Tuesday, June 27, 2017
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Review: Concert

""Don't let money change ya!"" proclaimed Blackalicious at their show on Nov. 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 are 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 show all year.

Blackalicious' ""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 graspable until seen in the flesh.

Gift of Gab performed the infamous song ""A to G"" from the 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 get so swift that they seemingly trip over themselves. However, Gab maintains his breath and pronunciation, though the crowd has to take a deep breath after this performance. His variety in pitch and meter is very distinctive, and matched with Xcel's vintage beats and sampling from the '70s and '80s makes 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 based in his endless talent and repertoire.

Gab is not the only one with shining talent. Gab's partner MC, Lateef, has a lyrical style 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 compliments and contrasts with Gab's.

Another highlight of the show was Erinn Anova, whose soulful and powerful voice weaves through the songs and gives emotional punch to their choruses. This trio of innovators never disappoints its audiences.

The performances of ""Deception"" and ""You Didn't Know That Though"" show off the inventiveness of the group's lyrics and beats, which are influenced by tribal sounds and synthesized instruments. The driving rhythms of these songs, along with sing-song choruses, got the members of the crowd involved and bobbing their heads.

Gab and Lateef even did a flow over the beats from the legendary Roger & Zapp. As a contrast to the other beat-heavy songs, ""Shallow Days"" and ""If I May"" are contemplative pieces that flow like storytelling. These lyrics are smart and personal narratives that keep the crowd interested and emotionally connected.

The show was 18 and up, a rare occurrence in San Diego. Because most people 21 and older argue that an 18 and up age requirement 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 formed, and kids were practically on top of each other to be near the front.

It was exciting to have San Diego host a group such 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 airwaves today.

-- Chako Suzuki

The Hiatus Calendar

Thursday

The performers of Lower Left will use mud, water and their sense of brutal sincerity for their performance and dance act at Sushi Performance & Visual Art in San Diego. There will be strong language and nudity. The show will run through Dec. 3 and again from Dec. 8 to Dec. 10. Call (619) 235-8468 for more information.

Check out ""Gynomite: Fearless Feminist Porn!"" at Dizzy's in downtown San Diego. Eight intelligent and sexy women will tell their stories about sex. The event starts at 8 p.m. and there is a $5 cover charge. Call (858) 270-7467 for more information.

Check out some of the best in indie rock at the Che Cafe on the UCSD campus just east of the Theatre District. Songs: Ohio will headline and will be supported by Damien Jurado, Paris TX and Kind of Like Spitting. The show begins at 8 p.m. and tickets are $6. Call (858) 534-2311 for more information.

Friday

Digital Underground will perform at the Belly Up Tavern. The show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are $15. Call the Belly Up at (858) 481-8140 for more information.

Saturday

Ska-Punk? Punk-Ska? Take your pick when the Aquabats perform at Canes Bar & Grill. The show kicks off at 7 p.m. and tickets cost $12. Call Canes form ore information at (858) 488-9690.

The incredible voice of Dave Wakeling which once led the English Beat and General Public can be heard at the Belly Up Tavern. The show starts a 9 p.m. Call (619) 220-TIXS for more information.

Beatlemania Returns to Theaters

We all know being a rock star is tough. Even before VH-1 dared to go ""Behind the Music,"" director Richard Lester took a light-hearted approach to the rockumentary when he made a movie about four young lads from Liverpool trying to survive the fast-paced road to stardom.

Part comedy, part adventure, and part musical, ""A Hard Day's Night"" captures John, Paul, George and Ringo in the midst of Beatlemania. It was 1964 when movie houses packed with screaming teenage fans first showed this classic Beatle film.

The Fab Four had just invaded America and the question troubling every young girl was: Which one is cuter, John or Paul?

The soundtrack, which features ""Can't Buy Me Love,"" ""I'm Happy Just to Dance With You,"" and of course ""A Hard Day's Night,"" was often drowned out by the uncontrollable wailing of devoted fans.

Thirty-six years later, Miramax Films will re-release a fully restored version of ""A Hard Day's Night,"" just in time for Christmas.

The re-release of ""A Hard Day's Night"" was originally planned for September of 1999 but was pushed back because of the August 1999 re-release of another Beatle movie, ""Yellow Submarine."" It was then slated to hit theaters in October 2000, but Miramax pushed the release date back once again to coincide with release of other Beatle merchandise, such as the new ""Beatles 1"" compilation album and the Beatles Anthology book.

""A Hard Day's Night"" will finally hit theaters Dec. 1 in New York and Los Angeles, and then Dec. 8 nationwide.

As the sons and daughters of baby boomers, many of us have heard stories about the first time our parents saw ""A Hard Day's Night."" It is hard to believe that those doe-eyed, pre-teen Beatlemaniacs who have been preserved for posterity on old footage of the Ed Sullivan Show actually grew up to invest in mutual funds and retirement pensions. But if you have ever wondered what became of those screaming Beatle fans, they probably became your parents.

So what better way to spend quality time with them this holiday season then by showing them you're hip to their kind of music?

OK, perhaps that is a bad idea, considering taking your mom to see ""A Hard Day's Night"" might unleash some very unwelcome nostalgia trips. However, the chance to see this award-winning piece of pop culture in the theaters should not be passed up.

This glimpse into history shows rock 'n' roll when it was still innocent, and gives insight into that all-important question: Who is your favorite Beatle?

Celebrating the Holidays South of the Border

With the holiday season approaching, it is important to realize that not all cultures ring in the new year by decorating a dead tree and leaving milk and cookies for an overweight burglar in a red jumpsuit. In fact, our neighbors just south of the border have a very different way of celebrating Christmas and the new year.

While Christmas in the United States is generally celebrated on Dec. 25, the Mexican holiday celebration stretches from Dec. 16 to Jan. 6. It is not uncommon for many Mexicans to take the two weeks before Christmas off of work or school in order to spend more time with family and friends and to celebrate the holiday, according to http://www.mexonline.com.

The Posadas are one of the best-known holiday traditions in Mexico. There is one held each night for the nine nights prior to Christmas Eve. While the literal translation of ""posada"" is ""home,"" ""shelter"" or ""inn,"" the Posadas are dramatized re-enactments of Saint Joseph and the Virgin Mary's search for a place to stay and give birth to the baby Jesus.

In older celebrations of the Posadas, a young boy and girl were chosen to represent the two biblical figures. In modern celebrations, groups of people walk around with candles. They visit three houses and ask for a place to stay by singing a traditional question-and-response song. The first two houses deny them access, while the third house welcomes the group inside for festivities.

When the group is finally welcomed into the third house, it gathers around a manger scene and offers songs of welcome called Ave Marias.

While the more religious celebrators of the Posadas may pray when the third house lets them in, the event has evolved into a party. The festivities usually include refreshments and dancing. The adults are served a thick punch that usually contains a little alcohol to keep out the cold.

Often, the party also includes a pinata, which is very popular among children. The pinata is filled with candy and toys, and is usually hung from a tree.

The celebration is said to have originated in 1587, according to the Internet system of the presidency of Mexico, located online at http://world.presidencia.gob.mx. According to the Web site, it was then that Friar Diego de Soria obtained a Papal Bull from Pope Sixtus V to celebrate ""Aguinaldo,"" the Christmas gift Masses that ran from Dec. 16 through Dec. 24 in what was New Spain.

The Masses, which were held in the church atriums and designed to convert patrons before Christmas, were filled with scenes that alluded to Christmas. The Augustinian missionaries used fireworks, sparklers, Christmas carols and pinatas to attract crowds. These festive celebrations evolved into the modern celebration.

The ritual is continued until Christmas Eve, when another verse is added to the Ave Marias that tells the Virgin Mary that the night has come to give birth to baby Jesus. The children are dressed as shepherds and stand beside the nativity scene while members of the company kneel and sing. The ritual is concluded by rocking the baby Jesus to sleep with the cradle song ""El Rorro,"" which means ""Babe in Arms.""

After the last of the Posadas, worshippers go to church to attend the ""Misa de Gallo"" or the ""Mass of the Rooster."" This is the first Mass of Christmas Day and is traditionally celebrated with fireworks, ringing bells and blowing whistles to announce the birth of Jesus.

The Mass is followed by a large dinner of traditional Mexican foods, including tamales, rice, rellenos, atole (a sweet traditional drink) and medudo, which is said to be more sobering than a strong cup of coffee.

Celebration of the holiday on Christmas Day itself also differs from the American celebration. While Americans traditionally celebrate the day with a Christmas tree and presents, Mexicans usually do not do anything special on Dec. 25. However, recent trends have Mexicans integrating the American celebration of Christmas trees and Santa Claus into their traditional celebrations.

In Mexican tradition, presents are not distributed until Jan. 6, the Dia de Reyes, which means the ""Day of the Kings."" This day, also called the Epiphany, is supposed to coincide with the twelfth night of Christmas. This is the day on which it is believed the three wise men brought gifts to Jesus.

'Horns Wings and More Tales'

""Performance art ... that usually involves getting naked and smearing stuff on your body, right?"" a student queried earlier this week, looking at the postcard ad for ""Horns Wings and More Tales."" The ad featured a black and white photo of a dancer superimposed on an attention-getting red background. True to the title, the dancers appear at various moments in the program with wings, horns and even (yes) their tails bare as they artfully spin a tale of the female experience in our culture.

Courtesy of Lower Left

The Lower Left dance company has reprised the popular ""Horns Wings and Tales,"" a powerful mish-mash of dance and performance art first performed in 1998. ""Horns Wings and More Tales"" opens tonight with ""Moving Violations"" for a seven-night, two-weekend run at Sushi Visual and Performance Art Space downtown.

The show presents a series of subtly related vignettes featuring such characters as Hairy Woman, Monster Girl and Nordstrom Woman. Through monologues and movement, the five performers bring to light the ways in which American women chafe under, cope with, and (somewhat) escape from the inherent patriarchy of our culture. The women of Lower Left are not afraid to be both poetic and aggressive, and they present a stunning piece of work.

Between mud, water, spelunking equipment, flying harnesses, crazy-but-logical monologues, glue-on body hair, and of course dance, this show covers vulgarity, beauty, anger, repressed pain and hope. Something for everyone? Not for those who seek to avoid challenges to the status quo. Viewers of previous performances have been heard uttering phrases such as ""life-changing"" and ""phenomenal.""

Opening the evening is a dance crazy with movement called ""Moving Violations."" First choreographed by Nina Martin of Lower Left in the mid-eighties, it was revived for this year's Trolley Dances and expanded for this performance. In addition to learning Martin's choreography, the dancers worked together under her direction to create the fastest, most hair-raising quintets they could, crammed to capacity with lifts, jumps, flailing limbs and half-controlled falls.

Numerous UCSD dancers and alumni are performing in the show. Alumna and UCSD Recreation gymnastics instructor Margaret Paek will be seen in both pieces. Also, over a third of the huge cast of ""Moving Violations"" comes from UCSD. Look for undergraduate Lindsay Sworski, graduate student Jean Steiner and alumni Todd Bennett, Jean Dugan, Hannah Griffith and Andrew Wass. Such a strong UCSD presence in the post-modern dance community is noteworthy, especially considering that the dance department here tends more toward the modern dance vein.

With seven performances in two weekends, UCSD students have no excuses for not going to ""Horns Wings and More Tales."" This may be a crazy time, between finals and getting home for vacation, but so what -- you'd regret missing this amazing performance.

Sushi is located on 11th Avenue, between J and K streets. Tickets for ""Horns Wings and More Tales"" are $15, $12 for students and $10 for Sushi members. Call (619) 235-8466 for information or reservations.

Arena

Interviews by Malavika Gangolly * Photography by Tyler Huff

Holiday Movie Preview

With over 30 scheduled films this holiday season, Hollywood is trying to make up for what was a poor summer in terms of film quality. This year's films range from towering mountains to desolate islands, from slapstick comedy to serious dramas. While some have the potential to be great films, others are probably going to be clear misses. Besides the usual blockbusters, December will be filled with Hollywood and independent films alike contending for Oscars. Here is a look at some of the more anticipated films in store for this season:

Vertical Limit

Dec. 8

Starring: Chris O'Donnell, Bill Paxton, Robin Tunney, Scott Glenn, Izabella Scorupco, Temuera Morrison and Stuart Wilson.

A climber, Peter Garrett (O'Donnell), must make a treacherous climb up K2, the world's second highest peak, in order to save his sister, who is stranded on the mountain. Garrett must confront his personal problems and his surroundings before it is too late.

Outlook: Unfortunately, this film has all the looks and feelings of ""Cliffhanger."" The plot seems that of a typical action/disaster film, one that does not try too hard to get the brain working and that is uninspired. O'Donnell's only experience in major action films so far consists of the ""Batman"" series, so he is probably not a good fit for the role of an extreme mountain climber.

The Emperor's New Groove

Dec. 15

Starring: David Spade, John Goodman, Eartha Kitt and Patrick Warburton.

This animated film takes place in a mythical mountain kingdom where a young, arrogant emperor named Kuzco (voiced by Spade) is transformed into a llama by one of his advisers. Kuzco's only hope of returning home lies with a good-natured peasant named Pacha. Kuzco begins the adventure back to his kingdom while realizing the errors of his previous ways of life.

Outlook: With a low budget, ""The Emperor's New Groove"" is more of a second-rate project than the usual quality films made by Disney's animators. With both a weak script and lack of major star power, this film will do only somewhat well, and only because the name Disney is attached to the project. The movie will only appeal to those obsessed with Disney films.

Dude, Where's My Car?

Dec. 15

Starring: Ashton Kutcher, Seann William Scott, Jennifer Garner, Marla Sokoloff and Kristy Swanson.

When two dudes wake up from a party, they find that they have forgotten what happened the previous night. All they know is that they are missing their car and that their girlfriends are mad at them for trashing a house and forgetting an anniversary. Now it is up to them to make up with the girls and to find their car.

Outlook: Dude, where's the brain of whoever made this film? Some films are made to be instant classics; this is not one of them. The idea of teen-in-trouble, teen-fixes-problem is not new and has run out of steam. This film is another cheap teen flick made only in the pursuit of not a car, but money.

The Family Man

Dec. 15

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Tea Leoni, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Piven, Amber Valletta and Harve Presnell.

Living in New York City, Jack Campbell (Cage) is a man who lives the fast life. This changes one morning when he wakes up to find himself with Kate (Leoni), a woman he never married, and with two kids he never fathered. This alternate life is one that Campbell had the opportunity to begin when he was in college, but rejected it by rejecting Kate. Campbell must make the difficult task of adjusting to his new role as a loving husband and father.

Outlook: ""The Family Man"" is shaping out to be a modern ""It's A Wonderful Life"" that adds to the endless amount of holiday films. With a good script, this film could be one of the better films this holiday season. The ""what if"" plot makes this film a pleasant, sentimental experience that will appeal to most but may be too sappy for some.

Miss Congeniality

Dec. 22

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Benjamin Bratt, Michael Caine and William Shatner.

An unpolished and geeky FBI agent, Gracie Hart (Bullock), must change not only her looks but also her mannerisms for an undercover assignment as a beauty pageant contestant in order to stop a terrorist attack. Hart must not only endure the torturous process of a complete makeover, but also ensure safety at the beauty pageant.

Outlook: This film looks like a decent comedy, with Bullock playing the role of an ugly ducking that becomes a beautiful woman. With the mockery of pageants as a focus and Bullock as a star, this movie is likely to bring out some laughs from what is an otherwise ordinary script.

Cast Away

Dec. 22

Starring: Tom Hanks and Helen Hunt.

Chuck Noland (Hanks) is a man who is always obsessed with the time and his job as a FedEx engineer.

When Noland becomes stranded on a remote island, he must deal with the harsh environment in order to survive. The film deals with Noland's attempt to overcome his physical and psychological ordeals in order to survive and live off the uninhabited island.

Outlook: This film is one of the most anticipated films this holiday season. The teaming of ""Forrest Gump"" director Robert Zemeckis and Hanks will result in a film that is powerfully moving. Hanks, who has shown he has box office might, has not only the ability but also the drive to play a man isolated from all. The film is not just a standard action flick; it's one that challenges the mind and the capability of the soul.

What Women Want

Dec. 15

Starring: Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt, Marisa Tomei, Lauren Holly and Bette Midler.

Nick Marshall (Gibson) gets a new look at life when he has the ability to read the minds of women. This ability proves to be overwhelming for Marshall as he is saturated by the thoughts of what every woman desires. Marshall uses the power to try to outsmart his boss Darcy McGuire (Hunt), but in the process, falls in love and truly understands what all women want.

Outlook: This movie is probably the date flick of the season. With so many stars involved, the movie has the potential to be a strong pull at the box office. The clever idea of the film will make it a good one to watch, but probably not enough to make it a standout.

Get More Than Just Blockbusters for Your Buck

In the constant search for the unique and wonderful, look no further than Blockbuster Video's ""Pre-Viewed"" movie section. With a little time and a little money, you can invest in your own movie collection, with a surprising selection of low-cost gems.

In this section, you'll find hundreds of titles from every movie genre. The idea is pretty simple: The store gets multiple copies of a video when it is a new release, the title moves over to another shelf when it is no longer a new release, and they sell the rest off, which means a good buy for you.

The first thing to keep in mind with any bargain hunt is that you must be willing to invest some time in looking. You are liable to find the prospect somewhat daunting, so here's a breakdown of the pricing.

All movies for sale are priced according to how recently they were released and their general popularity. So the older and lesser-known films are the best deals here.

To find movies good for when you are extremely bored or stoned, you can browse the $2.99 section. Be forewarned that most of these are movies that no one has ever heard of. But considering their current sale, which offers $2 off any previously viewed movie, this option is tantalizing.

We'll start at the low end. For $3.33, I found ""Corporate Fantasy,"" a 1999 ultra-soft-core porn, the kind that only a family video store would carry. It was so lame that not even the Fox network would show it. If not for its shits-and-giggles value, this movie would never leave the store.

Moving up to $5 movies, there is a dynamic improvement in the quality of movies available. From a 1995 MTV series comes ""AEon Flux,"" a futuristic cartoon sci-fi with a lot of sexual overtones. AEon Flux is an agent for the fictional, communist country of Bregna and she has a love/hate/kill relationship with Trevor Goodchild, an opposing nation's leader. Goodchild is incredibly evil and that turns Flux on and pisses her off, so her goal is to kill him or sleep with him. Most know this show for the mega-gore factor and the surreal twists that completely lose you. It's definitely a cult classic in the making.

Other notable titles include ""Drop Dead Gorgeous,"" ""The Corndog Man,"" ""Titanic"" (shudder), and ""Welcome To Woop Woop."" The last title is directed by Stephan Elliot, the same guy who made ""The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.""

""Welcome to Woop Woop"" is a bizarre contribution to the arts from Down Under. It's the twisted tale of a New York con artist on the lam in Australia, where he wakes up to find that the hitchhiker he picked up is now his teen-age wife and that her beer-guzzling psycho father is the ruler of a town that no one is allowed to leave. It's something like ""The Addams Family""-meets-Australia on acid. A must for the quirky -- it's odd, but funny, and your friends will think you are some kind of freak for owning movies like this.

Also recommended is Martin Scorsese's latest and strangest, ""Bringing Out The Dead."" It tracks two days in the life of burnt-out paramedic Frank Pierce and his descent into madness and subsequent redemption. It is a very dark and gritty movie and it doesn't always manage to make sense. The plot has a couple of ambulance-sized holes, but Pierce's bizarre partners and his attempts at getting fired keep things interesting. Basically, Pierce can't get past the memories of people he could not save. This film is in the middle of the price range, listing at $7.

Finally, we have the full-priced videos at $14. These are the must-haves, the classics that will not be going down in price, or the movies that you just want now. Two oustanding selections in this group are ""Dune,"" a sci-fi epic, and ""Drowing Mona.""

The latter is a hysterical comedy about dismemberment, semi-accidental death, and covering your ass. Bette Midler gets killed off and everyone in town is a suspect, including her husband and son. Packed with famous faces, you may want to wait for this movie to drop in price.

big mouth strikes again

The Word of Mouth Tour was definitely more ""word of mouth"" this year than last year. If you're not familiar with it, it is a hip-hop tour with an underground aesthetic -- one for people who love the music and the art of hip-hop.

CHAKO SUZUKI/
Guardian

Performing live were MC Supernatural, the Beat Junkies, Dilated Peoples, Cut Chemist, DJ Nu-Mark and Jurassic 5, who were headlining. It was amazing to see how large the turnout was for the two scheduled shows on Nov. 8 and Nov. 9 at the Belly Up Tavern.

Compared to last summer's Word Of Mouth Tour at 4th & B, the house was packed. It seems that Jurassic 5 and Dilated Peoples have rounded up a more diverse fan base since appearing on popular music video channels.

The Beat Junkies kicked off the show with feats of turntablism, followed by Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark, who did a set before introducing Supernatural, who has an impressive talent for freestyling and getting audience participation. His skills for coming up with lyrics on the fly were extraordinary, especially since he asked for words from the audience for his rap ""Three Words"" and ended up with words like ""philharmonic,"" which are not easy to freestyle with.

CHAKO SUZUKI/
Guardian

In another song, he took items from the audience's hands and added them into the rhyme -- random objects such as condoms, Tic Tacs and Advil. His other impressive feat was his right-on impersonations of famous MCs. Every time he turned his back to the audience, he would impersonate Biggie, Xhibit, Wu-Tang or Busta Rhymes. Last year, Supernatural blessed the stage in the Price Center with completely different impersonations.

In part of the song, Supernatural enacted a duet between himself and Biggie and astounded the audience with how well he could impersonate him. Supernatural's performance and energy were amazing. He came back in the end for a rap intro of all the performers in the tour.

The up-and-coming hip-hop duo from Los Angeles, Dilated Peoples, took the stage next. The group consists of Iriscience, Evidence and DJ Babu from the Beat Junkies. Their sound is a bit aggressive and their beats are driving and lucid.

During the summer they released their debut album, titled ""The Platform,"" and released the single ""Triple Optics"" on the ""Funky Precedent"" compilation, which included groups such as Jurassic 5. They amped the crowd with the performance of ""Triple Optics"" and their single ""Work the Angles.""

Dilated Peoples were able to maintain their underground sensibilities -- therefore, much of the crowd was not familiar with their talent. However, the duo kept the audience's heads bobbing with its dynamism, constant movement and overwhelming confidence, which showed through in their lyrics. At the end of their set, Evidence broke a beer bottle over his head as a dare and actually ended up momentarily knocking himself out.

When Jurassic 5 made their appearance, it was obvious whom the majority of the crowd had come to see. Half their set was from their self-titled EP and the other half was from their recently released album ""Quality Control."" The single ""Quality Control"" made the crowd go wild. Surprisingly, their earlier singles, such as ""Jayou"" and ""Concrete Schoolyard"" left most of the crowd a little quiet.

Jurassic 5 delivered the full flavor of their innovative and authentic sound that celebrates music, not money, which is refreshing after all the recent deliverances in hip-hop music.

As usual, Jurassic 5 put on a charismatic performance with their organic sounds, harmonized choruses and their incorporation of different elements of hip-hop.

In one part of the show, break dancers came out, and the show highlighted the talent of DJs Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist, whose extensive collection of rare grooves, instructional and hip-hop music drives Jurassic 5's cutting-edge sound.

DJ Nu-Mark amazed the crowd by playing the drum set, drum machine and the koto, a Japanese stringed instrument. As expected, Jurassic 5's fresh sound, their lyrical talent and supreme beat makers made for an experience that will not be forgotten.

The most disappointing part of the show was not the performance but the audience.

The crowd came to 4th & B last year because it fully appreciated the artists, the music and the underground. This year's fans did not come because they were hyped through popular media like MTV or BET.

Dance circles formed, and the audience knew the lyrics and the members' names when the microphone was pointed at it. At one point, Cut Chemist was telling the audience what songs he had just spun with Nu-Mark: ""The third song is from 'Brand Nubian,' which might be a little underground for some of you."" This insult to the audience probably caused some pleasure for real fans.

To get the crowd hyped up, members of Jurassic 5 did a little stage diving, which turned out dismal in the end. Some audience members ran up on stage to dive, and then one drunken and very large fan dove off the stage and landed on his neck. This ended the show a little sooner than it was supposed to end, with ambulances and rubber necking.

Although the end was a big disappointment, there was no way the performers could disappoint. The Word of Mouth Tour gave insight to old fans and newbies into the way hip-hop is supposed to be and was a good vehicle for delivering the extraordinary talent and innovation of the performers.

If you are looking for related events, check out these upcoming shows at the Belly Up:

All events are 21 and over.

DFH: Every Monday night. Disco, funk and hip-hop spun live for only $8 starting at 9 p.m.

Etta James: Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 17 at 8 p.m. This legendary blues and R&B singer is making two comeback appearances for $35.

Common Sense: Nov. 18 at 9:15 p.m. for $10. San Diego's own ska, reggae and rock band.

Poncho Sanchez: Playing Nov. 22 at 8:30 p.m. for $10. This is the world-famous Latin jazz bongo player. Do not miss!

Goldfish: Nov. 25 at 9:15 p.m. for $7. San Diego's premier funk band and party.

Common: Nov. 29 at 9 p.m. for $20. Chicago native hip-hop MC, known for his extraordinary rhyming and story-telling skills. If you're a fan of hip-hop, a must-see!

Wailing Souls: Nov. 30 at 9 p.m. for $12. Well known reggae duo from Jamaica.

Digital Underground: Dec. 1 at 9:15 p.m. for $15. Old-school hip-hop group that is bound to make you move.

Review: Albums

Guru's Jazzmatazz

""Streetsoul""

MCA Records

C-

Quite a few years back, Anheuser-Busch mounted a huge ad campaign in an attempt to promote responsible drinking. The centerpiece of its campaign was a brilliant slogan that ultimately became embedded in America's collective national consciousness. It went something like this: ""Know when to say when."" Now, I must admit I do not know whether this product of marketing genius was effective for its intended purpose.

In any case, I believe that this phrase should be taken to heart by all, and it should not be exclusively applied to responsible alcohol consumption. It should also be directed toward the continuous, inexcusable production of potentially great -- but ultimately mediocre -- hip-hop recordings. Guru's latest Jazzmatazz endeavor is an excellent example of this sad trend.

Let's be brutally honest for a minute. Everyone knows that Guru has never been a very good MC, but for some reason many people seem hesitant to admit it. Why is that? What do people think they owe him? It is well past time for this shameful facade to end. MCing is a continuously evolving art form, and few can argue that Guru merely has not kept up with the times.

For the most part, Guru's lyrics these days are inane and uninspired, and his flow is often nonexistent. His trademark deadpan voice used to be novel, but now it's just annoying. He is exceedingly arrogant regarding his so-called ""skills"" on the mic, although in most cases it is painfully obvious that if he didn't have Premiere backing him up, he never would have blown up in the first place.

This is not to discredit him entirely, of course. As a part of Gang Starr, Guru has made a significant contibution to hip-hop as a whole, but that's because Gang Starr was a formulaic success that focused and relied mainly on Premiere's beats and production.

Mr. ""Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal"" may have been somewhat lyrically impressive on ""Words I Manifest,"" but he hasn't progressed much since then. All of this might sound too harsh, but it's readily apparent. Just consider your favorite Gang Starr tracks from past albums. Odds are, they're the cuts with the special guests who shined while Guru did his best to avoid ruining the whole damn thing.

Now, to Guru's credit, it should be noted that his first Jazzmatazz album was certainly innovative, groundbreaking and relatively well-done. It spawned a number of commercially successful singles, while stretching rap, R&B and jazz in whole new directions.

The problem is that Guru hasn't been able to follow it up, because he's been too busy promoting himself on the two subsequent Jazzmatazz albums, this one included. On ""Jazzmatazz Vol. 1,"" his vocals seemed to blend almost seamlessly with the guest artist contributions, and more often than not, his vocals were appropriate to the song's subject.

This is not the case any more. Lately, Guru's incessant demand for respect seems to be sabotaging his art, with every other verse or skit on Streetsoul talking about how great he is, whether it's a would-be revolutionary anthem like ""Lift Your Fist"" (featuring the Roots) or a supposed seductive love ballad like ""Night Vision"" (with Isaac Hayes). Simply put, his self-aggrandizing rhymes ruin almost every collaboration on this album -- especially the ones that would have been definite hits if he just toned it down a little.

Maybe that's why I've been so hard on Guru here; it's just too disappointing to hear so many collaborations with respected artists like the Roots, Isaac Hayes and Herbie Hancock go down the toilet thanks to Guru's insipid vocals. The potential was there, and there are a few bright spots on this album, but for the most part, this album is a huge letdown. Friends shouldn't let friends pick this one up.

-- Sky Frostenson


PJ Harvey

""Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea""

Island Records

A

PJ Harvey recently moved to New York and then she wrote an album about it. ""Stories from the City, Stories From the Sea,"" Harvey's latest release on Island Records is littered with references to the Manhattan skyline. Against the backdrop of ""The Empire State Building,"" Harvey traces a love affair that blooms ""on a rooftop in Brooklyn,"" and then wilts on the album's mournful last track.

""Stories"" is one of those albums you have to listen to from start to finish. It is like a novel and it tells a story. The album begins with Harvey longing for ""a different land"" in ""Big Exit."" Harvey and her mysterious companion discover New York with wide-eyed wonderment and fearless enthusiasm, like two tourists who just got a hotel room overlooking Central Park. But their love does not last forever. After the glitter of New York fades, Harvey and her lover go their separate ways as the album concludes with ""Horses in My Dreams"" and finally ""We Float.""

Musically, ""Stories"" is more accessible than past PJ Harvey albums. In the past, Harvey's sense of melody could have been hard to take in. However, ""Stories"" offers a mix of experimental melodies as well as tunes that will have you singing along in your car. The optimistic ""Good Fortune"" sounds oddly reminiscent of Liz Phair's ""Exile in Guyville,"" while ""This Mess We're In,"" on which Radiohead's Thom Yorke adds vocals, is classic Harvey.

Harvey has created an amazing album that has the depth of great literature and the drama of a good movie. ""Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea"" is enough to make you want to hop on a plane and go find New York for yourself.

-- Lindsay Boyd

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