The ten best concerts in Denver this weekend
7. BLACKALICIOUS @ MARQUIS THEATER | FRI, 1/18/13
Chief Xcel and Gift of Gab, the duo behind Blackalicious, have been together since the early '90s. The Craft, the act's third full-length, released on the Anti- imprint in 2005, is a first-rate forum for their formidable skills. Throughout, the music blends live instrumentation with canny borrowings, and the arrangements often juxtapose the Gabby One's incisive couplets with soulful singing by contributors such as Joy King, whose wailing lifts "World of Vibrations," the striking opener, into the stratosphere. This approach might strike some listeners as old-fashioned, and there's something to that; George Clinton's cameo on the slinky "Lotus Flower" fits right in. On the other hand, the substance at the heart of "Black Diamonds and Pearls," a street tale that ends with a ray of hope, not a jolt from an electric chair, is so retro that it feels positively fresh. (Blackalicious is also due at the Belly Up in Aspen on Saturday, January 19, and the Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins on Sunday, January 20.)
6. DEAD PREZ @ ORIENTAL THEATER | FRI, 1/18/13
Dead Prez MC Stic.man rightly pegged his group as "somewhere in between N.W.A. and P.E." on the thumping "I'm a African" from the turn-of-the-millenium classic Let's Get Free. The duo (completed by fellow lyricist M1) took the street-level rage of N.W.A., filtered it through the socio-political lens of Public Enemy and finished it off with a touch of Native Tongues-crew Afrohumanism. Later on, their message became less focused (both lyrically or musically) and perhaps less powerful than it was on Let's Get Free (Stic.man's newer material, for example, mainly consists of him talking about staying clean and hitting the gym), but Dead Prez still stands as one of the most effective and intelligent groups to emerge from the East Coast conscious rap renaissance of the late nineties/early aughts. Look forward to hearing well-known material along side newer joints off Information Age, the act's latest.
5. SP DOUBLE @ GOTHIC THEATRE | SAT, 1/19/13
SP Double just wants to keep it moving. The MC (aka Adrian Perlman) has endured his share of personal travails and had enough beef with other rappers to fill a warehouse. But all of that's in the rearview now; he'd rather focus on what's ahead. Just the same, he's smart enough to know that the road to the future is paved in the past -- a past once littered with bitterness and disappointments. And until he made peace with that past, he couldn't move forward. But he's not here to stir up hard feelings that have long since softened. He's already said everything he had to say in the booth -- plainly, eloquently, directly. This Saturday, he celebrates the release of his latest effort LHRII (The Prequel), with a stellar supporting cast that includes Mr. Midas, Signature Music Group, Kold Reality and Ray Reed with DJ KTone, plus a pair of comedians, Courtney Bang Rice and Derrick Culver, a trio of DJs, Chonz, DJ SiFi and Deejai Durty Sanchez, and an MC battle between Vitol and AceOutrageous. [continue on to read full SP Double profile]