Gift of Gab
Tues Aug 31
Berbati's Pan
10 SW 3rd

Gift of Gab is the emcee for Blackalicious, a duo that stands among the elite of Bay Area's underground hiphop. Recognized for raps that are dense in their rhythms and packed with concepts usually found in cultural theory books, Gift of Gab is a social critic, a formal and organic intellectual, and a futurist. He is also a big fan of the Northwest's brand of moody hiphop, which he believes is underused, underappreciated, and more than ready to take its place on the national stage. He recorded his solo CD, Fourth Dimensional Rocketships Going Up, in Seattle with production work by two of the city's local beat creators, Jake One and Vitamin D.

Released earlier this summer to impressive commercial and critical results, the record is nothing like Blackalicious' music, which has a funk that feels raw and sparse, like the old school hiphop of Kurtis Blow and Spoonie G. Going Up is ultimately more soulful than funky: the bass is heavy, the drums are warm, the melodies are intricately designed and richly layered.

"That's what I was looking for," says Gift of Gab. "I don't listen to music the way a producer does. I'm interested in the emotions that a track can bring out. The things it inspires me to think about, or want to say. When I worked with Vitamin D and Jake One, there was a certain chemistry. The music made me say things that I could only say in that situation and not in others."

Three years ago, Chief Xcel of Blackalious found and signed Portland's now much-admired Lifesavas to his and DJ Shadow's label, Quannum. When asked about this growing connection between Quannum and the Northwest, Gift of Gab answers, "With us it's really about whoever is dope. If you are dope, then we reach out to you. It's not about where you are from--it just so happens that there is a whole lot of talent in the Northwest that is untapped, and we want to tap it."