Oakland Rapper Askari X

Posted by Billyjam, February 10, 2011 03:10pm | Post a Comment
 Askari X
For this installment in the 2011 Amoeblog's Black History Month series I wish to focus on the super-talented, politically-charged, Afrocentric Oakland rapper born Rickey Murdock, who went by the stage name of Askari X and was also known by a Muslim name related to the East Oakland Muslim group that he was associated with: Ansar El Muhammed S/C. Currently not musically active, this powerful lyricist and gifted emcee should have, I firmly believe, achieved a much higher level of success in his hip-hop career than he did. He didn't due to several factors, one being that the content of his lyrics was often way too revolutionary & militantly pro-Black / anti-White, so he alienated a good segment of his potential audience.

More notably, his career got stalled due to the fact that he has been incarcerated for a great deal of his teenage and adult life. The artist, whose last album, The Return Of Askari X (a.k.a Rickey Murdock), was released in 2000 by Success Entertainment, is currently in Folsom State Prison, where he has been for the past two plus years. I attempted a few times over the past year, via letter, to reach him in Folsom for the Amoeblog to get some words from him directly but heard nothing back from him, unfortunately. However, I have previously interviewed him on a few occasions over the years. One time was back in the mid nineties when he had just released his second album, Message To The Black Man on Slow Motion Records.

Askari X "Ward Of the State" (1992)

On the title track of that 1995 album he offered up such attention-grabbing, incendiary lyrics as "Message to the Black man in America: Africa’s calling, come home...Asiatic Black man you are God from birth, made up of all the 99 elements of this planet earth. God of the universe, older than the sun, moon, and stars from the holy tribe of Shabazz." At the time, he told me, "The goal of this song and the album is to put out the teachings of the glorious, most honorable founder of the nation of Islam." His previous 1992 debut album, Ward Of The State on Righteous Records, was written while he locked up as a teen and associated with the RBG (Righteous Black Guerillas) crew. 

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Like Thunder, Lightnin', So Catchy It's Frightenin': Amii Stewart's "Knock on Wood"

Posted by Kells, February 9, 2011 06:07pm | Post a Comment

In the vein of my last post, here's a different trippy take on another beloved classic hit: Amii Stewart's deep-dish disco serving of Eddie Floyd's "Knock on Wood." Initially, I bought this record more so for the glamorama of cover art than the actual musical content, but I have since developed a sort of terminal enchantment with the overall calorie-off, aerobic aesthetic repeat listening presents.

Girl is wearin' me out with this video, check it out!

Richard Pryor’s Forgotten Masterpiece—Moving

Posted by Chuck, February 8, 2011 02:00pm | Post a Comment

I’ve always thought the best comedy ever conceived was Moving, starring Richard Pryor. Actually, that’s a bit of an exaggeration—“ever” goes back further than 1988. But, you know, without getting snagged up on the front end of eternity, I will add that Moving is also the most underrated comedy and could have been a cult classic on par with Dazed and Confused or Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space had the film come out on DVD sooner than 2006 as a sort of b-side throw-in with Greased Lightning. Twenty-one years after its theatrical release, it’s still excruciating, smart, subtle and funny. I think this way because of Dana Carvey’s schizoid character(s), and Randy Quaid's playing the ex-con Crawford brothers/neighbors, Edward and Perry and King Kong Bundy from Hummingbird Movers, and Morris Day . . . eh, I could go on. But mostly because of Pryor’s character Arlo Pear, whose life spirals out of control when he’s fired from his suburban job as a mass transit engineer in New Jersey and is forced to move to the more remote suburbs of Boise “fucking” Idaho.

Hilarity ensues. The best line is a throwaway, when the movers are idly driving around Boise with all of the earthly Pear’s belongings, and Pryor’s Arlo drives up beside them in his ruined Saab dressed like Rambo and tells them to pull over. “Hey, it’s that Arlo Pear man,” says the driver. “What? Ah man, forget about him,” says the other with complete disregard. This makes no sense on so many levels it will never get old.

The movie is made all the better because it’s so unheralded. The many people I’ve talked to who know it (at least half a dozen) either like it as much as me (which is compulsively), or at least like it very much (in which case I tell them to watch it again). Come on, there’s some real irony to the notoriously foul-mouthed Pryor having a “swear jar” for his family to pay into, a quarter for every slip. And you’d have no indication from watching movie the fiction-like qualities of Pryor’s real life.

Who's Zoomin' Who? It's Aretha's "What A Fool Believes"

Posted by Kells, February 4, 2011 10:33am | Post a Comment
I woke up with this song stuck in my head again this morning and so, accordingly, I attempt to exercise it here. Aretha Franklin's cover of Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald's classic yacht-rocker made popular by the Doobie Brothers is a manic slice of synth-indulgence that's, like many an Aretha song, dead catchy. Beware. Just give it thirty seconds of warming up and you'll be in the zone, the smoooooth R&B zone.

Aretha Franklin - "What A Fool Believes"

The Rise and Fall of Afrocentric Rap as the Predominant Movement Within Hip-Hop

Posted by Billyjam, February 4, 2011 08:07am | Post a Comment
I miss and often think about Afrocentric rap and wonder why it didn't last longer as the prevalent form of popular rap. I also often wonder why it got overshadowed and forever overtaken by gangsta rap as the most popular and predominant form of hip-hop music. So this Black History Month's Amoeblog is dedicated to the memory of Afrocentric rap as a once powerful movement within hip-hop; a salute to its greatness and a brief examination of its rise and fall as the one-time leading sub-genre of hip-hop.

Afrocentric rap, which can also be tagged as conscious rap, socially conscious rap, political rap, Black nationalist rap, militant rap, revolution rap, etc., was at its peak and was most widely consumed & embraced by the masses during the golden age of hip-hop in the late 80's to early 90's. However, Afrocentric rap, which can be described as a lyrical form that proudly celebrates the accomplishments of the Black community, past & present, in addition to voicing complaints, concerns, and/or social observations of the African American community from a firsthand perspective, has always been part and parcel of hip-hop.

Early popular examples would include 1982's "The Message" single on Sugar Hill by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five feat. Melle Mel & Duke Bootee, while current day examples include the soon-to-drop 2011 album track "Clap" by Brooklyn emcee Saigon off his Feb 15th release The Greatest Story Never Told (Suburban Noize). Afrocentric rap has been with us from day one and will never go away. However, it may never return to the popularity of its heyday, a time when it was common to see rap videos on TV espousing politically charged, pro Black imagery and messages.

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