³To all ... the sisters raising kids without the help of a dad, wanting for their children all the things that they never had; all the brothers handlin' business even though shit's hard, wakin' up at 5 a.m., holdin' down three jobs. Let your light keep shinin' and remember the past, by any means necessary, we'll be free at last.² Alluding to both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. in one line at the end of a barrage of couplets, Blackalicious' Gift of Gab writes rhymes that uplift and, like the title of the track, are primarily concerned with ³Making Progress.²Musically, the duo's other half, Chief Xcel, holds it down with stomping, booming, grinding drums and North African or Arabian instrumentation that strums the soul. Out of Oakland and part of the Quannum Projects conglomerate with DJ Shadow and Latyrx, Blackalicious have been lurking about the Bay Area scene since the mid-'90s. Their latest release -- an album titled Nia
(Swahili for ³purpose²) -- left socially conscious rap listeners nationwide smiling at their speakers. The work references many icons of the black-power movement, including a condensed adaptation of the 1973 Nikki Giovanni poem ³Ego Trippin.² The voices of young women chant ³freedom² during interludes, and battle tracks are scattered throughout the album, pure hip-hop woven into the seams of the composition that includes new experiments and old patterns in sonic art.
Opening up the show will be the Anti-Pop Consortium, a trio from New York who break the boundaries of rap to create a new mutation of hip-hop that flows against the mainstream. Don't let the revolution pass you by.