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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Too $hort's Landmark Release "Life Is....Too $hort"

Posted by Billyjam, April 29, 2014 02:45pm | Post a Comment
In true battle rap tradition the cover of Too $hort's classic late eighties album Life Is…Too $hort shows the Oakland rapper, in a now iconic photo by Oakland photographer Victor Hall, triumphantly posing over the headstone of one of his fictitious fallen rap rivals "Sucker MC John Doe" who was "Born on Stage" and "Died on Wax. Rest In Peace."   The ten track album was originally released 26 years ago and, of the close to twenty albums that the prolific, pioneering Oakland rapper born (in LA) Todd Shaw has put out over an illustrious career that dates back to the early eighties and continues up to this day, Life Is...Too Short (along with Born To Mack), remains among the most popular Too $hort albums with diehard fans who identify with the artist's notorious player/mack persona.

Released in January 1988 when he was already "Eight years on the mic and I'm not joking. Sir Too Short coming straight from Oakland," Life Is...Too Short was the rapper's fifth album and his second for Jive Records - co-released and first released via the East Bay indie Dangerous Music. Over rumbling bass-lines and predominantly slowed down BPM booming tracks, mostly produced by Al Eaton at his now legendary East Bay One Little Indian Studios, Life is..... offered up plenty of $hort Dog's trademark "nasty raps" to satisfy fans of his Richard Pryor-meets-Blowfly inspired sexually explicit rhymes  that were personified by the previous album's (Born To Mack) underground hit "Freaky Tales."  $hort continued that theme on such tracks as "Pimp Tha Hoe,"  the sexually charged "Don't Fight The Feeling" (that, along with the Dangerous Crew compilation - also via Dangerous Music - introduced the rap world to a pre "Players Club" Rappin' 4-Tay), and the self-explanatory "Cuss Words" which, not surprisingly, offered a non-stop barrage of cuss word  tales of naughty nastiness that began with $hort rapping, "To all you bitches, hoes, and all that shit. Here's another rap that I'm ready to spit. It goes like this, my name is $hort. I'm tearin shit up like never before Pimp slaps, makin snaps. Cold cash money and Too $hort raps." The song, which shocked parent groups at the time, went on to include $hort threatening to "fuck your wife" with the "your" being anyone who crossed his path.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Hip-Hop Power Duo EPMD's 1988 Debut Album "Strictly Business"

Posted by Billyjam, April 15, 2014 12:34pm | Post a Comment
In hip-hop history 1988 was a pretty darn incredible year for landmark releases. Like 1987 it was another landmark time in the development of the genre - an era when hip-hop had shifted from its old-school second phase and had arrived into its new so-called "golden era" that would last through to 1992/1993.  A hip-hop group and album that personified this perfectly was and the power duo of EPMD and their flawless debut album Strictly Business.

Released in August of 1988 on Sleeping Bag Records Strictly Business (not to be confused with the 1991 movie of the same name with an LL Cool J song of the same name on its soundtrack) was the debut album from infamous New York hip-hop duo EPMD whose name stands for  "Erick and Parrish Making Dollars" and who are comprised of the emcee/production power pair of Erick Sermon and Parish Smith (aka PMD).  The album was reissued last year as Strictly Business 25th Year Anniversary Edition CD with five bonus tracks.

Although only ten songs in length the hip-hop styles displayed on Strictly Business - cool laid back rhymes over smooth funky beats that sampled an infectious blend of funk, soul, and rock - remain influential to this day and personify the creme de la creme of hip-hop's much celebrated "golden age" - something that EPMD kept going on their second album, Unfinished Business, the following year as well as on later releases (all in the "Business" titled series). Unlike albums of today, which tend to be smothered in guest emcees and producers, with the exception of DJ K La Boss (who added his turntablist skills to album track that bore his name), Strictly Business was purely the talents of Erick and Parish who both rapped in a similarly almost lazy-sounding, rolling, lyrical flow.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: The Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique, 25 Years Later

Posted by Billyjam, April 1, 2014 09:25am | Post a Comment
beastie boys paul's boutiqueHard to believe that it is already a quarter of a century since the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique was initially released, and five years since the 2009 20th anniversary deluxe reissue of that landmark second Beastie Boys album. Paul's Boutique, while widely considered the group's greatest recording, was initially considered a (commercial) flop by its label, Capitol Records, back in '89 cut to its lackluster sales in comparison to its predecessor. In fact so disappointing to Capitol were sales that, following a huge initial hype / marketing campaign, they completely stopped promoting the album. Many rap fans, drawn to group by the hits on their Rick Rubin produced 1986 Def Jam debut mega-hit album Licensed To Ill, were disappointed too. But true hip-hop fans saw/heard the brilliance of Paul's Boutique that was a distinct departure from Licensed To Ill.

Instead of Rick Rubin handling production on this sophomore release, which demanded repeated listens to fully appreciate its depth and brilliant nuances, was produced in good part by the Dust Brothers and recorded in both Los Angeles and Brooklyn over an extended period of time to ensure it came out just right and to the liking of members Michael "Mike D" Diamond, Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz, and the late Adam "MCA" Yauch.  It did, and sure while it may not have been as commercially successful as Licensed To Ill (still a great album too) Paul's Boutique was a far greater quality recording and one that truly stands the test of time as proven by such tracks as "High Plains Drifter," "Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun," "Car Thief," "Shadrach," and "Get On The Mic." No wonder then that over the years it grew in popularity (and sales),  is regularly included high up on music lists' best albums of all time, and was reissued on its 20th anniversary.
 
Re-released five years ago to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of its initial 1989 release, the 2009 reissue of the LP reissue version was on 180 gram vinyl, in a nice two-sided, four-panel gate-fold sleeve - that revised the very original expensive gatefold pressing of the album. The 2009 reissue also included a digital download card to access bonus audio band commentary on the album that was so close to the Beasties' hearts. For instance the track "59 Chrystie Street" was titled in reference to an early residence of the Beastie Boys, back earlier in the 80's when they were young punk rockers about to morph into full time hip-hoppers.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: With Help from World's Famous Supreme Team & Others, Malcolm McLaren Created A Hip-Hop Classic

Posted by Billyjam, March 18, 2014 08:00am | Post a Comment

    


A true sign of any album qualifying as a classic in its respective genre is when, even 31 years after its initial malcolm mclarenrelease, it still packs the same punch it did upon first listen. Such is most definitely the case with Malcolm McLaren's hip-hop and world music 43:36 minute classic album Duck Rock that was originally released in January 1983 on Island Records in the US and on Charisma in the UK. Presenting divergent styles of music from round the globe, most notably hip-hop and African and all interspersed with NYC hip-hop radio show snippets from the World's Famous Supreme Team radio show,  Duck Rock featured such timeless hits as "Buffalo Gals" and "Double Dutch." And while British impresario Malcolm McLaren, who was perhaps best known then and now as the former manager of the Sex Pistols, is credited as the album's creator or main artist, that was not technically the case. The maverick McLaren was really more of a hands-on executive producer with a knack for unearthing new trends long before they broke and repackaging them for public consumption. And for this intuitive gift McLaren, who died four years ago, has been praised for discovering new artists/genres while alternately been criticized for exploitation. McLaren has also (rightfully) been accused of routinely giving himself more much credit than he may have deserved. In the case of Duck Rock he is listed as the artist on the record while there are numerous artists on there - with McLaren, who sings and kind of raps throughout Duck Rock (like when he does the talkover in "Double Dutch"), being just one contributing artist. McLaren is also credited as "producer" along with (post Buggles / pre The Art of Noise) Trevor Horn who actually did the majority of the music production; perfectly melding together divergent styles and sounds that included South American, Caribbean, and down home Americana roots. Thomas Dolby was also a musical contributor.

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Hip-Hop Rap-Up, Week End 03.14.14: Top 5 Chart, The Grouch & Eligh, Rick Ross, Army of the Pharoahs, Potluck

Posted by Billyjam, March 14, 2014 08:03am | Post a Comment

Rick Ross "Nobody (Explicit) feat. French Montana, Puff Daddy)" (2014)


Amoeba Music Hollywood Hip-Hop Top Five: Week Ending 03:14:14


1) Rick Ross Mastermind (Maybach / Def Jam)

2) ScHoolboy Q Oxymoron (Interscope)

3) The Grouch & Eligh The Tortoise & The Crow (Empire)
 
4) Kendrick Lamar good kid, m.A.A.d city (Aftermath)
 
5) Childish Gambino Because the Internet (Glassnote)

Just as last week's number one on the Amoeba Hip-Hop Chart (ScHoolboy Q's Oxymoron) reflected last week’s number one Billboard pop album chart entry so too does this week's number one at Amoeba: Rick Ross’ brand new Mastermind is also the number one seller in the country as per the Billboard Top 200 charts making it Ross’ fifth album to debut at No. 1 nationally. The album features the lead singles "War Ready," "The Devil is a Lie (feat. Jay-Z)," and "Nobody (feat. Diddy and French Montana)" or Puff Daddy as he is ID'ed in the Vevo video version of the single above. The video for the song, which is a homage to Biggie, finds Ross recreated the drive-by shooting attempt on his life a year ago.  Other releases on the latest chart include the recurrent entries from Kendrick Lamar (good kid, m.A.A.d city) and Childish Gambino (Because the Internet).

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