This coming Friday, three different sides of me will be competing for my attention: my inner Cheap Bastard, my outer Music Snob and my overarching Antisocial Loner. Whatever side you most closely identify with on Friday night, I've got some rap stuff to recommend to you.
For you Cheap Bastards: 4th & B is inexplicably throwing a free show featuring a slew of West Coast rappers: Ras Kass, Crooked I, Lady of Rage and Mistah Fab. Though it's free, you still should go online and "buy" (read: reserve) your tickets in advance. (Don't worry: it's still free.) Ras Kass is the hyper-intelligent street lyricist from Carson who came up in the '90s with the likes of Xzibit and Dogg Pound MC Kurupt (he was actually in two different "supergroups", one each with Xzibit and Kurupt, among others). He was set to be the lyrical King of the West until he ran into label drama.
Crooked I also experienced label drama back in the day with the notorious Death Row Records but has since found renewed success on Eminem's Shady Records with his own supergroup, Slaughterhouse. Other members of Slaughterhouse might get more attention -- Royce Da 5'9" for being Em's BFF and having a more established catalog, Joe Budden for whining on YouTube and inciting Internet rap beef. But make no mistake: Royce, Budden, Joell Ortiz, and even Eminem himself are all chasing Crooked I in terms of technique. Remember all that triple-time madness on Eminem's Recovery album? That was his Crooked I impersonation.
Lady of Rage and Mistah Fab round out the bill. Lady of Rage was the First Lady of the Dogg Pound Gang in the '90s. She can rap and beat you down; she just barely ever got the chance to show her skills before mainstream female rappers all became hypersexualized. Mistah Fab was supposed to be one of the poster boys of the Bay Area hyphy movement until he pissed off the wrong powerful man. Though he's not really a favorite of mine, he's still solid and worth checking.
For you Music Snobs: I'm gonna recommend the least-recognizable national name (a Music Snob would drop an oxymoron) rocking that night. Yes, Brother Ali is playing at UCSD Porter's Pub but liking him isn't snobby enough. Eligh from the Living Legends is playing Winston's in Ocean Beach. I'm recommending this show but not even for Eligh because, again, that wouldn't be snobby enough. You should go to this show to check out Eligh's DJ, DJ Fresh. Honestly, I haven't seen DJ Fresh live, but he's one of the best producers right now from the perpetually thriving Bay Area hip-hop scene. He's got this knack for adapting '80s R&B into modern day slappers, and he's actually been working with San Diego's rap heavyweight Mitchy Slick on a new album (early leaks sound dope). If you wanna go out and show how much you're down with slept-on music, go fawn over DJ Fresh at Winston's.
For you Antisocial Loners: just go to Access Hip-Hop and pick up Vernon Bridges's Wrought of Chaos. Stay at home on Friday and listen to this on repeat a few times. It's one of the best local hip-hop releases this year, probably neck-and-neck with Parker & the Numberman's award-winning Clockwork Slang for my favorite. You can read a more extensive review here.
Quan Vu Quan Vu is the founder and editor of local music blog SD Raps.com. He has also written about local and national hip-hop acts for San Diego CityBeat and the San Diego Reader. You can nerd out on rap trivia by becoming BFF's on Facebook or e-mailing him directly.