Asamov | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader
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I gave this Florida crew's debut, And Now . . . (6 Hole), the number-eight spot on my 2005 top-ten list, but I should've put it higher up--maybe even above Kanye and all his Grammys. It's the best feel-good hip-hop to come out in the past couple years--less a get-up-and-shake-it record than the kind of thing you'd want to sit down and listen to a couple times through, preferably after you've lit a fatty. Even the guests are great, including big guns like Mr. Lif, Akrobatik, J-Live, and Wordsworth, one of tonight's headliners. Asamov's four members--Basic, J-One-Da, Willie Evans Jr., and Therapy--all rhyme, and the latter two produce most of the group's tracks, creating a warm, airy, upbeat feel that has a distinctly salutary effect on a worried brain. Just when you've settled into a mellow mood, though, they'll slap you with something aggressive like "Seven" or "Fem Fems." (Well, relatively aggressive anyway--these guys are still kittens next to somebody like Immortal Technique.) Nobody here wastes a moment on the mike--they pack in playful, well-executed rhymes with a kind of stamina that reminds me of the Arsonists circa As the World Burns. (One of my favorites is from "Hookslide": "I'm fortified--call you out, leave you mortified / Niggas scared to play me out, like their rarest 45.") You need almost as much stamina just to keep up with these MCs, but the music's no less agreeable if you relax and let the words flow past. It's hard to give this record enough props, but maybe this will come close: on every single track, both the beats and the lyrics are stellar. How many hip-hop albums can you say that about? Wordsworth and Percee P headline; Earatik Statik, Tableek, Asamov, Culturama, and Prime open. Mon 3/6, 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $7 in advance, $9 at the door, 18+.

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