Quannum World Tour | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Quannum World Tour

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In "Rat Race," from Gift of Gab's new album, Fourth Dimensional Rocketships Going Up, the Bay Area MC boasts, "All the bull stops here / I'm the matador / Here to introduce a new rap categor'." But when his red cape stops waving at the end of the set, the status quo of underground hip-hop stands unbloodied. Still, Gab (aka Tim Parker, best known as half of Blackalicious) delivers deft wordplay on the standard themes--institutional racism, nostalgia for hip-hop's simpler past, and swaggering assertions of his rap bona fides. On "Stardust" he spits rhymes like an AK-47, while on "Moonshine" he leavens his braggadocio with some humanizing self-doubt. And Seattle producers Jake One and Vitamin D have crafted a tasty array of soul-drenched tracks for him, embellished with unexpected sounds ranging from a cyclical kalimba riff to a French horn bass line. Last year's Spirit in Stone, the debut from Oregon trio Lifesavas, didn't reinvent rap either, but the fluid flow of MCs Vursatyl and Jumbo the Garbageman bridged the stuttery consonance of dancehall and the liquid phrasing of jazz, heightening the musicality of snapping beats composed by the group and Chief Xcel of Blackalicious. On "Hellohihey," Vursatyl plays both himself and an outrageously arrogant MC who, in a clever twist, is revealed to be his own ego. These acts appear as part of a terrific showcase for the killer indie imprint Quannum Projects. The full lineup is Blackalicious, DJ Shadow, Gift of Gab, Joyo Velarde, DJ D Sharp, Latryx, Lateef & the Chief, Lifesavas, and Lyrics Born. 18 and over. Saturday, April 10, 9 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage; 773-929-5959 or 312-559-1212.

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