Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Arrested Development/Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy/Me Phi Me



These three acts represent the flowering of post-De La Soul hip hop. While each are in a strict sense rap artists, their deliberate injection of such elements as pure pop, free jazz, found or acoustic instruments, psychedelia, and (at last) a sophisticated but stiff radical political sensibility into the groovy basics of the music promises something futuristic, almost utopian. Arrested Development boast the toughest beats and densest mix, and bruit about the hardest issues as well, from fierce essays on sexual politics to a blistering attack on politically passive black churches. The Disposable Heroes' viciously punning front man, Michael Franti, raps like Gil Scott-Heron on speed over a jazzy landscape of spacious beats and weird instruments courtesy of slumming industrialist Rono Tse. And Me Phi Me pulls off an unlikely triumph with a dreamy, acoustic-guitar-based groove put to the service of a luscious, sparkling sense of melody: his debut is unquestionably the loveliest rap album ever recorded. The symbolic importance of this bill--three cutting-edge (if not very threatening) rap acts in the heart of the north side--shouldn't be overlooked: if the artists can pull off the show and an audience turns up to hear them, it'll make that utopianism seem just a little less farfetched--and make for more shows like it in the future. Do I hear PM Dawn at the Vic? Wednesday, 7:30 PM, Cabaret Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.

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