Ice T Documentary "The Art Of Rap" Inspired Tour Returns To CA July 2016 With Acts Including Public Enemy, EPMD & MC Lyte

Posted by Billyjam, June 9, 2016 01:32pm | Post a Comment

The excellent star-studded The Art of Rap Tour hits the road again this summer with two California dates, returning to the Bay Area (Warfied July 24th) and Los Angeles (Hollywood Palladium July 22).  A revamped line-up from last summer, the 2016 tour features Public Enemy headlining along with many others including of course Ice-T who curated the acclaimed 2012 documentary Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap that inspired this tour. The hip-hop documentary itself focuses on the rap/rhyme element of hip-hop with the tour's acts all subjects of the film. The documentary Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap is available from Amoeba in DVD. Additionally available is the recommended accompanying The Art of Rap  soundtrack (also in LP) that features lots of the freestyle and live versions of songs featured throughout the documentary). Executive produced by British filmmakers and curated/directed by Ice T, the film won rave reviews in both the UK and USA. The long list of artists featured in the documentary include Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick, and the Cold Crush Brothers featuring Grandmaster Caz.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Public Enemy and X-Clan's Role As Part of NYC's Revolutionary Rap Soundtrack of Unrest of 1989/1990

Posted by Billyjam, March 8, 2016 11:50pm | Post a Comment

In 1989 Public Enemy's raw rebellious rap anthem "Fight The Power" reigned supreme. An across the board hit, it was the theme driving the soundtrack of Spike Lee's classic movie Do The Right Thing. Public Enemy performing live and the striking imagery of an emotionally charged political rally set the tone for the accompanying music video. Spike Lee directed the music video, which included clips from his film Do The Right Thing. Perfect and perfectly complimentary, the Brooklyn set video captured both PE and Spike Lee at their respective creative peaks. Each used their art to reflect life in a pitch-perfect way. 

Meanwhile, in real life Brooklyn of 1989, thousands of agitated protesters took to the Brooklyn Bridge. The September protest that upset traffic and authorities ended in riot cops going against protesters. "A mile-long protest march against racism and the recent killing of a black youth…a predominantly black crowd of 7,500 demonstrators breached the police lines in an attempt to cross the bridge and carry the protest into Manhattan," reported the New York Times on this "Day Of Outrage" protest. Led in part by the late X-Clan member Professor X under his Blackwatch political organization, the protest was designed to bring the city to a halt and bring attention to injustices. As well as protesting the August 23rd murder of 16-year-old Bensonhurst resident Yusef Hawkins by a gang of white youths, the protest was also about the August 22nd slaying of Huey P. Newton. The shooting of the 47-year-old former Black Panther leader occurred in Oakland, CA. Hawkins was shot and killed near his home by a bat-wielding white mob who believed he was dating a local white girl.

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Top Five Hip-Hop Cyber Monday Gift Ideas

Posted by Billyjam, November 30, 2015 11:41am | Post a Comment

Today is Cyber Monday until 11:59pm Pacific Time and Amoeba has slashed prices by 20% on items on! Just enter the special CYBER20 code at checkout to receive the discount. This sale include some truly dope hip-hop records and CDs that would make both perfect holiday gifts for others and treats for oneself. Below is a top ten list of some of the best hip-hop Cyber Monday gift ideas, and all at 20% off plus free shipping in the U.S. All are classic hip-hop recordings, mostly recent re-releases in either original or newly presented packaging. They include both CD and vinyl releases that are all reduced significantly today only for Cyber Monday at Amoeba Music.    

1) Public Enemy's latest, recommended (13th studio) album Man Plans God Laughs + the Chuck D led crew's hits collection Fight The Power: The Collection together as a two CD set make for the perfect introduction to one of the greatest acts in hip-hop history. I cannot recommend PE's latest album Man Plans God Laughs (also available in vinyl) enough. With incredible production ? Gary G Wiz and Carl Ryder (aka Chuck D) the new album manages to capture the PE vibe of old and blend it together on the new tracks on this five star album. Meanwhile the Fight The Power: The Collection  clocks in at one hour, ten minutes with 16 tracks featuring all the classics and more. Included are "Fight The Power," "Don't Believe The Hype," "Public Enemy No. 1," "Rebel Without A Pause," "Night Of The Living Baseheads," "Louder Than A Bomb," "Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos," "Burn Hollywood Burn (feat. Ice Cube)," "By The Time I Get To Arizona" and "Can't Truss It." Regularly priced at $9.98 while the new CD released by SPITdigital is $13.98 = total of $23.96 but with Cyber Monday Amoeba discount = $19.17!

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Ten Current Tracks That Prove 2015 Hip-Hop Is In A Very Healthy State (Audio + Video)

Posted by Billyjam, October 31, 2015 05:10pm | Post a Comment

You can't blame some hip-hop fans for complaining that there's no good new hip-hop being made anymore, provided they are not making a blanket statement about all new hip-hop but merely referring to the bulk of what's popular in new rap & hip-hop these days. You know, the stuff that you hear blasted everywhere and repeated ad-nauseam on commercial radio. But the truth is that, if you take a little time and research to seek it out, there is in fact more good hip-hop being released now than ever. A lot of this new music's production and rhyme delivery pays respect to hip-hop's deep rich past while still pushing the genre forward and sounding new.

Below I have assembled ten tracks from the past few months with accompanying videos (some audio only) of new hip-hop that proves the genre is alive and well.  Alongside new hip-hop artists are many longtime acts who are still making quality music - even if not to the same wide an audience as they once commanded. I heard a few old school hip-hop fans comment recently how they didn't realize that Public Enemy (PE) were still around until seeing the longtime revolutionary group's recent live set on Jimmy Kimmel Live. PE never went away and recently released their best album in years - Man Plans God Laughs - that they performed the title track from on JKL (video below) in a "Fight The Power" medley since the song references back to the original from 26 years ago. NorCal legendary duo Blackalicious returned after a decade's absence with a powerful, fan-funded new album Imani, Vol 1 (LP version). Currently on a UK tour, they've been winning accolades for both the album and their performances. The NorCal duo have attracted a whole new wave of fans in recent times due to Daniel Radcliffe who did a rendition of their 1999 ABC tongue-twisting song "Alphabet Aerobics" on The Tonight Show a year ago.

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Zeke Thomas' "Blackness" featuring Chuck D and Jasiri X Addresses Key Issue of The Day

Posted by Billyjam, June 23, 2015 04:49pm | Post a Comment

Zeke Thomas "Blackness (feat. Chuck D & Jasiri X)" (2015)

If you ever despair that comedy seems to have eclipsed music's once key role as the lead thought-provoking voice, offering insights into the news making social and political issues of the day, Zeke Thomas's vibrant new track "Blackness" featuring Chuck D and Jasiri X will dispell that feeling. The song and its accompanying Charlie Zwick directed video above prove that popular music can still be political and central to the national dialog.  And right now that national dialog seems to be squarely focused on the topic of race in America. It is the also the one addressed by EDM producer Zeke Thomas — the club DJ / producer / son of NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas on the track "Blackness" whose release could not have been more perfectly timed with its publication over the past week. On "Blackness" Thomas is joined by the always politically outspoken hip-hop voices of veteran rap revolutionary Public Enemy's Chuck D, along with contemporary political rapper (self-described "Raptivist") with some  in-your-face, social commentary. Reportedly it was longtime political activist Harry Belafonte who introduced the Thomas to both Chuck D and Jasiri X. The introduction came from his organization Sankofa that encourages "artists and performers of color to actively create art that may serve as a catalyst for positive cultural evolution" for the single that was released by Tommy Boy. My hope is that Thomas will release a hip-hop mix too. My other hope is that a new wave of political rap like when PE were at their peak 25 + years ago, with powereful outspoken songs like "Black Steel In The Hour of Chaos" off the album It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back (video below), will make a re-emergence in popularity.

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