Amoeblog

Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Revisiting Short Lived 1990's Slammin' Rap Video Magazine

Posted by Billyjam, December 23, 2014 11:52am | Post a Comment

24 long hip-hop years ago, way back in the year of 1990 (a time before the Internet with its instant access to everything) there were relatively few ways to hear rap news and new hip-hop music. Back then there was  Source magazine and a few other hip-hop print publications such as RapMasters or the UK published Hip Hop Connection monthly mag. Compared to nowadays when a news item can be published worldwide within seconds of it taking place, things sure moved slowly back in 1990. In that bygone print age, the turnaround from when a national monthly's contents were written and photographed and ready for publication then finally hit the newsstands was typically a two month period. That rendered much of the "news"  old by the time it was read - although rap fans back then didn't seem to care. Besides, they had few options to get their hip-hop fix.

A little more timely back at the beginning of the '90s were the weekly rap radio shows around the country, aircheck cassette tapes of which were often dubbed and re-dubbed and shared. Then there were the select weekly or monthly rap video shows on TV that ranged from small regional ones playing national rap music videos and showcasing local talent to the big national Yo! MTV Raps, which was then two years strong and a lifeline of hip-hop music and news to those in areas outside of big cities.

In addition to these media outlets was the novel hip-hop video magazine,  Slammin' Rap Video Magazine, which was a one-hour VHS videocassette tape published by BMG that retailed for $12.98. Often billing itself as material you would "not seen on MTV," the one-hour video production was hosted by Alex Winter (actor then famous for his role alongside a young Keanu Reeves in 1989's silly-but-fun comedy Sci-Fi Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure). Slammin' was an ambitious, well-executed production that presented engaging artist interviews and showed music clips with the best hip-hop acts of the day. The premiere Vol. 1 1990 edition (see below in full) included KRS-One, MC Hammer, Queen Latifah, Tone-Loc, Special Ed, Public Enemy's Chuck D, Ice-T and his extended Rhyme Syndicate crew that included a young pre House of Pain Everlast, Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock, Lakim Shabazz, Salt 'N' Pepa, Kid 'N' Play, and Roxanne Shanté among others. That's a pretty darn impressive line-up for a video magazine! But for whatever reason, the shortlived Slammin' video magazine series never took off in a huge way and only lasted for a handful of editions produced and published between 1990 and 1991. Along with Vol. 1 you can also see in full Vol. 3 of Slammin', which starred such hip-hop artists as LL Cool J, Too $hort, Schoolly D, Eric B & Rakim, D-Nice, and  Big Daddy Kane below. Both are really entertaining and educational in my opinion. And look in the used VHS bins at Amoeba for the occasional copy of the Slammin' video magazine series that shows up from time to time.

Continue reading...

Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: June 1990 Billboard Hot Rap Singles Top 30 Chart

Posted by Billyjam, November 18, 2014 10:50am | Post a Comment


In the 24 years since the first publication of the Billboard Hot Rap Singles Top 30 Chart, rap/hip-hop has grown by leaps and bounds in both terms of widespread acceptance and (seemingly) unstoppable global popularity. Upon publication back in mid-June of 1990, while popular enough to deem its own weekly chart, hip-hop was still somewhat marginalized and was far from the mainstream cultural force it is today. However, while examining the contrast between radio/sales charting hip-hop in 1990 and 2014, there are many notable differences. For starters, hip-hop was still largely labeled or referred to as "rap" back then, which is somewhat ironic since popular "hip-hop" today is technically more "rap" than it was back at the beginning of the nineties.

From eyeballing this June 1990 chart that was compiled from a national sample of both retail and one-stop sales, it's evident that commercially popular hip-hop appeared to be a lot more adventurous and much more diverse in style both production-wise and lyrically. Also notable is how major labels did not dominate the bulk of rap sales. It was pretty much evenly split between indies and majors, although many of those same independent labels would in time make deals with the majors. Another notable business factor was that record labels (indie or major) could still be very profitable ventures since 1990 was a time when people still bought records and tapes to hear music. There was no illegal free downloading/file-sharing of music and the only threat to labels was illegally dubbed bootleg cassette copies of their releases. Hence labels had more money to spend on promotions of their artists.



Women hip-hop artists, whom to this day have never gained equality in their genre, were still in the minority back in June 1990 with only five out of this top 30 chart being female acts. These five included three groups - something much rarer today when female rappers tend to be solo acts - and included Hammer proteges Oaktown's 3-5-7, Def Dames (whose "Set It Off" heavily sampled Strafe's 1984 club/radio hit of the same name and who should not be confused with the Euro girl group who came a little later), and early career Jermaine Dupri-discovered rap/r&b trio Silk Tymes Leather. The other female chart entries were Icey Jaye ("It's A Girl Thing"), and Queen Latifah in a duet with David Bowie for "Fame 90."

Continue reading...

Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: September 1996 In The Wake of 2Pac's Murder

Posted by Billyjam, October 21, 2014 07:00am | Post a Comment
For this week's Hip-Hop History Tuesdays Amoeblog I rewind the clock back eighteen full years to September 1996 and to the hip-hop news related to 2Pac that I was reporting on at the time via various media outlets. The shooting death of Tupac Shakur was the big story of that year.  The shooting death of 2Pac, who died in September of 1996, had a major impact on many people and often - oddly enough - in a positive way. At the time I reported on how 2Pac's death sparked discussion and unity among California inmates interviewing the then incarcerated Oakland rapper Pooh-Man (aka MC Pooh). "I've never seen anything quite like it before.  It brought every culture in here closer together; blacks, whites, and Mexicans.  Everyone was  touched by his death," Poohman told me at the time speaking by phone from San Quentin two days following the  Sept 13th news of 2Pac's death.  "I'm in a dorm with two hundred muthafuckas who is always talkin' and hollerin' but now whenever 2Pac's song comes on the radio everybody gets silent.  He meant a hell of a lot to everyone.  He was the voice of a generation.  He was speaking for all of us," said Poohman, "Right after his death a lot of the blacks got together in circles and talked about it and rapped the words to his songs," he said.  In fact at that time Poohman and fellow inmate, Oakland rapper Beehive, even went so far as to write a rap song in honor the slain rapper entitled, "We Still Feel Your Presence."

Continue reading...

Lost 1995 Cougnut Interview: 13th Annual Cougnut Memorial Concert Tonight in SF

Posted by Billyjam, September 13, 2014 11:45am | Post a Comment

      

In honor of the legacy of San Francisco rap legend Cougnut and just in time for tonight's (Sept 13, 2014) heartfelt 13th anniversary memorial concert at Brick & Mortar Music Hall - with Baldhead Rick, Shag Nasty, TCEquipto, Michael Marshall, Cellski, Black C, and more -  today I uncovered a radio interview I conducted with the late, great SF rapper 19 years ago. It aired back on November 18, 1995 on several pirate stations I was on when the beloved hip-hop artist, who died on September 4, 2001 in a car crash while returning from a fishing trip, was readying for the then-upcoming release of I.M.P.'s Ill Mannered Playas, which would be released in early 1996 on In-A-Minute Records.

In the interview, Cougnut talks about such things as the production and guests on the 13 track album focusing on tracks such as "Shinin' Star" (one of a few he personally produced on that LP) and the ever-engaging album track "Public Execution," which he relayed was the "story of when I was locked down and my celly who is never getting out....He's on life with no parole....on death row in San Quentin" and the life story that person shared with Cougnut while they were incarcerated together. He also talks about UNLV who contribute to several of the album's tracks including "The Bay Way," the song that Cougnut stressed that he really wanted people to listen to out of all the ones featuring UNLV on that 1996 I.M.P. album. Coincidentally, UNLV's Baldhead Rick is the person presenting tonight's highly recommended show at Brick & Mortar at 1710 Mission Street in San Francisco. Saturday, September 13th. 9pm show. 18+ $10 More info.
 

2014 DMC US Finals Winners: Proof That Prep For Prestigious Battle Starts At Young Age

Posted by Billyjam, August 26, 2014 01:00pm | Post a Comment

2014 DMC US Champions Top 5 (Showcase style: six minutes each DJ)
 

1st: DJ I-Dee (Fairfax VA)

2nd: DJ Dwells (NYC)

3rd: DJ Ease (Rochester NY)
(aka
 International Ease)

4th: DJ Esquire (Brooklyn NY)

5th: Ichy the Killer (San Jose CA)

DJs I-Dee and Dwells - the winner and runner-up respectively in this year's heated 2014 DMC US Finals DJ battle presented by Rane, that took place Saturday night at Webster Hall in New York City - are both examples that battle DJing is something that many get into at an increasingly younger age. They're also proof that the DMC is indeed as it claims to be the "most prestigious" and important competition for DJs out of the many other battles over the years - since it's the DMC that these two (like most DJs) strive towards winning, and that each have meticulously studied videos of past DMC competitions for inspiration in bettering their skills in preparing for battle. "When I first started DJing seventeen years ago, when I was ten, I picked up a whole bunch of DMC tapes," said the new US DMC battle champ DJ I-Dee in his acceptance speech for the title that will take him to the UK in October for the 2014 DMC World Championships. "My goal was accomplished ten years ago when I made the [DMC] US Finals. And everything after that has been a complete bonus," added the Fairfax VA DJ [seen in above pic c/o Arvee Eco Photography who supplied most of the photos for this review - others c/o Christie Z-Pabon of DMC/Tools of War].

Continue reading...
BACK  <<  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  >>  NEXT