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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 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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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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12 Song Soundtrack for Memorial Day BBQs & The Kick Off of Summer 2011

Posted by Billyjam, May 30, 2011 03:20pm | Post a Comment

With the smell of BBQs in the air this Memorial Day weekend and the kick off of the summer season that gladly brings with it the time to relax & kick back with family and friends, music steps up its role in playing a central theme in our lives. Hence this (subjective) summer song playlist culled from the literally thousands of great songs out there that celebrate summertime and  just hanging out in the sunshine in the park or backyard, or at the beach.

Here are a dozen personal faves (lots of classics) from the rap and pop categories culled from over the past several decades including Len's "Steal My Sunshine" (1999), Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince's "Summertime" (1991), Raewkon's "Ice Cream" (1995), The Foo Fighters' "Barbeque Song" that they did for an MTV special (2007), Mac Dre's "California Livin'" (1992), Dove Shack's (with Warren G) "Summertime in the LBC," and dating back to 1966 with The Lovin Spoonful's summertime classic "Summer In The City."

                           
Main Source feat Nas, Joe Fatal, & Akinyele "Live from the BBQ" (1991)


           
Foo Fighters "Barbeque Song" (2007)


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Hip-Hop Rap Up 10:01:10: New Releases from Ice Cube, 9th Wonder + Nemo, Group Home, Skyzoo & Illmind, Pigeon John + More

Posted by Billyjam, October 1, 2010 09:00am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music Hollywood Weekly Hip-Hop Top Five Chart: 10:01:10

Ice Cube
1) Ice Cube I Am The West (Lench Mob Records)

2) Nas & Damian Marely Distant Relatives (Republic)

3) Eminem Recovery (Aftermath, Interscope, Shady)

4) Black Milk Album of the Year (Fat Beats)

5) 9th Wonder Presents Big Nemo Entrapment (The Orchard/Traffic)

Released this past Tuesday, veteran West Coast rapper Ice Cube's new album  I Am The West (Lench Mob Records) has shot to the number one slot on the new Hip-Hop Top Five Chart at Amoeba Hollywood. Featuring the head-nodding, hook-driven lead single "I Rep The West" that's been out most of the summer, the album, although only dropping now at the end of the summer, is billed as a "celebration of summertime on the west coast." But really it's an anytime upbeat record that is not as strictly West Coast (i.e., G-Funk) sounding as one might expect it to be by its title. And while admittedly this is not Cube's finest work (that dates back to the first few years after he departed NWA), it ain't bad either. I rate it a 3 and half out of five star release, with strong cuts like the aforementioned lead single, plus "Nothing Like LA," "Hood Robbin'," and "No Country For Young Men." But the sixteen track album (that fortunately features no AutoTune and only a handful of his old school West Coat potnas) also has some filler, such as "Fat Cat." But considering the amount of time that Cube has been in the music biz (2+ decades) and the image challenge he faces with trying to balance being an actor and rapper (South Central gangsta rapper vs. family friendly figure in vehicles like Are We There Yet?), Cube somehow pulls it off, delivering bangers such as "No Country For Young Men" that remind one of the old Cube.

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