Remembering San Francisco MC African Identity + How You Can Help His Family

Posted by Billyjam, September 16, 2015 02:26pm | Post a Comment

Late last night Pam the Funkstress posted a sad social media update to her Instagram and Facebook pages with the news that fellow veteran Bay Area hip-hop artist African Identity, who rose to fame in the early nineties with his firebrand mic skills and hardcore political hybrid style, had died yesterday, September 15th, 2015. In addition to her update, including noting how she had just seen him in the past month, Pam posted the above photo of the late great artist for whom no cause of death has yet been announced. The Fillmore, San Francisco emcee named Hunafa, but known to most as African Identity and sometimes as just Identity, will be remembered for such releases as Ransom Note and You Won’t Come To My Funeral. By the time his debut album You Won’t Come To My Funeral was released in 1995 the microphone master was already a respected mainstay on the healthy 1990's Bay Area hip-hop scene - ever since arriving with a bang in 1992 with his acclaimed single, “Let’s Get It On (Pullin That Trigger).”

In the capacities of hip-hop journalist, radio DJ, and concert producer I worked directly with African Identity on numerous occasions throughout the decade of the nineties and always knew him to be both a good person and most talented (albeit largely underrated) artist, especially when it came to flexing his freestyle skills. In the first half of that decade I would have him as a regular guest on my KUSF hip-hop radio show on the USF campus, not far from where he lived. I remember how listeners really appreciated his improv rhyme skills and how they nominated him as the “number 1 Bay Area freestyler" on the now defunct San Francisco radio station. Meantime over at KMEL African Identity had been nominated as the first runner up in their heated Battle Of The Rappers. With a now eerie sounding reference to his own funeral, the San Francisco artist's debut album, You Won't Come to My Funeral, was a largely slept-on, talent-packed Bay Area hip-hop gem. It featured an impressive roster of his peers as guests that included Pam the Funkstress' group The Coup, Del tha Funke Homosapien (who also did some production), the GLP's JT Tha Bigga Figga, and D-Moe, Shock G of Digital Underground, Young Woo, Psycho Gangsta, Double D, Cisco The Frisco Mack, Blackbook, and Screwface. Produced mostly by Nick Peace but with some additional studio work by Del and J-Mack, the album defined both the Bay Area sound at the time as well as that of the artist himself. In the period right before its mid-nineties release he summed up the richly diverse 14 track album as “enlightening, tantalizing, sensational, provocative, political, Afro-centric, Euro-centric, it’s everything that we are....”.

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Hiero Day 2015 Lineup To Include Alkaholiks, Domo Genesis, Aceyalone, The Coup, Cali Agents, Luniz, CMW, HBK, Zion I, & Equipto

Posted by Billyjam, August 25, 2015 07:50am | Post a Comment

The folks at Oakland's Hieroglyphics hip-hop collective have announced the anticipated lineup for this year's Hiero Day that does not disappoint and happens on Monday, September 7th at 3rd and Chestnut Streets in Oakland. In addition to headlining act the Hieros, whose membership boasts members such as Souls of Mischief, Del the Funky Homosapien, Casual, and DJ Toure, this year's amazing Hiero Day 2015 lineup will feature 45 diverse acts across three stages that covers various eras and subgenres of hip-hop. This impressive lineup will include Tha Alkaholiks, who arrived on the hip-hop scene the same time as the Hieros; Odd Future's Domo Genesis; Cali Agents (Rasco and Planet Asia); Stones Throw founder DJ/producer Peanut Butter Wolf; Boots Riley's legendary Oakland political hip-hop soldiers The Coup; Freestyle Fellowship's super-gifted emcee Aceyalonelegendary Oakland rap duo the Luniz; Raashan Ahmad's group formerly known as The Mission - Crown City RockersMC Eiht's legendary '90s SoCal rap group Compton's Most Wanted; hometown hip-hop heroes Foreign Legion; Rhymesayers' female emcee talent Psalm One (who changed her name for a minute in recent years); Zion I, Phat Kat & Guilty Simpson; Equipto & Otayo Dubb; HBK members Kool John, P-Lo, and Jay Ant in separate sets; and hyphy era stars The Team

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The Coup's Boots Riley Keeps The Revolution Alive & Discusses His Ambitious "Shadowbox" Stage Production

Posted by Billyjam, November 21, 2014 10:18am | Post a Comment

About a quarter way into the The Coup's amazing world premiere of Shadowbox - the longtime politicized Oakland hip-hop group's ambitious multifaceted, mixed media, multi-stage production that played as a preview for only two shows at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) - front-man/emcee Boots Riley pointed to the giant floor-to-ceiling artwork by East Bay street artist Jon-Paul Bail. The East Bay muralist's giant cityscape print, that wrapped its way around all walls of the entire performance space at YBCA, was an accurate image of the changing city that awaited outside the museum's walls. Skyscrapers and other towering buildings with bold logos emblazoned on them of American born and bred entities like Twitter, Google, IBM, AT&T, NRA, and the PMRC acted as the perfect backdrop to the revolutionary hip-hop group's message of Shadowbox - to question authority and rebel against exploitative predatory corporations and the politicians that they've paid off to continue their rise to power at the expense of increasingly poorer working class of America.

In addition to Boots Riley and his full live band, the large scale production boasted numerous other artists joining the Coup on three stages (sometimes simultaneously) including Dead Prez, Classical Revolution, W. Kamau Bell, Mortar & Pestle, Snow Angel, Eat The Fish Presents, and Extra Action Marching Band. The choice of all of these artists, like the inclusion of Jon-Paul Bail's art work and the video projections and other stage designs by David Szlasa, was all the brainchild of Boots Riley. The Coup mainman has been a fan and friend of Bail's for many years and the inclusion of his art seemed like a no-brainer, he told the YBCA audience.

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Brian Coleman's Bay Area Book Tour In Support of "Check The Technique Volume 2"

Posted by Billyjam, November 13, 2014 01:22pm | Post a Comment
Respected longtime music journalist/hip-hop fanatic Brian Coleman will be in the Bay Area this week to promote his brand new book Check the Technique Volume 2 (Wax Facts) that picks up where the 2007 published first volume and its 2005 predecessor left off with "more liner notes for hip-hop junkies" as the engaging, information packed 526 page new book accurately promises on its cover.

Spanning 25 chapters with over 80 interviews and tons of accompanying images Coleman has meticulously presented the back story of 25 albums and 325 hip-hop songs (some eighties but mostly nineties) with the artists, producers, plus some label execs associated with them weighing in on these recordings. The end result is a page turner packed with  insights and answers to questions you might have had, or had not thought you wondered about until reading this enlightening book.

The chapters include The Coup Steal This Album, Diamond and the Psychotic Neurotics Stunts, Blunts & Hip Hop, Dr. Octagon Dr. Octagonecologyst, Ice Cube AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted & Kill At Will, Masta Ace Incorporated SlaughtaHouse, Kool G Rap & DJ Polo Wanted: Dead Or Alive, ED O.G & Da Bulldogs Life Of A Kid In The Ghetto, Jeru The Damaja The Sun Rises In The East, Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star, and KMD Black Bastards. Meanwhile the accompanying artist interviews include ones with such hip-hop acts as DJ Jazzy Jeff, Ice Cube, Mos Def & Talib Kweli, Mantronix, MF Doom, and Company Flow.

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JR Valrey Discusses His Second Book, Unfinished Business: Block Reportin' 2

Posted by Billyjam, February 10, 2014 09:25am | Post a Comment

jr valreyOakland author JR Valrey has just published his powerful second book - Unfinished Business: Block Reportin 2. The author/journalist/broadcaster/activist who is also known as the People's Minister of Information will be doing two Bay Area book readings this month in celebration of this second publication in an ongoing series at both of the Bay Area branches of the wonderful Marcus Books: at the San Francisco Marcus Books (1712 Fillmore St.) on February 13th, and at the Oakland Marcus Books (3900 Martin Luther King Jr. Way) on February 22nd.

Two years ago, during Black History Month 2012, JR Valrey acted as a guest Amoeblogger here and wrote an insightful piece titled The Black Experience Study Guide: My Top 7 Books, Movies, and Albums for Black History Month. That piece followed a profile/interview with Valrey from a couple of months earlier on the topic of his first book Block Reportin. This week I again caught up with the busy Oakland-based Valrey to talk about his latest book, its subjects, and some of the topics covered in it and his opinions on them.

Amoeblog: Is it fair to call Unfinished Business a sequel to / a continuation of your last book and does it continue that book's same format?

JR Valrey: I guess you can say that. The only continuity between Block Reportin" and Unfinished Business is that they are both books consisting of a compilation of interviews; interviews that I did as a print and broadcast journalist over the years.  The third installment of the series, which is yet to be named, will include 28 interviews so that the total number of interviews that I have put out in book form will number 100.

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