"It started off with Crucial DJing around campus," Fidel recalls. "We were putting out mixtapes, he had me come over, and we recorded a mix and have worked together ever since. It grew into a label a year or two later."

Since then, the collective has come to include a broad array of local artists, including Serengeti, Nato Caliph, Altered St8s of Consciousness, Bits N Pieces and the Earthworms.

"We were like the Carbondale Wu-Tang," Fidel jokes. "Or the Jimi Hendrix Experience, if you think about how we crossed racial and cultural lines."

Before the Friday-night party, everybody chills out.
Before the Friday-night party, everybody chills out.


F5 Records' Anniversary Show at the Gramophone
10 p.m. Saturday, February 21.
The Gramophone, 4243 Manchester Avenue.
$5. 314-531-5700.

In 2000, Fidel moved to Los Angeles. In addition to pursuing a career in music, he has established himself as a successful painter in the LA art world, working under the moniker Frohawk Two-Feathers. He says that his adaptation to life in LA helped inspire the primary theme of Friday Night.

"I saw a lot of people really doing a bunch of blow," Hi-Fidel says. "I was like, Man, so this is it. But really [the] city [in Night is] a mixture of LA, Chicago and Miami. It's a composite type of city and composite characters. The bigger the city, the more you see it, but that doesn't mean that it's not going everywhere."

Ultimately, though, Friday Night is effective because of how it intertwines subtle character development with absurd narrative. The plot twists in the last few songs work because of foreshadowing and attention to detail which appear earlier on the record. For instance, a girl Hi-Fidel compliments on her tan and "neck-down niceness" in the midst of a drugged and drunken stupor, becomes "flat-chested" and "whorish and orange" when the high wears off.

"All these albums that I've made, I wanted to tell a story," Hi-Fidel says. "But I've never been able to tell it as concise and with as much energy and vigor and humor as I have with this one."

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