Amoeblog

New York State of Mind Amoeblog #21: Deep Cuts Record Store/Barber Shop, The Return of NY Hip-Hop, V-Day in NYC, Concerts + more

Posted by Billyjam, February 13, 2013 04:02pm | Post a Comment


In this week's New York State of Mind Amoeblog is a preview from the forthcoming XXL magazine on the return of New York hip-hop, a review of a unique new record store/barber shop  Deep Cuts at the Silent Barn in Bushwick Brooklyn, plus a novel, budget conscious, way to celebrating Valentines Day in New York City, as well as a righteous rewarding way to participate in V-Day's  One Billion Rising in NYC,  plus concerts picks and happenings for the week ahead.

Concerts include gospel great Mavis Staples (pictured right) on Feb. 14th as part of the American Songbook series in the Allen Room, Jazz At Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall at Broadway at 62th Street. 8pm show. More info 212 721-6500 and at AmercianSongbook. Also on Feb 14th (Valentine's Day) soul singer Freddie Jackson plays BB King's on 42nd Street in the Times Square area. More info. On Friday, Feb 15th heavy metal masters Meshuggah headline a bill at Roseland Ballroom on W 52nd near 8th Avenue with both Animals As Leaders and Intronaut opening. Tickets and info. Big Head Todd & The Monsters play Irving Plaza on Saturday, Feb 16th. More info. Longtime homegrown hip-hop acts M.O.P. and Smif-N-Wessun, both from Brooklyn, team up to play a show at the Highline Ballroom at 431 West 16th Street in the Chelsea district on Sunday Feb 17th. More info.
On Friday and Saturday (Feb 15 & 16) in celebration of Black History Month 2013 Reg E Gaines will present three performances of his multimedia one-man show The Last Celebrity  which is billed as a "non-linear look at Reg’s accidental brush with fame and his journey from obscure street poet to writer of the Tony Award winning musical, Bring in da Noise/Bring in da Funk." For each of his three performances (two on Saturday and one on Friday) he will have a different opening act. For the 7pm Friday show NJ to the Bay to NY artist Azeem will do a performance of his acclaimed one man show Rude. Technically it is not a New York event since it happens across the river over in Jersey City at Art House Productions at 1 McWilliams Place. But Jersey City is only a five minute PATH train ride from WTC station in Lower Manhattan. Tickets are $10 and you can buy them here.

"New York is back" - that's the word according to New York City based Harris Publications hip-hop magazine XXL who, in celebration of this proclamation, feature on the cover of their brand new (March/April) issue both Harlem’s A$AP Rocky and The Bronx’s French Montana in both solo covers and the joint cover (left). These two newcomer NYC rap stars, "are sure to be two of 2013’s most celebrated MCs" write XXL's editors. A$AP Rocky’s debut album (as distinct from his mixtapes), LONG.LIVE.A$AP, debuted at No. 1 on the Amoeba chart and on Billboard 200 upon its release last month. Meanwhile fellow NY rapper French Montana's debut disc, Excuse My French, will drop on April 16th and is expected to do extremely well. In the new XXL issue, which hits stands nationwide on February 19th, both artists give intimate in-depth interviews with Rocky talking about such things as his former drug dealing days and the recent death of his father, and Montana discussing such things as his relationship with 50 Cent and his feelings on that almost deadly day he was shot in the head.

Black History Month Leap Year Review: the Good, the Sad & the Bizarre

Posted by Billyjam, March 2, 2012 11:40am | Post a Comment

Among the "good" of this year's Black History Month was Robert Glasper's excellent
Black Radio album on Blue Note released Feb 28th, 2012


Maybe it's because this is a leap year that Black History Month 2012, which ended two days ago, seemed a little out of whack. Or maybe it was because it was a Black History Month that started on a really bad note when, on the morning of Feb 1st, the tragic news that Don Cornelius of Soul Train fame had taken his own life was the first thing we were to read about. That was bad enough but this tragic news came hot on the heels of the world losing a string of other black music/cultural icons, including in just the preceding two weeks both Etta James and JImmy Castor.  And then, of course, ten days later, on the eve of the Grammys, the whole world was taken aback with the shocking news that Whitney Houston had died at age 48. Not exactly a great time to joyously celebrate black history!

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Elzhi Pays Tribute To Nas Classic

Posted by Billyjam, June 8, 2011 11:00am | Post a Comment

Elzhi "It Ain't Hard to Tell" (from Elmatic, 2011)


While you cannot repeat the greatness of a hip-hop classic verbatim, you sure can pay homage to it. Case in point is the fantastic new Elizhi tribute to Nas' timeless "It Ain't Hard To Tell" from the hip-hop legend's critically acclaimed 1994 debut album Illmatic. The inspired tribute track by the underrated gifted Detroit emcee Elzhi (video above directed by Michael Castelaz) appears on his new 10-track mixtape CD Elmatic which, in conjunction with XXL magazine is available for free download here. It was produced entirely by Will Sessions with guest spots from both Illmatic beatmaker Pete Rock and Detroit rapper Royce da 5’9” (who this month will be dropping the Eminem collab Bad Meets Evil's Hell The Sequel EP on Shady Records)

It is now 20 years since Nas first appeared on record when in 1991, then known as Nasty Nas, the teenaged MC made a memorable cameo on Main Source's single "Live At The BBQ." from the album Breaking Atoms. The following year he made another great guest spot on 3rd Bass' MC Serch's "Back To The Grill Again" single. Serch became Nas' manager and was instrumental in him signing with Columbia Records and hence in launching the career of one of hip-hop's greatest lyricists. The single "Halftime" from Serch's soundtrack for the 1992 movie Zebrahead was Nas' official solo debut. The song would also appear on Nas' debut album Illmatic which would not be released until two years later, in 1994.

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HIP-HOP BEHIND BARS: A FIRST PERSON ACCOUNT BY X-RAIDED, PT I

Posted by Billyjam, October 20, 2009 06:22pm | Post a Comment
Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga

Back in February of this year when the Amoeblog, in celebration of Black History Month, featured a series of blogs about various aspects of black culture, I invited long incarcerated rapper Anerae “X-Raided” Brown to participate in the series. Brown, who has been behind bars for over half his lifetime, did this in two parts: in both the form of an Amoeblog interview and also via an in depth essay he wrote under the title Black History Month: A Convict's Perspective.

Like everything else Brown writes, from his lyrics to his still to be published autobiography to the guest articles he has penned for Murder Dog rap magazine, X-Raided's writing is always articulate and X-Raidedinformative. Furthermore, it provides an insight into a world that most of us, thankfully, will never have to enter. Brown has been incarcerated since age 17 on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder -- he never killed anyone but was young and foolish enough, he readily admits, to have been caught up in the gang lifestyle, and to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I have known the 34 year old Brown since he was first incarcerated. Initially I got to know him as a journalist reporting on him and his rap career, something he incredibly has managed to maintain from behind bars over the years (he just released his latest, The Unforgiven Vol. 2, three weeks ago). But as the years progressed he has become a friend and someone I admire for maintaining both his sanity and creativity all the while being locked in the pen. If you have ever been behind bars or if you have ever visited anyone in jail or prison you have an idea of how horrible it is to be incarcerated.

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