Amoeblog

"It's the MOST... Blackhistorymonthy tiiime of the yeeear...!"

Posted by Job O Brother, January 31, 2010 10:45am | Post a Comment
bessie smithbeyonce

I know what you’re thinking: How can it be that it’s Black History Month again, already? It seems to come up faster with each passing year. No sooner do I finish cleaning up all the gift wrap and decorations from 2009’s BHM festivities when – BAM! – time to break ‘em out again for 2010.

But I am excited! I love draping my house in the traditional BHM crushed-velvet flour sacks, heated bear skins, and twinkling, sapphire, mailboxes. We gather together around the hot oil printing press and sing BHM carols, get tipsy on Pancake-Sausage Nog, and remind each other, with love in our hearts, not to forget to turn off the air conditioner before leaving the house. Oh, joy! Oh sweet, unmitigated joy!

Of all these rituals, my favorite is the singing of the carols. I thought I’d share some of them with you, and invite you to sing along with me! Just click on a song below and belt one out. If you’re at work, or reading this on your iPhone while standing in the check-out line at Trader Joe’s, or simultaneously looking at Internet porn (way to multi-task!) – no matter! Sing all the louder! Let everyone know: You’re Black and You’re Proud!

Black Cinema Part I -- Race Movies - The Silent Era

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 31, 2010 10:11am | Post a Comment
This is the first installment in a three part history of early Black Cinema.
To read Part II, covering the Hollywood Studio years of the 1930s and '40s, click here
To read Part III, covering the TV Age of the 1950s and '60s, click here



Lincoln Motion Picture Company
The Lincoln Motion Picture Company

In most American silent films, minorities were generally played by white actors in make-up. When actual minorities were cast, roles were generally limited. Latinos in silent films usually played greasers and bandits; Asian-Americans played waiters, tongs and laundrymen; and blacks usually played bellboys, stable hands, maids or simple buffoons. Early film depictions of black characters were highly offensive, including those in the films Nigger in the Woodpile, Rastus, Sambo and The Wooing and Wedding of a Coon. Not surprisingly, both Asian-Americans and blacks responded by launching their own alternative cinemas. But whilst Asian-American Silent Cinema quickly faltered, black cinema (blessed with a much larger audience) flourished and soon many so-called race movies were being made by both black and white filmmakers for black filmgoers.

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Sam Cooke - Sittin In the Sun

Posted by Miss Ess, January 31, 2010 09:59am | Post a Comment
I don't know if you caught the American Masters show on PBS the other night about Sam Cooke, but it was great.

sam cooke

Sam Cooke is, of course, an American Master, but he was also a man of the people. He charmed sam cookeeveryone he met, was a brilliant song writer and the first African American to own his own record label. He started his career in gospel and realized that if he wanted to advance himself and take better care of his family (see footage below), he needed to move out into the world of pop. With his careful cover choices and his well-honed genius for writing about topics that appealed to a mass audience, he became one of the first black entertainers to crossover and garner a huge number of white fans.

Playing segregated halls (eventually refusing to) and enduring despicable treatment in the South throughout the late 50s and early 60s, Cooke realized he was in a position as a popular artist to say something about what was going on in America. He covered Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" regularly, but also was inspired to write his own anthem for the movement, "A Change Is Gonna Come," to this day one of the most affecting songs ever to grace the airwaves.

Cooke was, beyond everything else, a self-made man, one who bowed to no one and who crossed boundaries no one thought possible at the time. He gained the respect of the people with his integrity, enthusiasm and smarts. Like many talented artists, his life was cut short early and tragically, at a hotel in Los Angeles in December 1964 when he was shot to death at the age of 33.

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HIP-HOP HISTORY: TOP 30 RAP SINGLES CHART, FEB/MAR 1993

Posted by Billyjam, January 30, 2010 08:00pm | Post a Comment
Black Moon
The following Top 30 Hip-Hop Singles chart from February/March 1993, which was originally compiled and published by long defunct East Coast hip-hop zine One Nut Network, was put together based on rap singles' airplay on both college hip-hop radio shows and commercial radio mix shows at the time. The time was early 1993, considered by most as the tail end of hip-hop's much celebrated and oft lamented so-called "golden age" or "golden era," when, it seemed, every new hip-hop release was a noteworthy (and worth owning) release. And while that belief may not be 100% correct, it is, as the following chart indicates, pretty darn close to the truth.

By just eye-balling the 30 singles on the Feb/March 1993 chart below, many of which, including Black Moon, Dr Dre, Young Black Teenagers, and Ice Cube, got released towards the end of 1992 but still had airplay into the first quarter of 1993, you can tell a lot about the status of hip-hop at the time and where it stood in its historical development. For example, many of the acts most associated with the aforementioned "golden age" of hip-hop were represented here, including Kool G Rap ("Ill Street Blues"), Gang Starr ["Gotta Get Over (Taking Loot)"], Brand Nubian ("Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down"), Diamond D ("Sally Got A One Track Mind"), Naughty By Nature ("Hip Hop Hooray"), and Lords of the Underground ("Funky Child") -- each of which happened to be East Coast (NY or NJ) acts.

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GRAMMY NOMINATED BAY AREA ARTIST JOHN SANTOS INTERVIEW

Posted by Billyjam, January 30, 2010 07:39pm | Post a Comment

Among the many artists up for a Grammy this year is longtime Bay Area Latin jazz musician John Santos, whose 2009 anti-war themed album La Guerra No (Machete Records) is nominated under the the Best Traditional World Music category. This is actually not the first time in his career that the Afro-Latin percussionist has been nominated for such an award, but if he wins, it will be the first time he will have won.

Santos is also an in demand music lecturer on the college circuit, and like the seasoned musician and music industry veteran he is, he takes it all in stride, with a sense of realism and a wait-and-see attitude. Should the Grammy be granted to him this weekend, it will be something he'll share the glory of with the (literally) dozens of other artists from various other countries who collaborated and contributed to this powerful album that took a five year period to record and produce.

Earlier today I caught up the busy artist to ask him about his career to date, what went into the making of La Guerra No, and whether or not he will be heading down to LA for Sunday night's big event, the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards.

Amoeblog: How many times have you been nominated for a Grammy?

John Santos: This is the fifth time.

Amoeblog: And how does it feel to be nominated?

John Santos: It's an honor.

Amoeblog: For those who may not be aware of your prolific body of work, can you briefly run down your rich musical history?

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