Amoeblog

Hip-Hop Rap-Up, Week End 06.07.14: Top 5, OMCA's VINYL, DJ Platurn, Too $hort, Dregs One @ Slim's, Scratch Cypher in The Town

Posted by Billyjam, June 8, 2014 04:20pm | Post a Comment


During last evening's Bay Area hip-hop themed Talk, Play, and Sip session I hosted at the Oakland Museum of California - as part of OMCA's ongoing Amoeba sponsored VINYL: The Sound and Culture of Records - several participants addressed in their shares the importance of hip-hop as a vehicle for a message of upliftment and/or awareness rather than simply mindless escapism and glorification of consumerism, sexism, and casual violence. Speakers including Bas-One, Adisa Banjoko (below), and Eric Arnold each addressed the topic as did DJ Platurn (pictured above) who observed that to his fellow speakers, who all came up in the era of politicized, positive thinking hip-hop via artists like Public Enemy and the Bay Area's Paris, were all conditioned to view hip-hop as a powerful medium of message and change. DJ Platurn's Talk N Play 45's record selections reflected that too, especially Too $hort's classic 1990 single "The Ghetto" (off Short Dog's In The House) which addresses the poverty and economic disparity of urban areas like Oakland. Also noted at last night's OMCA session was how Bay Area hip-hop has traditionally included many politicized artists. One such current example is Dregs One who, along with host Equipto and a grip of other SF artists and speakers (see flyer for full lineup), take over Slim's tonight in a benefit hip-hop show that will address pressing local community issues such as evictions, gentrification, and police brutality.

The 20 Best 1980's Hip-Hop Albums

Posted by Billyjam, May 26, 2014 12:00pm | Post a Comment

When fellow Amoeblogger Billy Gil, who has done a number of Best Of lists in various genres, invited me to do some hip-hop best-of lists I had mixed feelings about the task. While I love drawing up lists of my favorite hip-hop releases from different eras and regions, I know that no matter what I include or how I position/rate it, later I will feel some kind of regret thinking that maybe I should have included or excluded a release or not ranked it as high on the list. And I am sure there will be commenters who will have the same critical thoughts (a la "I can't believe you didn't include ______ or that you ranked____ as number one," etc.). Simply put, it is difficult to narrow down Best Of lists because firstly it's personal and subjective, and secondly because a list I (or you) may draw up today will be different from one we might compile in a year's time. Musical tastes and opinions, especially in retrospect, are constantly in flux for me anyway.

Furthermore, sometimes an album or a single will rate high on one list (depending on the category) but not so on another. An example from this list would be Too $hort who would rank up the top of a Bay Area list but lower on an overall hip-hop album list of the 80's. Then there are all of those amazing hip-hop singles that were only singles, non-album cuts, or were culled from albums that otherwise were not as strong overall. Or in the case of Malcolm McLaren's 1983 album Duck Rock, which technically is a diverse genre album with hip-hop content and packaged in a hip-hop fashion from its cover art to how it is meshed together by the Worlds Famous Supreme Team radio show, it doesn't technically qualify as a hip-hop album. Add to my not included on the list 80's albums: such compilations as Mr Magic's Rap Attack series since I tried to focus purely on artist (vs. compilation) releases with the exception of one soundtrack on the list. Anyway, to combat all of this, I plan on doing many more best-of hip-hop lists with the goal being to include as many titles of great records as possible overall.
 

Continue reading...

Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Too $hort's Landmark Release "Life Is....Too $hort"

Posted by Billyjam, April 29, 2014 02:45pm | Post a Comment
In true battle rap tradition the cover of Too $hort's classic late eighties album Life Is…Too $hort shows the Oakland rapper, in a now iconic photo by Oakland photographer Victor Hall, triumphantly posing over the headstone of one of his fictitious fallen rap rivals "Sucker MC John Doe" who was "Born on Stage" and "Died on Wax. Rest In Peace."   The ten track album was originally released 26 years ago and, of the close to twenty albums that the prolific, pioneering Oakland rapper born (in LA) Todd Shaw has put out over an illustrious career that dates back to the early eighties and continues up to this day, Life Is...Too Short (along with Born To Mack), remains among the most popular Too $hort albums with diehard fans who identify with the artist's notorious player/mack persona.

Released in January 1988 when he was already "Eight years on the mic and I'm not joking. Sir Too Short coming straight from Oakland," Life Is...Too Short was the rapper's fifth album and his second for Jive Records - co-released and first released via the East Bay indie Dangerous Music. Over rumbling bass-lines and predominantly slowed down BPM booming tracks, mostly produced by Al Eaton at his now legendary East Bay One Little Indian Studios, Life is..... offered up plenty of $hort Dog's trademark "nasty raps" to satisfy fans of his Richard Pryor-meets-Blowfly inspired sexually explicit rhymes  that were personified by the previous album's (Born To Mack) underground hit "Freaky Tales."  $hort continued that theme on such tracks as "Pimp Tha Hoe,"  the sexually charged "Don't Fight The Feeling" (that, along with the Dangerous Crew compilation - also via Dangerous Music - introduced the rap world to a pre "Players Club" Rappin' 4-Tay), and the self-explanatory "Cuss Words" which, not surprisingly, offered a non-stop barrage of cuss word  tales of naughty nastiness that began with $hort rapping, "To all you bitches, hoes, and all that shit. Here's another rap that I'm ready to spit. It goes like this, my name is $hort. I'm tearin shit up like never before Pimp slaps, makin snaps. Cold cash money and Too $hort raps." The song, which shocked parent groups at the time, went on to include $hort threatening to "fuck your wife" with the "your" being anyone who crossed his path.

Continue reading...

Cyber Monday on Amoeba.com: Special Online Deals Today! 20% Off Everything, Including Pre-Orders!

Posted by Billyjam, December 2, 2013 05:30am | Post a Comment

For those of you not fortunate enough to live within traveling distance to one of Amoeba Music's three retail stores - Berkeley, San Francisco, and Hollywood - and to have taken advantage of Black Friday Record Store Day, today you can make up for it with Amoeba's Cyber Monday deal: 20% off everything you purchase online. Just use the special code CYBER20 today, December 2nd, to get your discount.

That 20% off discount is applicable across the board on all online purchases today, including vinyl reissues such as Sly & The Family Stone's Higher

The deal also includes 20% off on pre-orders so you can get the big discount on albums that are coming soon! These include anticipated releases such as Lady Gaga's upcoming anticipated album ARTPOP that drops on December 24th and features guest spots from  Too $hort, Twista, and T.I.

Continue reading...

Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: The Roots of Oakland Rap and The Birth of Bay Area Hip-Hop in the 1980s

Posted by Billyjam, November 26, 2013 06:15pm | Post a Comment

Motorcycle Mike
Today's richly vibrant, prolific, and diverse Bay Area hip-hop  scene, with thousands of artists currently making a broad range of styles, humbly began in Oakland 32 years ago back in 1981. It was early in that year when the very first Oakland rap release (also the very first known Bay Area rap release) dropped: Motorcycle Mike's single "Super Rat." The record arrived in a time when hip-hop or rap music was still considered an East Coast/New York artform that, for some odd (elitist?) reason, could not hail from the West Coast. This belief was challenged with releases like releases like Motorcyle Mike's debut 12" rap single. That record by the artist, who was also known as Motorcycle Mike Dappa, was entitled "Super Rat" and was produced by Gerald Robinson and released on the tiny indie Hodisk Records -- the label run by Nicky Moore that also relToo $hort Don't Stop Rappineased the Numonics.  Born Phil Lewis and influenced by Bootsy Collins as much as the Sugarhill Gang,  Motorcycle Mike was, not surprisingly, a motorbike fanatic. Pro-Black in its message, "Super Rat" featured the early Oakland rapper drawing an analogy between the then much talked about Norwegian "super rats," who could not be killed by poison but instead got stronger, and the underdog black man in Oakland and other American urban areas who could not be kept down. Motorcycle Mike's original Oakland rap record was followed up later that same year from the East Bay city by the 12" single “Tally Ho!” on Walker Star Records from Steve Walker - an artist who would re-emerged some years later to record under the name Biscuit.

Continue reading...
<<  1  2  3  4  5  6  >>  NEXT