My top 50 alternative songs of 1991...Can You Dig It?

Posted by Brad Schelden, August 21, 2020 01:30pm | Post a Comment

Top 50 Alternative Songs of 1991...Part I #41-50

I am counting down my top 50 favorite alternative songs of the 90s!. I just finished up 1990. So in case you missed that last entry you can find it here. I am now moving on to 1991. This is part one of five parts for 1991. I am starting with #50. Come join me as I relive the greatest decade in alternative music.

#50 Northside "Take 5" (Factory)

What a fun band that only lasted for one album back in 1991! Chicken Rhythms was produced by my favorite Ian Broudie of Lightning Seeds fame. So it was not too surprising I would like this song. I never really knew much about this band or this song but it takes me right back to 1991. It is fun to go back and research some of these bands that I knew so little about way back in the early 90s. They are of course from Manchester. So many of my favorite bands at the time were coming out of Manchester. It was super important for me to visit when I went to England a couple of years ago. Think of Northside as a less serious Stone Roses. A more fun Charlatans. A Super catchy radio friendly song. A song that I was destined to love. And I still can listen to it all these years later.

Pioneering SF Rap Curator / Street Activist Herm Lewis's Impactful & Influential Career

Posted by Billyjam, August 20, 2020 06:16pm | Post a Comment

Back in August of 1993 an unknown individual in the NorCal rap/hip-hop scene named Herm Lewis quietly began his game changing journey. This the Hunters Point resident, not long released from incarceration, did with the release of the pioneering San Francisco rap compilation Herm: Trying to Survive In The Ghetto. Herm may have had a limited budget and zero experience in the music business but the former inmate-turned-street-activist was fueled by an unstoppable inner determination to see his vision through. That vision was to put together a compilation of hardcore street rap artists from different neighborhoods of San Francisco (traditionally at odds with one another) and to also include  recordings of himself giving his now trademark uplifting heartfelt speeches encouraging peace and unity. As a sort of test-run Herm originally appeared with a positive spoken-word message on the intro track to RBL Posse's late 1992 released debut album, A Lesson To be Learned.

Then later with help in the studio from RBL producer TC, Herm laid down his various artists album tracks which were bookended by Lewis' positive powerful spoken word messages. Meanwhile the compilation featured such hometown artists / associates of Herm's as RBL Posse, I.M.P., JT Tha Bigga Figga, Rappin' 4-Tay, Cold World Hustlers, G.R.P., Young Cellski (aka 2Took), and Fly Nate  Next step he pressed up 3000 copies of the then unique compilation that, throughout the rest of 1993 and into the following year, would slowly but steadily build momentum and blow up sales-wise.

Top Ten 2020 Black Lives Matter Protest Songs: Video Version Countdown

Posted by Billyjam, August 19, 2020 07:41pm | Post a Comment

The following Top Ten 2020 Black Lives Matter Protest Songs / video version countdown list is comprised of all new hip-hop songs that were recorded in the days and weeks following May 25th. That infamous Memorial Day 2020 marks the now historic date on which Minnesota resident George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police. Both the official medical examiner's report and an independent autopsy each ruled Floyd’s death from asphyxiation to be a homicide. That homicide, captured on viral video, would reignite as never before Black Lives Matter (BLM); the movement founded in 2013 following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin from the previous year. 

The majority of the videos below were made by the artists as official music videos while a few, such as the Jim Jones one, were fan made videos to accompany the audio only versions. Many of the 2020 BLM songs in the countdown below reference Trayvon Martin along with such other recent era African American fatal victims of racist brutality as Ahmaud Abery, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Oscar Grant and of course George Floyd.  Before introducing the first song/video in the countdown a special mention of a couple of worthy songs not included here due to having no accompanying video versions; "Freedom" by Che Noir & Apollo Brown from As God Intended and "Mother's Milk" by staHHr & Crazy DJ Bazarro

Hip-Hop News: 2 Charged in Jam Master Jay Murder, RZA’s Ice Cream Truck Jingle, Upcoming RTJ & Future Vinyl LPs + more

Posted by Billyjam, August 17, 2020 07:16pm | Post a Comment

Almost a full two decades later, in what frustratingly appeared to have become yet another unsolved murder mystery case, the killers of hip-hop legend Jam Master Jay of Run-D.M.C. have been finally brought to justice. Earlier today the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York announced that both Karl Jordan Jr. and Ronald Washington had been indicted as conspirators in the October 2002 fatal shooting of the [then 37 year old] pioneering hip-hop artist born Jason Mizell inside his Jamaica, Queens NY recording studio. 

While today’s announcement may be welcome news to hip-hop music fans and admirers of the early era turntablist it is also bittersweet. That’s because the indictment also alleges that Mizell was not some victimless bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time but, according to the US Attorney’s statement, that the artist had been personally involved in transporting kilogram-quantities of cocaine since the mid nineties. Stay tuned for more details on this case that, you can bet money, will become yet another drug-themed Netflix series based on true events.

RZA on Recording Replacement Ice Cream Truck Jingle (August 2020)

Producer L’Orange Discusses his and emcee Solemn Brigham’s Excellent New “Marlowe 2”

Posted by Billyjam, August 14, 2020 11:59pm | Post a Comment
Marlowe Marlowe 2 (Mellow Music Group)

Two years ago when producer  L’Orange and emcee Solemn Brigham collaborated on the Marlowe album released via Mello Music it was one of those projects made purely for fun and out of a shared love of hip-hop. The two old school pals from North Carolina were just happy to have reconnectedand to be working together especially since L’Orange had moved all the way across the country to resettle in Seattle. They figured it was a one-off collaboration. They never imagined that there would be a follow up Marlowe 2 that was among the new arrivals at Amoeba today. Besides the hard-working producer, when not busy making his own solo albums, has a track record of collaborating with a variety of different emcees and usually only on one project. The microphone fiends L’Orange has joined 
forces with over his prolific decade long career have included Mr Lif, Kool KeithJeremiah Jae and Stik Figga on album projects and such others as Del The Funky HomosapienBlu, Elzhi and  Chuuwee on 
song collaborations. In fact it was on the track “Plastic Fame” off L’Orange’s predominantly instrumental 2017 solo album The Ordinary Man, that featured both Sacramento rapper Chuuwee and Solemn Brigham, that inspired the two to discuss maybe making a full album together. This they did and a year later released the presumed one-off album Marlowe.
“We never expected Marlowe 1 to be successful. We just made it because we were friends and loved working together. When it came out and it resonated with people, that was a bonus,” recalled L’Orange in an interview with the Amoeblog earlier today. That first Marlowe album was so good that this Amoeblogger picked it as the #1 hip-hop album of 2018. At the time I wrote how L’Orange created an intricate and vivid, atypical found sound, cinematic soundscape with tempo shifting beats that acted as the ideal backdrop for Solemn Brigham’s unique flow. Their combined sound I wrote was simultaneously familiar sounding (in an early 90's golden era tradition) but also distinctively modern and quite unlike anything else ever heard in hip-hop. And guess what? Marlowe 2 is an even better album with the two artists outdoing themselves by crafting a flawless cohesive 18 track, 46 minute album that captures that distinctive Marlowe sound first  introduced two years ago.  

Perfectly complimenting Solemn Brigham’s distinctive flow, L’Orange lays down layers of engaging sounds that make Marlowe 2 like the aural equivalent of a book you can’t put down. Intact are the producer’strademark old timey radio detective dramas as favored found sound source plus a myriad of unique instrumental sources, including old school Bollywood sounding parts and soaring guitars and string instruments. This all acts as the perfect backdrop for Solemn Brigham to let loose on while flexing his instantly recognizable rapid fire flow that’s further accentuated with the emcee occasionally breaking into his unique sing-songey rhyme style. On paper all of these disparate sounds seem like they should not work together. But they do by effortlessly all melding together into a beautiful collage of interwoven sounds.

Today when I connected with L’Orange I asked him about the comparisons of making this album versus the first one? “Marlowe 2 was a much more refined process, knowing what we had done and where we wanted to improve. We fought like brothers and ended up collaborating in the truest sense,” he said. And what about the process of recording Marlowe 2; if they recorded their parts separately and if the L’Orange production was done first or together?  “Solemn comes to Seattle to record with myself and Sendai Mike. We usually write separately though,” replied L’Orange.

 And what about origins of all those unique old-school world music samples and other engaging musical sounds heard on the new album? “One thing that defines Marlowe production to me is the combination of psychedelic rock and international influences. There’s lots of 60’s Asian and African influences on both records.”

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