Amoeblog

The 25 Best Hip-Hop Movies

Posted by Billyjam, July 24, 2014 06:15pm | Post a Comment

Best Hip Hop films

The definition of "hip hop movies" is pretty darn wide as it covers a broad range of types and styles of films - not to mention differing levels of quality since, let's face it, some have been downright low-budget jenky (bad meaning bad). The hip hop movie genre as a whole encompasses such varieties as concerts films (EG 1995's The Show or 2005's Dave Chappelle's Block Party); documentaries about specific parts of the genre or individual artists (e.g. Scratch or Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme or Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest); bio-pics like Notorious or the semi-biographical Eminem acting vehicle 8-Mile; and straight up pure celebratory flicks that show love for some or all of hip hop's four elements (EG Wild Style, Juice, Beat Street, and Breakin').

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Spill A Lil On The Curb For The Memory of Mac Dre Who Would Have Turned 44 Today

Posted by Billyjam, July 5, 2014 12:58pm | Post a Comment
Were he still alive Bay Area rap legend Mac Dre would be celebrating his 44th birthday today. Born Andre Louis Hicks on July 5, 1970 in Oakland, CA - but raised in the North Bay town of Vallejo in the infamous Crest Side so often referenced in his music, the endlessly talented rapper was tragically killed ten years ago in Kansas City. But even now,  a full decade later, the much loved the world over Bay Area rap artist's legacy - along with the Thizz Entertainment empire that he kick-started - continues to grow and fans (both new and old) continue to track the countless releases from Mac Dre's ever prolific career. That career can be clearly divided into two distinct eras - before and after his five year 1990's incarceration for a crime he never committed (check video below of a 1992 interview I did with him for more on that). Personally I divide Mac Dre's two-part career into the Thizz half and the earlier Khayree (producer) half.  For releases from both parts of Mac Dre's rich back-catalog check out the bins at the three Amoeba Music retail outlets, or the Mac Dre section of the Amoeba Music online store where you will find such Mac Dre releases as Stupid Doo Doo Dumb, The Game Is Thick Vol 2, and Musical Life of Mac Dre Vol. 1. Meanwhile below are a few videos from the rapper's illustrious career. Rest in Thizz, Mac Dre!

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Live Concerts From Prisons and Mental Institutions

Posted by Billyjam, December 16, 2013 08:08am | Post a Comment

The Cramps Live at Napa State Mental Hospital(1978)

In Bay Area rap history there are several instances of artists rapping live from jail - perhaps most notably the late great Mac Dre rapping over the phone from Fresno County Jail back in the early nineties and X-Raided at that same period rapping over the phone on series of occasions that would finally be released as the 1995 album Xorcist (in later years the still incarcerated rapper would get smuggled in recording gear to record albums). But there are also many instances of artists performing for inmates at jails and prisons, as well as other institutions.

Of the performances in mental institutions perhaps the best (and the best known) is from when The Cramps, in June 1978, did a live show from the California Mental State Hospital in Napa. Also performing were San Francisco's wonderful post punk act The Mutants. It was when the pioneering psychobilly gods had just had just finished up recording Gravest Hits - to be released the following year that would include the track "The Way I Walk" that they are captured performing in the Napa hospital concert clip above care of Target Video.

The great Leonard Cohen also did a series of free concerts about forty years ago in mental institutions but without much media attention at the time. According to Sylvie Simmons' bio I'm Your Man Cohen performed, like the Cramps, at Napa State Hospital as well as at Henderson Hospital (in the UK), and at an unnamed facility in Montreal (Canada). Reportedly he booked these shows "without fanfare" and on his own dime, reportedly telling a reporter a few years later that he was drawn to mental hospitals because he had "the feeling that the experience of a lot of people in mental hospitals would especially qualify them to be a receptive audience for my work." Cohen later commented, according to Simmons, that “I’ve always loved the people the world used to call mad.”

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"Fruitvale Station" Is A Must-See Movie, Especially For Those In The Bay Area

Posted by Billyjam, July 17, 2013 01:54pm | Post a Comment


Fruitvale Station
- the award winning film about Oscar Grant that opened over the past weekend in select US city theaters and opens nationwide next week - is a highly recommended, really well made movie that anyone anywhere should enjoy viewing. But for those from the Oakland/Bay Area where the film's storyline is set (and filmed) the Ryan Coogler written and directed independent film will be particularly enjoyable, albeit sad and emotionally charged, since the storyline strikes so close to home. "Based on a true story" and capturing the final 24 + hours of the ill-fated life of the 22 year old African American, Hayward resident, who was famously shot and killed by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle in the early hours of New Year's Day 2009 in the BART station that carries the film's title, Fruitvale Station needs no spoiler alert. Unless you were living under a rock for the past four and a half years you know exactly what went down on that fateful day. Besides the film both opens and closes with the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant - the beginning done in that hand held phone/video style that most round the world saw on YouTube and the end in film style.  Like any really good film where you already know the outcome of its storyline Fruitvale Station is such a well written, acted, and perfectly paced film that even knowing exactly how the story will unfold audiences were still silently glued to the screen - truly a testament to the skill of first time director/Richmond CA resident Ryan Coogler.

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Happy 75th Birthday Golden Gate Bridge and Thank You for your Inspiration in Music, Film, and the Arts

Posted by Billyjam, May 27, 2012 12:23pm | Post a Comment

This Memorial Day Weekend in the Bay Area there are lots of fun events happening such as the annual San Francisco Carnaval celebrations in the Mission District, but the main event everyone seems to be talking about is the Golden Gate Bridge's 75th Year Anniversary, which culminates this evening (8pm to 10pm) with a big fireworks show over the iconic span that links Marin and San Francisco.

Yep, it's party time for sure in the Bay... especially in SF. Stretching along the San Francisco waterfront, from Fort Point to Pier 39, the main locations of the celebrations are at Crissy Field and the Marina Green with activities and events happening at the Presidio, Fort Mason Center, Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Fisherman's Wharf, and Pier 39. [Drivers note that not only will the Golden Gate Bridge itself be closed for two hours starting at 8pm this evening, but also the Marin Headlands will be completely closed off by CHP and park police. Traffic (especially on the Marin side) will be disrupted from approximately 6pm onwards.]

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