This month Too $hort, the Godfather of Oakland rap/hip-hop, will be playing two concerts at Oakland's Fox Theater at 1807 Telegraph Ave. in the Uptown district. After quickly selling out the original sole scheduled hometown show, taking place this Saturday March 26th, a second Fox Theater date was added at the same venue for next week, Thursday March 31st. Both are 8pm shows. Buy tix here: $39.50 and $49.50 + fees. Both Oakland concerts will feature a live band backing Too $hort, along with opening acts Zion I, The Grouch & Eligh and DJ Fresh.
The two Oakland concerts by the consistently active rap artist born Todd Shaw are part of the veteran hip-hop artist's ongoing celebration of thirty years in the rap game. These have included recent concerts in Las Vegas and last week in Austin during SxSW. But of all his recent concert dates across the US, it's $hort's hometown shows that have gotten the overwhelmingly best response. Clearly Too $hort fans in Oakland and the greater Bay Area outnumber fans everywhere else, even in LA where he was born, and currently lives, or Atlanta where he had previously relocated to for a period. In Bay Area hip-hop circles both fans and fellow hip-hop artists, from hardcore rap to conscious hip-hop and turntablism, totally love their Too $hort! They not only love his music but also his rich legacy as a West Coast rap pioneer. That includes his early days primitive but profitable "custom made" tape recordings, and his (and manager Randy Austin's) trailblazing "out the trunk" approach to grassroots distribution. Plus the fact that, in a genre that most artists are lucky to make to ten years in their careers, that he's into his third decade as a relevant hip-hop artist. More importantly he's done it all on his own terms.
That old adage "do what you love" is perfectly applicable to the weed loving, nationally acclaimed prolific Bay Area rapper Berner. For the past decade plus this rap artist, weed activist/entrepreneur born Gilbert Anthony Mano has crafted a unique and phenomenally lucrative and fun career, all the while balancing his two main life passions of weed and rap music. Having built a strong rep as rap recording and performing artist, to date Berner's rich back catalog boasts 14 albums including his most recent full-length release found at Amoeba, Drought Season 3, which is just one of many dropped on his own prolific Bern One Ent. record label. Equally respected by rap fans and peers, Berner's countless studio collaborations over the years include full length releases with such fellow Bay Area artists as Messy Marv, Equipto and the late great rapper The Jacka with whom he recorded the three part aforementioned Drought Season trilogy. Others in the really long list of Berner collabs include B-Real, Snoop Dogg, Nipsey Hussle, Young Thug, and Too $hort. Perhaps even more widely known in hip-hop is his longstanding relationship and collaborative work with Wiz Khalifa. Having been down since day one with the Pittsburgh, PA based, fellow weed loving hip-hop star Wiz Khalifa, the Bay Area artist counts himself as among those part of Khalifa's elite Taylor Gang Ent. label crew along with such others as Project Pat, Chevy Woods, Ty Dolla $ign, and Tuki Carter.
Now that February has arrived, 2016 hip-hop will officially kick into full gear with lots of new releases dropping. January is traditionally a slow month for new releases. This year was a little different since there were additional January releases that were reissues of older classic material, mostly on vinyl but some on CD too. These included latest (and there's been a few!) reissue of KMD's storied second album Black Bastards. The new 2LP pressing comes with gatefold pop-up album cover design and booklet included. Released by MF DOOM's record label Metal Face Records, it was recently profiled here on the Amoeblog. Another 2016 vinyl reissue is Lil Ugly Mane's Mista Thug Isolation LP c/o Hundebiss, which is among the entries on the latest Amoeba Berkeley Top Five hip-hop chart (see below). That chart, courtesy of E-Lit, also includes the must-get 2LP reissue of the classic 1995 album from The Pharcyde, Labcabincalifornia, c/o Bicycle Music Company.
Yet another lost to cancer! Today Clarence Reid, the man known to music fans as Blowfly (aka the original dirty rapper), passed away from terminal liver cancer and multiple organ failure. He had been diagnosed a few years ago but not too many people knew about it until this past week when his musical collaborator Tom Bowker announced how Reid had just entered hospice care in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida and that he was not expected to survive much longer in his battle against cancer.
Again today it was Bowker, via social media, who announced Blowfly's death, writing how "Clarence Reid, the genius known both by his given name and as Blowfly, the Master of Class, passed peacefully today, January 17th, in his hospice room." In his original message to the late artist's fans, he thanked those who in 2014 had rallied their financial support and helped save Blowfly from losing his house and by so doing "kept his last days comfortable." He also noted how Blowfly had been making one final album ("his best album since the early 80s") that he called "a fitting epitaph for one of the great performers of all time." Entitled 77 Rusty Trombones, it is scheduled to be released next month and will be the artist's follow-up to 2012's Black In The Sack.