Your Memory's Museum
Your Memory's Museum

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NPR | Rick Rubin, Russell Simmons: Def Jam's First 25 Years

Behind every great pop music genre, there’s a record label that launched its stars. Blue Note pushed Theolonious Monk and Art Blakey into the mainstream. Sun Records brought us Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis. Motown had its glittering roster of the Supremes, Stevie Wonder and more.

For hip-hop music in the early 1980s, that label was Def Jam. A new book attempts to capture that history in photos, interviews and essays. It’s called Def Jam Recordings: The First 25 Years of the Last Great Record Label.

LL Cool J was just 17 when he became one of the first artists signed to the company. The men who founded the Def Jam label in 1984 weren’t much older. There was Rick Rubin, a 21-year-old NYU art school student from Long Island making music in his dorm room; and Russell Simmons, a 27-year-old from Queens, who was already making a name for himself in the downtown scene with his brother’s rap group Run DMC.

Weekend Edition Sunday host Audie Cornish spoke with both founders separately about the early days of the label. (read more)

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NPR | Def Jam In Pictures and Words: An Interactive

Def Jam Recordings was instrumental in putting hip-hop on the map, paving the way for the music and the culture to permeate society and alter the landscape of popular culture. The just-published Def Jam Recordings: The First 25 Years of the Last Great Record Label is heavy with photos, album covers and designs that capture the brash attitude of the company. Click on an image below to hear Bill Adler, the author of the book (and longtime publicist for Def Jam), and Cey Adams, who ran design for the company for many years, tell stories about some of Def Jam’s most striking visuals. [NPR]

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The Bizarre 20-Year Ride Of Two Pharcydes (via @nprmusic)
Two decades and two months ago, an unruly, exuberant quartet of rappers from South Central Los Angeles called The Pharcyde loosed their debut album upon the world. [Read More…]
Words by @DanCharnas

The Bizarre 20-Year Ride Of Two Pharcydes (via )

Two decades and two months ago, an unruly, exuberant quartet of rappers from South Central Los Angeles called The Pharcyde loosed their debut album upon the world. [Read More…]

Words by @DanCharnas

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Adrian Younge: Looking Back To Move Hip-Hop Forward (via @NPRMusic)
Spaghetti Westerns and the scores of Ennio Morricone, Philadelphia soul, opera and the Wu-Tang Clan all come together in the music of composer and producer Adrian Younge. He has produced and composed two new albums: one with William Hart, lead singer of The Delfonics, that’s being released this week, and one with rapper Ghostface Killah — Twelve Reasons to Die — that will be out next month. Ghostface Killah and Younge will debut their album just after midnight Thursday at South by Southwest. While Younge thinks of himself as a hip-hop guy, it’s been years since he has listened to that music with any regularity.  [Read More…]

Adrian Younge: Looking Back To Move Hip-Hop Forward (via @NPRMusic)

Spaghetti Westerns and the scores of Ennio Morricone, Philadelphia soul, opera and the Wu-Tang Clan all come together in the music of composer and producer Adrian Younge. He has produced and composed two new albums: one with William Hart, lead singer of The Delfonics, that’s being released this week, and one with rapper Ghostface Killah — Twelve Reasons to Die — that will be out next month. Ghostface Killah and Younge will debut their album just after midnight Thursday at South by Southwest. While Younge thinks of himself as a hip-hop guy, it’s been years since he has listened to that music with any regularity.  [Read More…]

(Source: NPR)

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The Many Sounds Of 1993 Bay Area Rap (via @NPRmusic)
This year marks the 20th anniversary of a remarkable year in music. Over the 12 months of 1993, the Wu-Tang Clan, Snoop Dogg, A Tribe Called Quest, Queen Latifah and more than a dozen other rap groups released albums that helped change the sound of America. In the late ’80s, a music industry focused on New York and Los Angeles was slow to see the San Francisco Bay Area’s rap potential. And so the music made there followed two rules: Do it yourself, and be yourself. [Read More…]

The Many Sounds Of 1993 Bay Area Rap (via @NPRmusic)

This year marks the 20th anniversary of a remarkable year in music. Over the 12 months of 1993, the Wu-Tang Clan, Snoop Dogg, A Tribe Called Quest, Queen Latifah and more than a dozen other rap groups released albums that helped change the sound of America. In the late ’80s, a music industry focused on New York and Los Angeles was slow to see the San Francisco Bay Area’s rap potential. And so the music made there followed two rules: Do it yourself, and be yourself. [Read More…]

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The Ghostface Killah Rises Again (via @nprmusic)
Ghostface Killah is a compulsive storyteller. His fiction is painterly, and he delivers it in a headlong rush. On “,” from the 1997 album Wu-Tang Forever, he rhymed, “He pointed to the charm on his neck / With his last bit of energy left, told me rock it with respect / I opened it, seen the God holdin’ his kids / Photogenic, tears just burst out my wig.” He’s a romantic, , and never stoic. [Read More…]

The Ghostface Killah Rises Again (via @nprmusic)

Ghostface Killah is a compulsive storyteller. His fiction is painterly, and he delivers it in a headlong rush. On “,” from the 1997 album Wu-Tang Forever, he rhymed, “He pointed to the charm on his neck / With his last bit of energy left, told me rock it with respect / I opened it, seen the God holdin’ his kids / Photogenic, tears just burst out my wig.” He’s a romantic, , and never stoic. [Read More…]

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NPR x UNT
…let the story begin

NPR x UNT

…let the story begin

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Federal Drug Case Ensnares The Home Of Hyphy (via nprmusic)
This year, nearly two dozen people are scheduled to enter a federal courtroom to face charges related to the sale of Ecstasy and other drugs, including heroin, across Northern California and the country.On its face, the case appears like any other federal drug sting. It was built over four years and began when a man named Michael Lott pulled a silver Mercedes-Benz into the parking lot of the Hiddenbrooke Golf Club in Vallejo, a about 30 miles from San Francisco, and allegedly tried to sell heroin to an undercover agent.At the time of his arrest, Lott was the self-proclaimed CEO of Thizz Entertainment, the rap label started by Andre Hicks, the late rapper and mogul widely known as Mac Dre. [Read More…]

Federal Drug Case Ensnares The Home Of Hyphy (via nprmusic)

This year, nearly two dozen people are scheduled to enter a federal courtroom to face charges related to the sale of Ecstasy and other drugs, including heroin, across Northern California and the country.

On its face, the case appears like any other federal drug sting. It was built over four years and began when a man named Michael Lott pulled a silver Mercedes-Benz into the parking lot of the Hiddenbrooke Golf Club in Vallejo, a about 30 miles from San Francisco, and allegedly tried to sell heroin to an undercover agent.

At the time of his arrest, Lott was the self-proclaimed CEO of Thizz Entertainment, the rap label started by Andre Hicks, the late rapper and mogul widely known as Mac Dre. [Read More…]

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NPR Microphone Check: Marley Marl  

Marley Marl is one of the most important people in hip-hop history. He’s the one who figured out how to sample — how to get pieces of songs off vinyl records and into a drum machine. More than 30 years later, and 25 years after his first album, 1988’s In Control Vol. 1, he sat down with Microphone Check hosts Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Frannie Kelley to tell stories about the moment he realized what his discovery meant.

(via nprmusic)

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The Choice Is Yours: 10 Great Rap Release Dates Of The 1990s (via nprmusic)
Raise your hand if you ever cut school to go buy a brand new album the day it came out. Raise your hand if you went to Tower Records, or The Wiz, and you did this in the 1990s. Raise your hand if you remember impatiently waiting for the doors to open, racing to the front of the register line and hoping to make it back to school before lunch — becoming the first to brag about owning the latest EPMD release or Illmatic.
Today, we live in an era in of streamable snippets and video preview clips — a technology that makes the selection process far less risky than it was when I was a kid. The stakes we faced then are nothing that today’s rap fan experiences. The idea of previewing an album was unheard of in the ’90s — outside of a listening station the most you could hope for was a video on MTV, or a couple songs on the radio, before you had to pay to play.
And so, back in the day, what you held in your hands in the lunch room mattered. Remember standing in front of the giant wall in the rap section of your local Sam Goody with $12.83 in your pocket? I do — that’s exact change for a $11.99 tape plus tax in upstate New York, where I lived then. If you had similar concerns in, say 1993, like debating whether to cop KRS-One’s Return of The Boom Bap or Souls of Mischief ‘93 Til Infinity, (which were both ­­­released on the same day, 20 years ago this week), the ten dates on this list may spark some nostalgia.

The money that flowed through the music business in the ’90s and the quality of the music released then helped to create a fat spectrum of hip-hop music — enough that Tuesdays, the traditional release day for albums, was often full of tough choices. This list notes one such complicated day from each year of that decade. Every date here marks the entry of some very different sounds into our world, but the story of each person who bought one of the albums ends the same: furiously tearing into plastic, jamming a squeaky clean tape into a valiant Walkman (later, a Discman) and pressing play for the first time. [Read More…]

The Choice Is Yours: 10 Great Rap Release Dates Of The 1990s (via nprmusic)

Raise your hand if you ever cut school to go buy a brand new album the day it came out. Raise your hand if you went to Tower Records, or The Wiz, and you did this in the 1990s. Raise your hand if you remember impatiently waiting for the doors to open, racing to the front of the register line and hoping to make it back to school before lunch — becoming the first to brag about owning the latest EPMD release or Illmatic.

Today, we live in an era in of streamable snippets and video preview clips — a technology that makes the selection process far less risky than it was when I was a kid. The stakes we faced then are nothing that today’s rap fan experiences. The idea of previewing an album was unheard of in the ’90s — outside of a listening station the most you could hope for was a video on MTV, or a couple songs on the radio, before you had to pay to play.

And so, back in the day, what you held in your hands in the lunch room mattered. Remember standing in front of the giant wall in the rap section of your local Sam Goody with $12.83 in your pocket? I do — that’s exact change for a $11.99 tape plus tax in upstate New York, where I lived then. If you had similar concerns in, say 1993, like debating whether to cop KRS-One’s Return of The Boom Bap or Souls of Mischief ‘93 Til Infinity, (which were both ­­­released on the same day, 20 years ago this week), the ten dates on this list may spark some nostalgia.

The money that flowed through the music business in the ’90s and the quality of the music released then helped to create a fat spectrum of hip-hop music — enough that Tuesdays, the traditional release day for albums, was often full of tough choices. This list notes one such complicated day from each year of that decade. Every date here marks the entry of some very different sounds into our world, but the story of each person who bought one of the albums ends the same: furiously tearing into plastic, jamming a squeaky clean tape into a valiant Walkman (later, a Discman) and pressing play for the first time. [Read More…]