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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Total Devastation's Big Tone Amoeblog Interview

Posted by Billyjam, June 17, 2014 05:56pm | Post a Comment
        

"Roll up a phat one, and pass it around. I wanna get blunted, my brother" was the lyrics/hook from bygone era San Francisco rap/hip-hop crew Total Devastation's 1993 hit single "Many Clouds of Smoke" which hit the rap sphere right during the national pro-weed / blunted hip-hop wave of the early nineties. The San Francisco group, who began in 1988 with members Redeye, Big Tone (formerly known as Soopa Dupa), and DJ Tuf Cut Tim the Fat Beat Maker, released their debut - the EP In The S.F. Streets - in 1990 which paved the way for their aforementioned breakthrough 1993 hit single "Many Clouds of Smoke" from their self-titled album that was also known as Legalize It. Currently working on a documentary on the group entitled Total Devastation: The Original Kings of Smoke I recently caught up with Big Tone to chop it up with him on his group, whose final release would be 1999's The Stone Age, for the Amoeblog Hip-Hop History series. Check out both that recent video Amoeblog interview with Big Tone and the music video for their 1993 national hit "Many Clouds of Smoke" (above and below respectively). Not included in the published version of the interview is what Big Tone had to say when asked what he sees as the difference in the Bay Area hip-hop scene two decades ago vs. now? "We were all more unified back then I think. Our generation, we all had a goal: to put our region on the map. I think that is the main difference," said Big Tone who noted that he is still active in the music business and that he is currently working on a project called C.S.I. (City Slickers Inc.) which is Tone along with his homies Spit Game Dame and DJ Foul Ball with whom he's just released the full-length City Slick Minded on Ball of Smoke. Additionally he is working on forthcoming solo release to be titled The Legend of Smokey Green Thumb. Look for the Total Devastation documentary sometime in 2015.

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Hip-Hop Rap-Up, Week End 05.30.14: The Roots, PUTS, Atmosphere, Dre's Pay Day, Innocent?, Chynna, Buckshot & P-Money

Posted by Billyjam, May 30, 2014 08:20am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Hollywood Hip-Hop Top Five Chart: Week Ending 05:30:14


1) The Roots ...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin (Def Jam)
  (also available in LP)

2) Blu Good To Be Home (Nature Sounds/Universal)

3) People Under The Stairs 12 Step Program (also avail in LP) (Piecelock 70)

4) The Fugees Score (Music On Vinyl)

5) Atmosphere Southsiders (also avail in LP) (Rhymesayers Entertainment)

In addition to the two new albums on last week's chart - 12 Step Program (also avail in LP) from longtime LA rap duo People Under the Stairs (PUTS) and fellow longtime indie hip-hop duo Atmosphere's Southsiders (also avail in LP) - new hip-hop albums this week include both Blu's Good To Be Home and this week's number one; The Roots ...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin. This new album, also available in LP format, is the eleventh studio album in 21 years from the Philly formed crew who in more recent years gained mainstream acceptance as Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show band.  The on point Amoeba review of.... Shoot Your Cousin suggests that the new album, the first since 2011's Undun,  comes at a much needed point in the Roots' highly public profile to "the band, once more often noted for their musicianship, emcee skills and social consciousness rather than for being Jimmy Fallon’s house band," to help them reestablish their street cred, and concluding that, "We’ll let The Roots keep their day job, as long as they come back every so often with an album as cool as this one." Clocking in a modest 33 minutes, the ten (technically eleven) track album opens with a song from the late great Nina Simone ("Theme From The Middle Of The Night") and includes such tracks as the lead single "When the People Cheer" (scroll down to see video below). The other chart entry this week is the recently reissued on vinyl from The Fugees Score.

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The 20 Best 1980's Hip-Hop Albums

Posted by Billyjam, May 26, 2014 12:00pm | Post a Comment

20 Best Hip-Hop Albums of the 1980s

When fellow Amoeblogger Billy Gil, who has done a number of Best Of lists in various genres, invited me to do some hip-hop best-of lists I had mixed feelings about the task. While I love drawing up lists of my favorite hip-hop releases from different eras and regions, I know that no matter what I include or how I position/rate it, later I will feel some kind of regret thinking that maybe I should have included or excluded a release or not ranked it as high on the list. And I am sure there will be commenters who will have the same critical thoughts (a la "I can't believe you didn't include ______ or that you ranked____ as number one," etc.). Simply put, it is difficult to narrow down Best Of lists because firstly it's personal and subjective, and secondly because a list I (or you) may draw up today will be different from one we might compile in a year's time. Musical tastes and opinions, especially in retrospect, are constantly in flux for me anyway.

Furthermore, sometimes an album or a single will rate high on one list (depending on the category) but not so on another. An example from this list would be Too $hort who would rank up the top of a Bay Area list but lower on an overall hip-hop album list of the 80's. Then there are all of those amazing hip-hop singles that were only singles, non-album cuts, or were culled from albums that otherwise were not as strong overall. Or in the case of Malcolm McLaren's 1983 album Duck Rock, which technically is a diverse genre album with hip-hop content and packaged in a hip-hop fashion from its cover art to how it is meshed together by the Worlds Famous Supreme Team radio show, it doesn't technically qualify as a hip-hop album. Add to my not included on the list 80's albums: such compilations as Mr Magic's Rap Attack series since I tried to focus purely on artist (vs. compilation) releases with the exception of one soundtrack on the list. Anyway, to combat all of this, I plan on doing many more best-of hip-hop lists with the goal being to include as many titles of great records as possible overall.
 

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Hip-Hop Rap-Up, Week End 05.16.14: Coalmine Records 10 Year Anniversary, Nas, The Legion, Zion I in Concert + more

Posted by Billyjam, May 16, 2014 11:08am | Post a Comment
      
 

Among the brand new releases to arrive in Amoeba this week is the all killer, no filler Coalmine Records ten year anniversary release (promo video above) that showcases the creme de la creme of the past decade's output from the Brooklyn based label - all mixed together by DJ Revolution. Aptly entitled Coalmine Records Presents: Unearthed  the compilation album (a double CD disc set) contains both a mixed version care of DJ Revolution, and an 'Untagged Deluxe Edition' which includes three bonus cuts. Artists featured include Pharoahe Monch, Kool G Rap, Large Professor, The Artifacts, Blu, Sean Price, Big Noyd, Skillz, Guilty Simpson, Rah Digga, El Da Senseiand Fashawn.

Hip-Hop Rap-Up, Week End 05.09.14: Iggy Azelea, Nas, Drake, Eminem, YG, Dre's Beat$, PUTS, Zion I, Premier & Jakk Frost + more

Posted by Billyjam, May 9, 2014 08:57am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Hollywood Hip-Hop Top Five Chart: Week Ending 05:09:14


1) Nas Illmatic XX (Sony Legacy)

2) YG My Krazy Life (Def Jam)

3) Iggy Azelea The New Classic (Island/Def Jam)

4) Drake Nothing Was The Same (Cash Money)

5) Eminem The Slim Shady LP (Interscope)

Celebrating its twenty year anniversary is Nas' flawless, classic 1994 album Illmatic which has been especially reissued by Sony Legacy for the occasion as  Illmatic XX. The album, which includes such hip-hop timeless gems as "N.Y. State of Mind," "It Ain't Hard To Tell," and "The World Is Yours," by the Queensbridge emcee is this week's number one chart entry at the Hollywood Amoeba Music store, where also charting in the latest top five is another 90's rap classic: Eminem's 1999 megahit The Slim Shady LP (Interscope) which finds itself back in top sales this week at the SoCal store. Other current top five chart entries include Drake's Nothing Was The Same on Cash Money, and YG's My Krazy Life (Def Jam) which drew inspiration from various West Coast hip hop classics as Dr. Dre's The Chronic. Speaking of Dr. Dre, the famous former N.W.A. member/influential solo artist who has made a huge impact as a hip-hop producer, looks about to make his biggest (financial) mark as co-creator of the audio equipment and music-streaming service Beats Electronics known for the headphones that carry his name (Dre Beats) if the company, as has been reported over the past 24 hours, gets purchased by Apple at a reported $3.2billion price tag!

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