Monday, July 28, 2008

Skillz in 1995

There used to be an annual concert in Richmond's Highland Park, called the "Park Jam." I think it ran for about 4 years or so, mostly local acts on a portable stage performing for neighborhood folks. D'angelo was billed one year, but he couldn't make it. One of the dudes from Shades of Lingo came out and rapped once. It was usualy a parade of wannabees and good-tryers, unless Skillz was performing. Once he took the stage, he made the event legit.

I think the concerts continued for a couple of years after this particular performance. Artie Jefferson, a local record shop owner who put the shows together, decided to quit while he was ahead. Even though the shows would go on into the night, there were no incidents in the park, which is now called Ann Hardy Plaza. But the area continued to decline and soon the neighborhood was frequented by people who didn't respect community events. The event retired with a perfect record.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Skillz Drops A Million

Is this really happening? Is Skillz actually seeing a proper album release, something that hasn't happened in more than a decade? Well, it sure looks like it. After years of being held up, pushed back and let go, the rap vet is scheduled to release "The Million Dollar Back Pack" today. See you at the wrecka stowe.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Queen of the Underground

Female rappers have been an endangered species for several years. Let's look at the sad landscape of yesteryear's stars and last week's chart toppers.

Queen Latifah is singing jazz standards and allegedly planning to marry her trainer. Monie Love plays other people's records on the radio instead of making her own. Remy Ma is spitting bars from behind bars. Lil Kim has done her time and is hoping that her old fans recognize her on a new label with a new face. The only hits Foxy Brown has been responsible for lately have been those upside her manicurists' head. MC Lyte is doing voice-overs for award shows instead of being nominated for awards. Lumidee, Lumi-don't. Yo-Yo's judging a reality show contest with female rappers, including one that had a established rapper as a contestant.  Lady Sovereign hasn't been seen since her meltdown at Studio B in Brooklyn.  (She's short, so it could be we're all just looking over her.) Add to the list, these ladies from the 80's who are missing in action: J. J. Fad, Michie Mee, Ice Cream Tee, Oaktown 357, Wee Papa Girls, Antoinette, Ya Kid-K, Deadly Venoms, Poizon Posse, Boss and  Lin-Que. R.I.P. MC Trouble and Lisa Lopes.

While some have survived the game and made a successful career for themselves away from the microphone, like Roxanne Shante, (that's Doctor Shante to you)  few have kept it real in the game for years. Philadelphia-born Bahamadia, while only three albums deep, has been in the business of music for over a decade. She cultivated a fan base in the underground scene while guesting on projects with The Roots and Erykah Badu. The True honeybun sat down with me after a show with Unspoken Herd at Alley Katz in Richmond to talk about her next project, European audience and why she's always being asked about the status of females artists in hip hop.

Shout out to the other sisters doing the damn thing: Missy Elliott, Jean Grae, Imani Coppola, Trina and Khia.