your Presence."

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