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A Love Letter to "Black Star"

Posted by Amoebite, May 18, 2015 04:47pm | Post a Comment

Love Letter to Black Star

I loved our recent Essential Records piece about Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star. I loved the personal reflection and the reminiscing about that time and how it had an impact. So many of us are touched by music at a point in our lives - by a particular song or record - and it's amazing how much it sticks with us, and resonates for years and years and years. Just hearing that record can make us feel something deeply: a moment in time, a time in our lives. Music is the wallpaper and the soundtrack. For some of us it is something way more than the background, it is at the core of who we were and are and who we developed into.

Karen at Leopold RecordsKaren at the Info Counter (~1990)

Of course I had a slightly different, but just as pivotal, experience with the release of the album. It has been one that has carried me from the Bay down to LA. Black Star was released the year that Amoeba opened in San Francisco. It was what reminded and reassured me why I was committed to doing what we do every day with music. Because, simply put, artists and musicians were still challenging and stretching and inventing and bringing music to people in a whole new way to whole new generations.

Essential Records: Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star

Posted by Amoebite, May 11, 2015 05:36pm | Post a Comment

Essential Records Black Star

The '90s proved to be interesting times for Hip Hop. Early in the decade, the “golden era” produced countless classics, while the middle of the decade gave way to a highly publicized beef between East and West coast rappers. Gangsta rap came and went. “Bling bling” became a thing with rappers wearing chains so big MR. T was blushing. The entire Hip Hop community was shaken up by the untimely murders of Tupac and Notorious B.I.G., leaving a major void in the mainstream. Slowly, the tide began to shift and Hip Hop audiences started looking to the underground for what was to come next.

In 1996, with backing by James Murdoch (son of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch), Rawkus Records was established in New York City. The small label launched with Company Flow’s debut, Funcrusher Plus (1997), quickly establishing itself at the forefront of the new underground movement. Rawkus set the bar high by following up with two stellar compilations, Sound Bombing (1997) and Lyricist Lounge Volume 1. (1998). The latter featuring veteran emcees including De La Soul, Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest, Common and Black Thought of The Roots. Music fans and critics began taking note of the fledgling label and all the stars seem to align for what came next.

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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 Rap-Up: Berner, Boots Riley, Kanye West, DJ Cutso, Kool Keith + more

Posted by Billyjam, March 20, 2015 10:05am | Post a Comment
New releases to Amoeba this past week include the EP 20 Lights (Bern One Entertainment) by the numero uno Bay Area weed ambassador Berner whose prolific output disproves that old belief that weed makes you lazy (his last release - the album Drugstore Cowboy - dropped just three short months ago).  Included on this new joint (pun intended) guest heavy, seven song CD are collaborations with such fellow dank-loving talents as Wiz Khalifa, Curren$y, Smiggz, The Jacka, and Mac Dre (the latter two Bay Area greats no longer with us - rest in peace).  Also new this week is the vinyl version of Sour Soul by BadBadNotGood backing Ghostface Killah that was released on CD a month ago. This explicit new vinyl version, that is care of Lex Records, comes complete with a digital download card.  is available in regular  the two download-only smoked and chopped 8Ball & MJG albums Comin Out Hard and On The Outside Looking In remix projects by Green Thumb that feature Dirty South rap tracks each given that hella slowed down and extended remix treatment.

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Hip-Hop Rap-Up: Diamond District Redux, Lyrics Born, SxSW, Kosha Dillz, Global Local, Krush Groove, + more

Posted by Billyjam, March 13, 2015 05:05am | Post a Comment
New hip-hop releases to arrive into Amoeba this week include Diamond District's March On Washington Redux album that is an updated all remix version of their 2014 album March On Washington. The new CD from the power trio self-described as the “D.C. Voltron” and comprised of emcees Oddisee, yU and Uptown XO, again care of from the label that can do no wrong Mello Music, features non-stop remixes of all 13 tracks including such bangers as L'Orange's remix of "The Backup," the Diamond D remix of "Erything," and the Large Pro remix of "Working Weekends." Meanwhile Diamond District member/Prince George’s County, Maryland native Oddisee has just announced that he will be releasing a new solo album entitled The Good Fight. The album, which will arrive in Amoeba on May 5th again care of Mello Music has been described as a record that will remind you that it’s music before it’s hip-hop. For a preview taste of what it will sound like you can stream the first single, "That's Love," via SoundCloud.

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