Hip-Hop Top Five New Releases 10:20:17: Blu & Exile, Budgie, Thavius Beck, Sean Price, K-Def Presents: Gimme A Break!

Posted by Billyjam, October 21, 2017 09:13am | Post a Comment
                                                   Amoeba Music Hip-Hop Top Five 10:20:17

1: Blu & Exile In The Beginning: Before The Heavens (Dirty Science)

Ten years and a quarter years later Blu & Exile release In The Beginning: Before The Heavens: a sequelthat's technically a prequel to their landmark underground July 2007 debut Below The Heavens (also avail on vinyl/2LP set). The new October 2017 release by the super talented duo, comprised of emcee Blu and producer Exile, is 2007 material made up of both previously heard and previously unheard/unreleased material from the recording sessions that led up to their landmark debut a decade ago. Upon its release in 2007 Below The Heavens may have made little commercial impact but it did turn heads and win critical acclaim for Blu's clever, thought-provoking and uplifting conscious rhymes and Exile's hypnotically crunchy soul drenched beats. Combined the gifted pair effortlessly conjured the vibe of hip-hop's lamented bygone golden era: coming at a time when the bling era was still in swing.

Continue reading...

Hip-Hop Rap-Up, Week End 02.07.14: Step Brothers, Dag Savage, Dilla Day, Hip Hop, Chess and The Psychology of The Battle

Posted by Billyjam, February 7, 2014 08:08am | Post a Comment

Amoeba Music Hollywood Hip-Hop Top Five for Week Ending February 7th 2014

The Step Brothers Lord Steppington (Rhymesayers  Entertainment)

2) Dag Savage E&J (Dirty Science)

Blu & Exile Below The Heavens  (Sound In Color)

4) Kendrick Lamar good kid, m.A.A.d city (Aftermath)

5) Kayne West Yeezus (Def Jam)

Hip-Hop Rap-Up, Week Ending 10.28.11: Evidence, People Under The Stairs, Murs, Exile, Freestyle Fellowship & more

Posted by Billyjam, October 28, 2011 07:40am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music Hollywood Hip-Hop Top Five Week Ending 10:28:11


1) Evidence Cats & Dogs (Rhymesayers Ent.)

2) Murs Love & Rockets Vol. 1: The Transformation (DD172)

3) People Under The Stairs Highlighter (Piecelock 70)

4) Exile 4 Trk Mind (Soulspazam/Fat Beats)

5) Freestyle Fellowship The Promise (Decon)

Thanks to Ray Ricky Rivera at the Hollywood Amoeba store for this week's hip-hop top five chart which, you will notice upon closer examination, features exclusively acts from the SoCal store's surrounding area. As Rivera has told me in the past LA area customers have traditionally been highly supportive of their homegrown hip-hop talent. This week those talents include the LA producer/emcee Evidence who first came to fame as part of Dilated Peoples and who recently connected with the respected Mid West Rhymesayers Entertainment label who have released his highly recommended new  Cats & Dogs album.  LA's Murs, the Living Legends star who for a time lived in the Bay Area, is getting positive feedback all over for his latest release - a collab with Ski Beatz, Love & Rockets Vol. 1: The Transformation including down in New Orleans where, just before the album's October 11th release date, he did a unique promo for the new release on DD172 as seen in video clip below.

Continue reading...

Hip-Hop Rap Up 08:13:10: Bun B, Exile, Trek Life, Messy Marv, Jay Z, PE, Doug E Fresh, Rappin 4-Tay, 2Pac, Boots Riley + More

Posted by Billyjam, August 13, 2010 08:08am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music San Francisco Weekly Hip-Hop Top Five Chart: 08:13:10

1) Exile Am/Fm (Traffic)

2) Bun B Trill O.G. (Rap A Lot)

3) Slum Village Villa Manifesto (E1 Entertainment)

4) Trek Life Everything Changed Nothing (Mello Music)

5) Messy Marv Thizz City (SMC)

In continuing the theme of his wonderful solo release from last year, Radio, Exile delivers this week's number one album at Amoeba, the brand new AM/FM, which is actually culled from that 2009 release. By reworking and remixing elements of Radio the talented Los Angeles producer born Aleksander Manfredi, who many came to know as one half of the emcee/producer duo of Blu & Exile, has crafted a whole new twenty one track album. In fact some of the tracks on AM/FM sound completely new with nary a trace of the earlier album's sound to them. And while Radio was more of an instrumental album (with the occasional vocal sample off the radio) showcasing Exile's studio chops with little other distraction, AM/FM shines more light on the mic wreckers. These include many of his compadres such as Blu (check out a track featuring Blu, "Love Line," below), Alchemist, The Grouch & Eligh, Evidence, and Aloe Blacc (with whom he formed his first group, Emanon). Standout tracks include the the Shafiq Husayn remix of "It's Coming Down," "Mega Mix" featuring Fashawn, Big Tone, and ADaD, and the DJ Day remix of "In Love." In addition to AM/FM, I would recommend tracking down both Radio and Exile's 2006 album Dirty Science.  

Continue reading...

Christmas in Japan

Posted by Kells, December 17, 2008 04:23pm | Post a Comment

A few nights ago while watching an old VHS copy of Santa Claus is Coming to Town I began to wonder about this whole Christmas thing. The legend of Santa Claus, according to this stop-action, puppet laden, mind-bending slice of classic holiday TV programming, is a bit dodgy in parts and down-right unsettling as a whole (and hilarious when paired with the right kind of holiday spirits). How on earth did a story like this, the story of Santa Claus, ever so increase in popularity as to reach the mutated, lofty, legendary status it entertains today? It boggles the mind! But then Christmas is just plain weird and, ultimately, up for interpretation and reinterpretation given the varied spiritual, social, economic, geographic and educational contexts that embrace it. That said, I'd like to explore Christmas the way the Japanese do it, as I believe it is a phenomenon that most Americans know little of unless you've had the pleasure of spending Christmas (or the New Year's festivities for the matter) in the biggest little archipelago on the Pacific Rim. 

Recently I asked one of my good buddies, an ex-pat who lives and works in Japan, if he'd be coming back to the good ol' U. S. of A. come Christmas. Sadly he won't be, but he assured me that his absence wouldn't hinder his warm wishes and memories of spending the holidays stateside with friends (and family too I suppose). One thing that he disclosed that has been sticking in my head is, "I have to fend off the almost daily, 'What's Christmas really like in the States?' question." What I'd give to know how he chooses to answer this question; "Oh it's like a weeks-long shopping fiasco that claims the sanity and lives of the over-worked and underpaid temporary workers of my country," I imagine him explaining to a wide eyed and wistful looking クリスマス enthusiast before losing their interest by then expounding upon the glory of salt-cured ham, home-made egg nog and football. I know my friends in Japan are missing out on some of the traditions and seasonal cheer they enjoyed growing up with, but if you ask me, they've got plenty to be merry about being so far away for the holidays. 

I wonder what the Japanese would really think about our way of doing things, however which way we do them, considering what seems to be typical Christmas doings and goings-on in their neck of the woods: mainly dinner at KFC (most families order their Christmas Party Barrels way ahead of time), followed by some delicious Christmas cake usually made of vanilla sponge cake, fresh cream, strawberries and a bit of chocolate. Maybe then you'd get out to take in a glittering electric display of Christmas lights somewhere local while J pop Christmas jams, old and new, fill the airwaves. Now, I'm not altogether sure why Colonel Sanders and Co. have flopped into the Christmas fold Far East-wise, but many seem to think it has to do with his being an old fart sporting a white, though tiny, beard. You gotta admit he looks rather dashing in a Santa suit. About the Christmas cake all I can think of to say is, "yes please." I'd like to think that Japanese Christmas cake is a spin on those yule log cakes we see here in specialty bakeries being that they're both aesthetically and tastefully holiday specific. And so very yummy without being too sweet (Icing in Japan is never of the butter creme variety, which cuts down on the holiday sugar overload). Plus, here is a not-so-fun fact about Christmas cake: it is also used a slang term for unmarried women over the age of twenty-five as Christmas cakes are always thrown out after December 25th as they are, ahem, past their prime. Christmas light displays in Japan are as over the top and Griswold family lampoon-ish as they can be here in the states, with most cities and regions having at least one really decked out landmark. I've heard that houses there aren't as illuminated as they are stateside, which is surprising to me because the Japanese seem to have adopted almost everything about celebrating Christmas minus the religious aspects, much to the relief of bakeries, KFC, department stores, and apparently Christmas tree dealers. Lastly, when it comes to Christmas music in Japan it is important to consider the flip-side of the Christmas coin, after all, there are two ways to translate the phrase "spending time with loved ones."

In Japan Christmas can actually be described as "sexy," as most of those Christmas pop songs are about meeting up with, spending time with, hurrying to get with, wondering if you'll be with, waiting for, thinking about and finally getting it on with or being forgotten or heart-broken by your very special loved one, your lover. For the Japanese Christmas eve and Christmas day are serious baby making times with October birthdays in abundance and the concurrent hearts and love notion decorations that mingle freely around and within the Christmas holiday decorations. I have seen these things with my own two eyes and still I find it a little bit freaky and more than a little bit fun. Freaky because I am of a culture that equates Christmas fun times with the power of children and their ability to believe in Christmas TV specials like Santa Claus is Coming to Town and all that it represents; here, it's a kid thing. For a nation famed both for its sense of shame as well as for its openness to (what seems like) every manner of sexual enterprise, it's funny to me that of all the nights in the year Christmas eve is singled out as the night when romantic love reigns supreme and sex is definitely a given. It's like prom night with all its expectations, dinner reservations, far-in-advance booked overnight accommodations and all. There is even a Christmas "Love Hotel" called Santa's Chapel (pictured right) located somewhere in Osaka. You might be asking yourself, "why would anyone over ten years of age want to check out (or check in to, for that matter) a place that looks like a huge, technicolor toy land of a building called Santa's Chapel?" Well, imagine having a romantic night at home with your very special lady or fella along in close proximity to the whole family. Love Hotels are certainly practical in Japan and no one thinks much of them other than they should be clean, neat, nice and, in some cases, themed places to escape to for love and privacy by the hour or by the night. Don't get me wrong, I think Santa's Chapel is bizarre, but it serves its purpose (all the year round apparently). I also think Love Hotels are still a thing to be gawked at, especially the ones with the head-turning decor and the names, names, oh so ridiculous names. But I digress...

Oh yes, music. Japanese pop super (read: cute boy) ensemble Exile has a new Christmas single out this year. Well, actually it's just a Japanized version of (another cute boy ensemble) Wham's "Last Christmas." Here it is in both forms (for the purpose of twisting your mind), Wham's classic holiday video with Exile's Japanese vocal version played over it:

I have a few personal favorite J pop holiday tunes though they're a bit dated. Actually all my favorite Christmas songs are dated, but I suppose that's the nature of Christmas tunes whether they transport you back to a simpler time or, unfortunately for the Scrooge McBurgermeisters out there, annoy the shit out of you. In the spirit of spreading more Christmas cheer here is a really great holiday song by Tatsurou Yamashita titled "Christmas Eve" (the English version -- the original Japanese version is great too) played over the world's most uncool (and possibly Russian) Christmas-y looking dance video:

What about a real J pop Christmas video? Well, check out this cute-as-shiz Christmas single and video clip from the dressed-as-twin-dancing-Christmas-trees J pop duo Halcali singing "Strawberry Chips" (I think Double DIPtheoreya might be ripping this off for next year's Christmas is the Best show!):

How about a truly dated live performance of a truly crazy sounding Christmas J pop jam -- "Pink Christmas" by the all dancing and sometime singing girl trio Mi-Ke? You got it! In all its over staged, vocally strained, pink stained glory:

Now, how about something scary like a giant girl group of J pop super stardom doing a medley of Supremes covers for a nationally televised Japanese Christmas special brought to you by Ed Sullivan and a guy named Sanma who is as famous for his teeth as he is for his laugh. I give you the very tip top of excess in Japanese Idol Pop contrivance: Morning Musume -- Christmas 2003. I dare you to watch it all:

If that didn't put you off your sugar cookies then I'm sure you can stomach the hard-rockin' nightmare of an over-the-top Japanese Christmas presented in this next video by lady-boy comedian Yakkun Sakurazuka titled, "ChristMaster" -- this is for her:

Lastly, here is a typical Japanese KFC Christmas commercial followed by my favorite J pop band (Unicorn) doing my favorite J pop holiday song, "雪が降る町:"

Merry Christmas ya'll, wherever you are!

<<  1  2  >>  NEXT