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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: 1990's West Coast Rap Baseball Hats

Posted by Billyjam, October 29, 2013 03:20pm | Post a Comment


















When it came to the era of the cool promo items courtesy of rap record labels that era would have to have been the first half decade of the 1990's: a time when rap record label promotion and publicity departments seemingly had a lot of disposable dollars to spend on exclusive swag (that, note, the artists themselves ultimately paid for a little further down the accounting road) that included baseball hats designed to coincide with the marketing of new albums. As journalist and radio DJ during that period I was fortunate to receive a lot of these promo items so for this week's Hip-Hop History Tuesdays Amoeblog I have assembled several of them - all of which are West Coast based. These include (above) the baseball hats for the 1993 rap movie soundtrack Menace II Society (a great album too!) that was released by Jive, and Profile Records' act 2nd II None straight outta Compton who came up thanks in part to their childhood friend DJ Quik whose own hat is down below too. Also included below are rap promo baseball hats for such artists as Ice-T (the $ sign one), Eazy-E (the Compton hat right), P.P.C. (Penthouse Players Clique) from Los Angeles, and MC Ren and E-40 from LA and the Bay respectively, plus two Bay Area rap record label hats from SF and the east Bay respectively: Black Power Productions and Oaktown Records.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Los Angeles Rap/Hip-Hop, The First Decade (Pt. II)

Posted by Billyjam, October 15, 2013 05:20pm | Post a Comment












Continuing from last week's hip-hop history installment, in which I went back to the formative years of the early to mid and latter 1980's in LA rap/hip-hop, I pick up with more listings of  1980's rap releases - all of which were 12" singles since the full length rap album was not yet so common. Hence why when, in the early 90's, West Coast rap pioneer DJ Flash went back and compiled and licensed many of these singles he did the world a favor. That was for his West Coast Rap history CD compilation series that I was involved in at a research and writing of liner notes capacity. This month I caught up with DJ Flash, who recently re-teamed up with another old school West Coast rap pioneer pal of his Captain Rapp, to executive produce a new album with Ronnie Hudson - maker of the 1982 funk classic "West Coast Poplock" that got repopularized in 1995 when it was sampled for the rap hit "California Love" by 2Pacfeat. Dr. Dre and Roger Troutman. Entitled WestCoastin' that brand new album, that is available on CD at Amoeba Hollywood, is essentially an update of that influential hit of Hudson's (three different mixes included) with lots more on the new album that features a slew of old school guest producers and rappers adding their talents including Snoop Dogg, Too $hort, E-40, Rappin' 4 Tay, Celly Cel, Zapp Troutman, Battlecat, and Richie Rich. Check for the in-depth interview with Flash on this new project later this week here on the Amoeblog. Meantime back to the old school 80's LA rap records that Flash compiled for his West Coast Rap compilation series for Excello/Rhino.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Los Angeles Rap/Hip-Hop, The First Decade (Pt. I)

Posted by Billyjam, October 8, 2013 10:14am | Post a Comment
Back at the time of their release, hip-hop's earliest major hit records by New York City rappers the Sugarhill Gang (“Rapper’s Delight”  in 1979) and Kurtis Blow (“The Breaks” in 1980) were considered novelty records by some with the genre itself similarly dismissed by many as merely a passing fad in music. But at the same time those records were taken seriously by both fans of this new genre and aspiring rappers across the land including out on the West Coast where the seeds were being sown for what, over the following decades, would blossom into today's vibrant, prolific, and diverse West Coast hip-hop scene.  This new wave of pioneering rappers up and down the Left coast, from Seattle to Oakland, to Los Angeles, were instantly bitten by the rap bug and inspired to get busy recording their own interpretation of this New York City born  urban youth music (and culture) that, like punk rock, offered an accessible DIY approach. You didn't need to know how to play an instrument or how to sing. All you needed was records and a mic to DJ and MC respectively. Similarly all you needed was a spray can to do graffiti, or a strip of cardboard to break (dance) on.

The first wave of West Coast rappers  drew influence from what they had heard out of the East Coast: adapting its style but infusing their own flavor. As a fan/collector of West Coast hip-hop from its inception and also as a part of the compilation series - West Coast  Rap Volumes 1,2,& 3 compilation series of 80's rap on Excello/Rhino that was produced by D.J. Flash and released in the early 90's with research and interviews and liner notes done by me - I became familiar with a lot of this great early West Coast rap (note that the music was called "rap" more than "hip-hop" back then). So for this Hip Hop History Tuesday installment I am going to retrace that first decade in Los Angeles rap that began at the beginning of the 1980's. This is part one of the two-parter on the first decade of LA rap. Next week's second half will include more history of 1980's LA rap artists/releases plus an interview, conducted recently, with both DJ Flash and fellow West Coast hip-hop pioneer Captain Rapp.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: The Roxanne Wars and Battle Raps On Record

Posted by Billyjam, October 1, 2013 09:26am | Post a Comment

UTFO "Roxanne, Roxanne"

With so much mean-spirited dissing between rappers these days on social media websites like Twitter I am reminded of a simpler (pre Digital Age) era in hip-hop when one rapper had a beef with another he/she took it to the mic and did something creative and musical about it - keeping it real, real hip-hop, in other words. Hence for today's installment in the weekly Hip-Hop History Tuesdays Amoeblog I return to the 80's to the battle rap on record era and specifically the Roxanne battles/wars which pretty much kick-started and shaped the form on record. This approach to ironing out differences between individuals in hip-hop has never been restricted to just rappers/emcees. Indeed hip-hop's four elements - b-boying, graffiti, DJ'ing, and MC'ing - each have healthy histories of traditionally been rooted in non-violent forms of battle between rivals. Since the 70's graffiti crews have traditionally challenged one another via their vibrant street art. Hip-hop DJs / turntablists have long fought with one another via displaying their respective skills in DJ battles. Hip-hop dance b-boy/b-girl crews have gone head to head poppin, lockin, and breakin' etc. in celebrated dance battles. And, of course, MC's have battled one another in freestyle rhyme, whether on the street corner in a cipher, on stage, or on record UTFO Roxanne Roxannesince the beginnings of hip-hop forty years ago. They still do to this day. However many are too lazy to do so in person with their opponent but willing to do so from the comfort of their iPhone via a typed up diss of 140 characters or less .

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Hip-Hop Rap-Up, Week End 09.20.13: 2 Chainz, LNMO, Big Sean, Arsenio Hall

Posted by Billyjam, September 20, 2013 10:19am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music Hollywood Top Five Week Ending 09: 20:13


1) Earl Sweatshirt Doris (Columbia)

2) LMNO After The Fact (Up-Above)

3) 2 Chainz B.O.A.T.S. II #METIME (Def Jam)

4) Jay-Z Magna Carta Holy Grail (Def Jam)

5) Kanye West Yeezus (Def Jam)

Included in the latest hip-hop top five chart from Amoeba Hollywood is 2 Chainz' B.O.A.T.S. II #METIME which is the winner of the "#1 Next Level Album Title (September, 2013 - Associated Amoeba Website Album Reviewers Association)." This latest  from 2 Chainz - the ever popular Atlanta-based rapper formerly known as Tity Boi is accurately described by this website as "super classy melancholy vibe which has 2 Chainz doing his pretty specific list-rapping (potentially equivalent to the one-liner stylings of someone like Steven Wright or Jack Handey?), which always manages to be both unbelievably laid back and unbelievably urgent." and is well worth picking up at each Amoeba store or online here (Note; free shipping in USA). Another recommended new entry on this latest Amoeba Hollywood hip-hop chart is local SoCal artist LMNO's brand new album After The Fact (Up-Above) that finds the Long Beach, CA artist in killer form with a rhyme flow that is smooth and engaging from the get go with the album's top notch production courtesy of Evidence who also graces the mic. Other collaborators among the album's well chosen guests include Rakaa, and MED. A must get for fans of that timeless 90's flavor hip-hop.

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