It’s taking everything I have right now not to open this column with an André 3000 lyric from The Love Below... and I will not succeed, because LOVE WILL RULE SUPREME and CUPID WILL NOT BE DEFEATED! Whew. Now that I got that out of my system, “Happy Valentine’s Day/Every day the 14th.” Here are four local hip-hop and R&B events that will delight you (and your valentine) this February.
Chuck Inglish, Reva DeVito
This show is Reva DeVito’s Third Annual Valentine’s Day Jumper at Holocene, and it’s also one of the best Valentine’s Day events in town. In addition to her solo work, DeVito is one-half of Umii, her collaborative project with producer B. Bravo. In 2017, the duo put out a groovy album called This Time, with stellar singles like “Dangerous” and “Masquerade.” Though DeVito is playing this show on her own, it provides an opportunity to perform new material backed by a live band. Chuck Inglish of the Cool Kids will be playing a beat set, and supposedly will also perform a couple songs with Reva DeVito’s band. This is pretty much guaranteed to be a lovely evening, but what if the Last Artful, Dodgr showed up and performed her featured verse from Umii’s “Don’t Let Up (Remix)”? Whether you’re single or attached on February 14, this show is sure to leave you satisfied. (Thurs Feb 14, 8:30 pm, Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison, $10-12; w/DJs Barisone, Lamar Leroy, Everyday Mixtapes)
The first time I learned of Ella Mai’s existence, she was captivating a Portland crowd while opening for R&B singer Kehlani back in 2017. I wasn’t familiar with her recordings, but I instantly loved the sound of her live vocals over hip-hop-infused production. Unsurprisingly, I was also drawn to her relaxed and sporty sense of style, expertly laid baby hairs, and overall adorable demeanor. Ella Mai’s low, sultry voice and catchy lyrics have garnered her widespread acclaim over the last year or so. If you’re a relatively new fan of the English singer, you’re probably familiar with her recent hits “Trip” and “Boo’d Up” (which won the Grammy for Best R&B Song of the Year). (Fri Feb 15, 8:30 pm, Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside, sold out, all ages)
The Last Artful, Dodgr, Maarquii, Karma Rivera
Save for a couple of singles and collabs, Portland artist the Last Artful, Dodgr has been fairly quiet music- and performance-wise as of late, but that’s pretty typical of someone working on their next big project. Last year Dodgy released “Win Is Enough,” one of the best songs to come out of Portland in 2018; was featured on “Casual,” the lead single from Chanti Darling’s RNB Vol. 1 project; and even graced Anderson .Paak’s Oxnard album by laying down vocals for “Anywhere” alongside Snoop Dogg. She hasn’t been playing around town much lately, so tonight these back-to-back shows are the place to be. And since the bill includes high femme rapper/singer Maarquii and fellow MC Karma Rivera, the level of lit-dom is gonna be off the charts. (Sat Feb 16, 5 pm, 9 pm 21 & up, Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside, $12-15; w/White Lotus all ages)
Amenta Abioto Sounds Like Portland
I just can’t shut my trap when it comes to Amenta Abioto, whose work is a fluid combination of jazz, hip-hop, soul, and African music. Earlier this month the singer/songwriter released a gorgeous, mystical music video for her single “Plant It,” exploring themes of environmentalism, the connection between humans and nature, and manifesting your dreams. To see her perform live is a real treat—Abioto has been at the top of her game recently, having perfected her soul-stirring vocals, improvised song-construction, and spot-on comedic timing. Come see her play unreleased songs like “Kujichagulia,” “Wade,” and “Revolution,” and then start the countdown until her next show. (Tues Feb 26, 6:30 pm, Portland Center Stage at the Armory, 128 NW 11th, FREE, all ages)