STYLES OF BEYOND
Hip-hop’s persistence on the Billboard pop charts means it’s not just city kids spending money on the stuff: these days Master P is as much a mainstream icon as Mr. T was 15 years ago. Yet while the hip-hop nation has been incorporating the suburbs, the image of hip-hop artists has remained overwhelmingly urban. Flying in the face of this convention, Styles of Beyond rappers Takbir and Ryu proudly tout their roots in the San Fernando Valley–the suburban Los Angeles wasteland parodied by Moon Unit Zappa around the time The A-Team was popular. “Winnetka Exit,” from their debut, 2000 Fold (Ideal), gives props to their sprawling hood, while other songs celebrate middle-American fixations like video games (“Killer Instinct”) and peaceful alien visitations (“Gollaxowelcome”). No pimpin’ or dopin’ goin’ on here, but the music’s as street tough as it gets: the album’s six producers–including Rhettmatic of the World Famous Beat Junkies and the legendary Divine Styler–take the duo from the straight-up, lean breaks on “Spies Like Us” to more frenetic workouts like “Muuvon,” where the classic Nile Rodgers guitar lick from Chic’s “Good Times” gets minced and reconstituted into an addictive, spasmodic groove. Sonic density distinguishes it from the work of the old Native Tongues crew, but it’s hard not to hear traces of De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest in Styles of Beyond’s fast-moving hodgepodge. Toronto’s inexplicably popular pop-hop group Len headlines. Thursday, October 7, 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203. Peter Margasak
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Mike Riscitelli.