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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Rare 1990 Chuck D Interview with DJ Chuck Chillout on "WDEF"

Posted by Billyjam, December 30, 2014 10:00am | Post a Comment

For this week's installment of the Amoeblog's Hip Hop History Tuesdays I rewind the clock back 24 years  to December 1990 when Def Jam mailed out to journalists, DJs, and other media folk on their press promo list a cool complimentary "Merry Christmas" mixtape by DJ Chuck Chillout that was supposedly the NYC radio station "WDEF" and its show "The Rush Hour." But while both the radio show and the radio station were imaginary the cassette and all the interviews on it, including EPMD, BWP, and Pubic Enemy's Chuck D (featured here), were all very real and conducted as if on the air live by the recording artist/radio DJ who was on KISS FM at the time.

The Rush Hour
name referred to the Russell Simmons overseen artists - most on Def Jam - that were showcased on the mixtape that was a nice balance of artist interviews and music - a lot of two turntable beat juggle routines. Out of all the tape's interviews the interview with Chuck D (on behalf of Public Enemy)  was the best one and hence, when I uncovered this long lost tape in past week, decided to upload it to YouTube to feature here on the Amoeblog Hip-Hop History feature. Note that the actual Chuck Chillout/Chuck D interview would have been recorded at the end of Summer/ start of Fall 1990 - right after PE got off tour in support of their then current album Fear Of A Black Planet (their third studio album that was released on May 10th, 1990).

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Revisiting Short Lived 1990's Slammin' Rap Video Magazine

Posted by Billyjam, December 23, 2014 11:52am | Post a Comment

24 long hip-hop years ago, way back in the year of 1990 (a time before the Internet with its instant access to everything) there were relatively few ways to hear rap news and new hip-hop music. Back then there was  Source magazine and a few other hip-hop print publications such as RapMasters or the UK published Hip Hop Connection monthly mag. Compared to nowadays when a news item can be published worldwide within seconds of it taking place, things sure moved slowly back in 1990. In that bygone print age, the turnaround from when a national monthly's contents were written and photographed and ready for publication then finally hit the newsstands was typically a two month period. That rendered much of the "news"  old by the time it was read - although rap fans back then didn't seem to care. Besides, they had few options to get their hip-hop fix.

A little more timely back at the beginning of the '90s were the weekly rap radio shows around the country, aircheck cassette tapes of which were often dubbed and re-dubbed and shared. Then there were the select weekly or monthly rap video shows on TV that ranged from small regional ones playing national rap music videos and showcasing local talent to the big national Yo! MTV Raps, which was then two years strong and a lifeline of hip-hop music and news to those in areas outside of big cities.

In addition to these media outlets was the novel hip-hop video magazine,  Slammin' Rap Video Magazine, which was a one-hour VHS videocassette tape published by BMG that retailed for $12.98. Often billing itself as material you would "not seen on MTV," the one-hour video production was hosted by Alex Winter (actor then famous for his role alongside a young Keanu Reeves in 1989's silly-but-fun comedy Sci-Fi Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure). Slammin' was an ambitious, well-executed production that presented engaging artist interviews and showed music clips with the best hip-hop acts of the day. The premiere Vol. 1 1990 edition (see below in full) included KRS-One, MC Hammer, Queen Latifah, Tone-Loc, Special Ed, Public Enemy's Chuck D, Ice-T and his extended Rhyme Syndicate crew that included a young pre House of Pain Everlast, Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock, Lakim Shabazz, Salt 'N' Pepa, Kid 'N' Play, and Roxanne Shanté among others. That's a pretty darn impressive line-up for a video magazine! But for whatever reason, the shortlived Slammin' video magazine series never took off in a huge way and only lasted for a handful of editions produced and published between 1990 and 1991. Along with Vol. 1 you can also see in full Vol. 3 of Slammin', which starred such hip-hop artists as LL Cool J, Too $hort, Schoolly D, Eric B & Rakim, D-Nice, and  Big Daddy Kane below. Both are really entertaining and educational in my opinion. And look in the used VHS bins at Amoeba for the occasional copy of the Slammin' video magazine series that shows up from time to time.

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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 24 years since the first publication of the Billboard Hot Rap Singles Top 30 Chart, 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 of 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 is 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 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. It 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 illegally dubbed bootleg cassette copies of their releases. Hence labels had more money to spend on promotions of their artists.



Women hip-hop artists, whom 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 30 chart being female acts. These five included three groups - something much rarer today when female rappers tend to be solo acts - and 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 who came a little later), and early career Jermaine Dupri-discovered rap/r&b 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 for "Fame 90."

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Boston Actor/Rapper Slaine of La Coka Nostra Balances Active Hip-Hop And Movie Careers

Posted by Billyjam, January 10, 2013 11:11am | Post a Comment

Slaine "The Boston Project" sneak peak (will arrive in Amoeba in March, 2013)

More than any other popular musical genre hip-hop seems to be the one that artists frequently and effortlessly transition from music into acting. The long list of those hip-hop artists who have successfully done so includes (to name but a few) Ice Cube, Will Smith, Queen Latifah, 50 Cent, Mos Def/Yasiin Bey, Common, LL Cool J, Ice T, Ludacris, EminemSnoop Dogg, and of course the late great 2Pac/Tupac Shakur. Add to that list Slaine of rap super group La Coka Nostra. The Boston rapper, born George Carroll, is in the recently released Andrew Dominik directed film Killing Them Softly (starring Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini) and has also recently completed his second solo album, The Boston Project on Suburban Noize/Commonwealth Records, which will arrive in Amoeba Music in March, 2013.

Slaine considers his forthcoming album (the follow up to 2011's World With No Skies 2.0) his way of giving a little bit back to the city that he loves and that has given him so much over the years. He says that, "When most people think of Boston, hip-hop usually isn't the first thing that comes to mind, but the level of talent that is coming out of this city is insane. I wanted to create a record that highlights what this city has to offer musically and show how diverse the talent is. This record embodies something much larger than just a Slaine record." To further prove that point he enlisted many of Beantown's finest talents on the The Boston Project including Termanology, Reks, Esoteric, Ed O.G., Smoke Bulga, Lou Armstrong, Jaysaun, and Millyz along with Boston based producer Lu Balz.

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Ice T Well Prepared For Critiques of his "Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap" Documentary at UK Premiere

Posted by Billyjam, July 24, 2012 07:07am | Post a Comment


Ice T
's critically acclaimed, independently produced, hip-hop history documentary Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap, which opened in the States last month, just opened here in Europe on Friday last. The evening before (July 19) there were a series of premiere screenings in London and other select European cities including Dublin, Ireland when I caught it at the IFI (Irish Film Institute) where the film was followed immediately by a Q+A & concert performance via live satellite from London's Hammersmith Apollo. There Ice T, along with Melle Mel, Chuck D, and Raekwon were all in town for the UK debut. During this Q+A from the audience (a tough crowd) Ice T fielded most of the questions in which he spent a fair amount of time in defense of his great film: something he was well able to handle.

But first the movie which I had heard and read all about and was most anxious to view. I thought it was really excellent; especially on the big screen with the film's ample use of panoramic aerial views of NYC, LA, and Detroit, all lovingly shot in breathtaking widescreen at various times of the day from helicopter, that nicely broke up the dialog segments of  the documentary.

Sure the film didn't have all my favorite rappers in it but it was not my film, it was Ice T's. And as the OG (original gangsta) turned rapper, turned actor, turned filmmaker - stated before the film was even screened at Sundance earlier this year; he was not trying to represent all things rap (especially the bling & swag elements) but rather simply focus on the art of the rapper / emcee, and from his own personal perspective. This he did in loving detail, casually catching up with old friends in the rap game, and having them spit a verse or two from their own or other rapper's favorite rhymes, and share a little insight on how they approach their craft. In all 47 artists made the final cut including such talents as Afrika Bambaataa, Rakim, Raekwon, Ice Cube, Chuck D, Snoop Dog, Kool Keith, KRS-One, Eminem, Q-Tip, Chino XL, Grandmaster Caz, and Melle Mel - the latter two getting perhaps the most shine and props in the film. 

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