The Molemen are to Chicago hip-hop what Eddie Murphy was to The Nutty Professor: they’re everywhere, even when you don’t realize it. Founded in 1991 and still going strong, the crew has played multiple starring and supporting roles both in the local scene and abroad. PNS, Memo, and crew leader Panik (formerly His-Panik) are best known as producers, and have collaborated with the likes of Aesop Rock, Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Slug, and MF Doom; last year PNS demonstrated his beat wizardry on Showcase Production Music, and fellow Moleman Vakill showed off his knack for baroque wordplay on The Darkest Cloud (both released by the crew’s own label). Since then the Molemen have put out a remixed and remastered version of their classic 2001 LP, Ritual of the…, and released the 12th disc in Panik’s instrumental series, The Cop Show Themes (sample titles: “Dark Alley Action,” “Police Brutality Interlude”). Panik favors stuttering loops and a thick, atmospheric sound that evokes the mean streets of Kojak’s New York: clipped vocal samples, tinkling piano, and 70s strings and horn riffs ride atop bass lines that bounce like an old Ford Crown Victoria with bad struts, and the beats are dogged and insistent but as laid-back as Telly Savalas. Somebody should hook Panik up with the folks at Rockstar Games–“Molemen Radio” would sound great as one of the stations in the next version of Grand Theft Auto. $10 in advance, $12 day of show; all ages. Friday, June 18, 6 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Flack.