Amoeblog

Roots of Reality Rap & Beginnings of Conscious Hip-Hop

Posted by Billyjam, March 30, 2016 12:00pm | Post a Comment

Upon digging in crates of early eighties hip-hop today, I was pleasantly reminded of just how socially aware and outspoken so many of those early era hip-hop records actually were. It wasn't all "party over here, party over there, say hey" structured escapist rap, at least not from this period of the early 80's onwards. Of these 12" records, I picked out three to pop on the platter and listen closely to and present here via their YouTube clips: Divine Sounds' "What People Do For Money," Kurtis Blow's "8 Million Stories," and Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel & Furious Five's 1982 Sugar Hill single "Message II (Survival)." As the title of the latter implies, the record was the sequel to the pioneering hip-hop crew's hit "The Message" from earlier that same year. [Both are found on the group's Best Of collection CD].  An international hit, it held a mirror up to the decay and neglect of the inner city told in catchy memorable rhymes on the stark reality of living in poverty in urban America. The antithesis of a rap party anthem, "The Message" was a cold slap in the face forcing all to look at the everyday struggles of living amidst poverty and violence. On the record Duke Bootee and Melle Mel traded such famous observatory rhymes, "Rats in the front room, roaches in the back. Junkies in the alley with a baseball bat. I tried to get away but I couldn't get far. Cos a man with a tow truck repossessed my car." "The Message" and its widespread success is regularly cited as the original "conscious rap" record and held responsible for kick-starting a sub-genre of hip-hop that would play a key role in the genre up to the present. However many over the years have protested this label, citing it as too limiting and restrictive a pigeon hole to fit an artist into. Most notable of late is talented hip-hop star Vince Staples who has vocally and mockingly rebelled against and dismissed the term "conscious rap" that he protests has been unfairly applied to his work.

Continue reading...

Top 10 Hip-Hop Acts At Ice-T's Art of Rap Festival

Posted by Billyjam, July 18, 2015 12:55pm | Post a Comment

This Amoeblog, which includes music videos by ten of the numerous talented acts that will perform at this weekend's Art Of Rap Festival, is geared to act as a primer for the Ice-T-curated,  two-day, two-location (SoCal and NorCal) event that includes some of the best MC names in the history of hip-hop, such as Rakim, Melle Mel, Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick, and the Cold Crush Brothers featuring Grandmaster Caz. Taking place today (Saturday, July 18th) in SoCal at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre and then tomorrow up at the Shoreline Amphiteather in Mountain View, the ambitious project is an outgrowth of the documentary film Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap from a few years ago. The documentary features many of the same acts in the film, which is now available from Amoeba on DVD as well as the accompanying soundtrack on CD and LP that features lots of the freestyle and live versions of songs featured throughout the documentary).

New York State Of Mind #100 of 100

Posted by Billyjam, October 8, 2014 01:30pm | Post a Comment


Welcome to the final installment in the one hundred part weekly New York State of Mind (NYSOM) Amoeblog series that began two years ago. For this 100th Amoeblog I want to run down some events happening in the coming days/weeks ahead as well as include a random series of NYC themed music videos that I have not yet included in the many NYC music videos already posted to this Amoeblog series. Ongoing events of interest include the Greenpoint, Brooklyn weekly No Lights No Lycra (NLNL) which is happens Tuesday evenings for a little over an hour in a church basement hall is the total antithesis of the overpriced bottle-service night clubs of Manhattan. Founded in New Zealand and with satellite parities like this one in Brooklyn dotted round the globe (Chicago and San Francisco are the other two spots in the US), the rules of NLNL are simple and straightforward and posted by the door upon entry. "No watching, no cell phones, no breakdancing" is what is not allowed. What is allowed/encouraged is to make a dancing and having fun - in near darkness except for a dimly lit ceiling light show that takes your eyes a couple of minutes to adjust to.

On the night I attended NLNL the dance music played by the non-billed DJ (a guy dancing who routinely ran over to hit play for the next song off his iPhone that was plugged into the decent sound system) ranged from trap to deep house to past decades pop hits such as Dexys Midnight Runners' "Come On Eileen," Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al," Dr. Dre2Pac's "California Luv," Men Without Hats' "Safety Dance," and The Cardigans' "Love Fool." NLNL, NYC happens every Tuesday from 8.15pm – 9.30pm at 129 Russell St, Brooklyn, NY 11222. No alcohol. All ages. $5 donation. More info here.

Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: July 1981, ABC's 20/20 Brings Rap To The Masses

Posted by Billyjam, December 10, 2013 03:36pm | Post a Comment

20/20 Report Hip-Hop Special (1981) - Part 1

Above and below are the two parts of the very first network TV news program report on rap/hip-hop: an entertaining episode of ABC's 20/20 from July, 1981. While Yo! MTV Raps is routinely (and rightfully) credited for speeding up the popularity of rap/hip-hop by bringing the inner-city, Bronx NY born culture and musical form directly into the living rooms of middle America and exposing many non-urban kids to rap for the first time, it came along a lot later than this. The MTV weekly two hour rap music video show, hosted by Fab 5 Freddy, Ed Lover and Doctor Dre, did not begin airing until the summer of 1988 and hence was by no means the original introduction of rap music to mainstream America. That honor/distinction goes to ABC's 20/20 investigative journalism/news magazine program, that even predates MTV's very existance (well by one month), which was the very first national/network TV news show to do an in-depth spotlight on hip-hop or "rap" music, as it was still generally referred to back then, for a national audience.

Continue reading...