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Music you should KNOW: How Delicious is Blackalicious?
Don't let money change ya! proclaimed Blackalicious at their show on November
20 at Canes in Mission Beach. True to their word, they have not. Blackalicious released
their EP in 1999 and followed up with their full length album "Nia" in 2000. In the early 1990s,
Blackalicious helped to establish the underground hip-hop scene in San Francisco and, even today,
continue to stay true to their origin. Known for their funky beats and lyric induced imagery,
Blackalicious is notorious for keeping the crowd perpetually moving and hyped up. Their lyrical
skills, fresh originality and interaction with the audience made this show quite possibly the best
hip-hop all year.
Blackalicious's "Nia" really struck a chord in the underground with its true hip-hop flavor.
Gift of Gab, the group's forefront lyricist, along with producer DJ Chief Xcel have been
creating some of the most innovative, personal and witty lyrics and beats since they started
out in 1994. Gift of Gab's talent is stupendous and is not fully comprehended until seen in
the flesh. He performed the infamous song "A to G" from their new album and finished off
with "Alphabet Aerobics". These songs consist of a plethora of alliterations and tongue
twisters. In addition, the beat gets faster with each consecutive letter so that the lyrics
must get so swift that they would seemingly trip over themselves, however, Gab maintains
his breath and pronunciation (The crowd has to take a deep breath after this performance).
His variance in pitch and meter is very distinctive and when matched with Xcel's vintage
beats and sampling from the 70's and 80's, make a divine combination. How Gab manages to
go from a robotic monotone to a syrupy flow to a ghetto drawl with each song remains a
mystery of his endless talent and repertoire.
Gab is not the only one with shining talent. Gab's partner emcee, Lateef, has a lyrical
style that is influenced by dancehall. He gave a stunning performance and his energy in
managing the crowd never seemed to cease. His style of rapping and singing both compliments
and contrasts Gab. Another highlight of the show was Erinn Anova, whose soulful and powerful
voice weaves through their songs and gives emotional punch to their choruses. This trio of
innovators never disappoint their audiences.
The performances of "Deception" and "You Didn't Know That Though" show off the inventiveness
of their lyrics and beats that are influenced by tribal sounds and synthesized instruments.
The driving rhythms of these songs along with sing-song choruses got the whole crowd involved
and bopping their heads. Gab and Lateef even did a flow over the beats from the legendary
Roger & Zapp. Contrasting these beat heavy songs, "Shallow Days" and "If I May" are
contemplative pieces that flow like storytelling. Their lyrics are smart and personal
narratives which keeps the crowd interested and emotionally connected.
A rare occurrence in San Diego, the show was 18 and up. Though most people 21 and up
would argue that an 18 and up show makes for an annoying show, it was a surprise that the
crowd was more excited and conscious of the music than any pretentious and self conscious
group of young hipsters. Breakdancing circles were formed and kids were practically on top
of each other to be near the front. It was exciting to have San Diego host such artists as
Blackalicious. If you don't have their old album or their Quannum Projects album or you
haven't heard them yet, wake up and give them a listen. Their music is honest and original,
not overproduced like much of what crowds the air waves today.