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Bobby Robinson (Enjoy Records), R.I.P.

Posted by Billyjam, January 10, 2011 03:17pm | Post a Comment

Bobby Robinson, the founder of one of the earliest record labels to release hip-hop music, Enjoy Records, died over the weekend at age 93. Robinson, who also ran the famous 125th Street Harlem, NY record store Bobby's Happy House from the late 1940's up until a few years ago, oversaw the Enjoy Records label out of the same upper Manhattan location from the early 60's through to the end of the 80's.

Through this pioneering label, where he initially released music by blues, soul, and R&B artists (he is credited with discovering Gladys Knight & The Pips), he moved into hip-hop by the end of the 70's. Hip-hop artists signed and released by Robinson include such formative-years figures as Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Funky Four + One More, The Treacherous Three, and Spoonie G (his nephew). In 1979 Enjoy Records released the 12" single by Funky Four + One More, “Rappin’ And Rockin’ The House,” and the classic “Superrappin’" 12" single by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five who soon after would get scooped up by Sugar Hill Records. And although Enjoy Records closed as a Enjoy Recordslabel in 1987, Robinson kept his famous central Harlem Bobby’s Happy House record store open until three years ago when he got evicted -- to much public outrage -- another victim of the economy.

As Dan Charnas, author of the recently published hip-hop history book, The Big Payback, wrote of Robinson and his famous record store: "Anyone who had been there in the past decade could tell you, [it] had a stream of visitors throughout the day, but nobody ever seemed to buy anything. The display cases were filled with rows of dusty, ancient CDs and cassette tapes. Folks were really coming to see Robinson: tourists from Europe on pilgrimage, neighbors and local characters stopping by between errands, old friends like Paul Winley checking on Bobby. Sometimes, like me, they’d wait for him. Bobby Robinson would usually saunter in mid-day — and what an entrance he would make. At 90, he was always clean, always sharp — usually in a bright-colored suit jacket that contrasted with his long, straight, shock-white hair. He walked slow, turned gradually, and sat tentatively. But when he looked at you, you almost felt zapped. A lot of life and light in those eyes."
 

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Hip-Hop Rap Up 01:07:11: Ghostface #1, David Banner's Makeover, Madchild Banned in the USA, Louie Skaggs, Sims + More

Posted by Billyjam, January 7, 2011 07:07am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music San Francisco Weekly Hip-Hop Top Five Chart: 01:07:11


1) Ghostface Killah Apollo Kids (Def Jam)

2) Andre Nickatina & Tha Jacka My Middle Name Is Crime EP (I-Khan Distribution)

3) Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam)

4) David Banner & 9th Wonder Death of a Pop Star (b.i.G.f.a.c.e. / Entertainment One Music)

5) Kid Cudi Man On The Moon 2: The Legend of Mr. Rager (Universal/Motown) 

Shout out to Luis at the San Francisco Amoeba store for supplying this week's top five chart. Since it's the first week of the new year, the chart entries are all late 2010 releases, with all but Kid Cudi and Kanye West dropping in December. Both Wu Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah's recommended, classic soul fueled Apollo Kids (Def Jam), which I wrote about in last week's Hip-Hop Rap Up, and David Banner & 9th Wonder's Death of a Pop Star (b.i.G.f.a.c.e. / Entertainment One Music) each dropped on December 21st and despite their release date (a period when typically albums get lost in the holiday madness) fans have managed to discover both wonderful releases.

Ghostface Killah "Drama (feat. Joell Ortiz & The Game)"  

David Banner & 9th Wonder "Slow Down (feat. Heather Victoria)" (2010)

While on the surface the pairing of mainstream rapper/producer David Banner with less mainstream North Carolina producer 9th Wonder might seem like an unlikely match, it is not. Banner's history dates back to Crooked Lettaz, his late nineties group that preceded his major label mainstream successes with such hits as "Play" and "Like A Pimp." And with this release, on which he has wisely fully relinquished all production duties to 9th Wonder, he marks a return to his roots. Deliberately titled Death of a Pop Star, Banner has connected with the smaller scale label Entertainment One (aka e One) -- formerly Koch -- in order to maintain more creative control (something he claims he did not have with the bigger labels).

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1979 NYC Gang Culture Documentary 80 Blocks From Tiffany's Offers Rare Insight Into Bygone Era

Posted by Billyjam, January 5, 2011 04:40pm | Post a Comment

Gary Weis
' 1979 film 80 Blocks From Tiffany's, which was just released on DVD, offers a rare and intimate glimpse into a gritty bygone era in New York City's history. This was a time when street gangs (or "clubs," as their members called them) like the notorious Savage Skulls and the Savage Nomads ruled the tough South Bronx section of NYC. 

The engaging documentary may only date back 32 years but, in terms of cultural differences, it seems like an eternity ago -- back when the Bronx was, as Weis told me in a recent telephone interview, "A whole different time and place. It was kind of like Dresden when I filmed there."80 blocks from tiffanys

Indeed, the South Bronx captured in 80 Blocks is the rubble-strewn, bombed out looking, New York City that ranked as one of the poorest areas in the nation back in '79. In fact, it was such a rundown, destitute place that both Presidents Carter and Reagan traveled there for photo ops to exemplify the most striking symbol they could find of urban decay in America. It was also the time and place when the subways were covered in graffiti and when a new music and culture called hip-hop was taking root in the "Boogie Down" Bronx, with hip-hop offering an alternative to gang culture to many in those formative years of the culture.

And it is this aspect of the film that has attracted so many to 80 Blocks From Tiffany's, since the film contains rare footage that has been reused in countless other films about that same period in NYC history such as Shan Nicholson's Rubble Kings and Travis Senger's White Lines and The Fever: The Death of DJ Junebug. "80 Blocks is the best documentation of the Bronx during the late 70's right before the gang culture started to fade away," Senger told me via email. He says the film acted as both an influence and a key source of content for his own film about the early days of a Bronx hip-hop club.

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Gerry Rafferty, RIP

Posted by Billyjam, January 4, 2011 01:37pm | Post a Comment

Gerry Rafferty
Scottish born pop/rock singer and songwriter Gerry Rafferty died today (January 4th) following a long illness triggered by a kidney failure. He was 63 and best known for his 1978 international mega hit "Baker Street" (video above) from his album City To City, as well as for the 1972 hit "Stuck in the Middle" (video below) by Stealers Wheel, the folk-rock band he formed with childhood Joe Egan. The band was considered, in the early seventies, to be a UK version of CSNY and their biggest hit ("Stuck") was a staple on AOR radio for many years, its popularity further fueled thanks to Quentin Tarantino's use of it in his movie Reservoir Dogs. In all Rafferty released a total of nine solo albums, his last one being 2000's Life Goes On.

Looking Back @ Hip-Hop in 2010

Posted by Billyjam, December 31, 2010 10:30pm | Post a Comment

2010 was another great year for hip-hop with a seemingly never-ending flow of quality releases dropping from both underground and mainstream hip-hop artists. Hence, it's impossible to fully represent the diversity of hip-hop in 2010 in any year-end column. But this Amoeblog will attempt to offer a sampler of some of the highlights of 2010 via revisiting some select Amoeba Hip-Hop Top 5 charts along with some accompanying videos. Also below are some best-of 2010 lists from Luis F Soria (Amoeba San Francisco), Ray Ricky Rivera (Amoeba Hollywood), DJ Inti (Amoeba Berkeley), and myself (Amoeblog).

The lists of 2010 releases below only scratch the surface of what came out this past year, which proves just how vibrant hip-hop was in 2010. It was everywhere, with artists crossing over more than ever into pop, rock, & dance. And while 2010 saw a ton of newcomers drop impressive albums, it was also a year when many longtime artists delivered some of their best work. Eminem, Big Boi, E40 and Ghostface Killah each had stellar releases. Also impressive in 2010 were Dres from Black Sheep, Sadat X, Rah Digga, and Son of Bazerk and No Self Control, who returned with the killer jackin for beats track, "I Swear On a Stack of Old Hits," released by Chuck D's Slamjamz label. Unfortunately, when they performed live, opening for Public Enemy in 2010, they weren't as good as on record or video (see below). Consistently great in concert including on their 2010 tour was Public Enemy whose 1991 single "By The Time I Get To Arizona" inspired many and took on a new meaning in 2010 with Arizona's Senate Bill 1070, or SB 1070.
Bored Stiff
DJ Shadow's Shadowsphere tour was among the best shows of 2010. Zion I's recent Atomic Clock tour was also on the money. Gurp Fest, earlier this month, proved that the party driven, raw hip-hop Bay Area bred movement is on the brink of blowing up. Among the many Bay Area artists making noise in 2010 were Richmond's Erk Tha Jerk, Vallejo's Moe Green, and Fillmore San Francisco's DaVinci. Veteran SF hip-hop crew Bored Stiff released the free digital album Now More Than Ever in 2010 but tragically lost a member when earlier this month Rick Fairley, aka Big Kwanz, died in his sleep from a heart attack. He was only 36. Hip-hop lost many others too in 2010, notably GURU of Gang Starr, who died back in April at age 43.

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