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Two Paths to Crossing Over

Shaggy Cubby Bear, October 29 Terence Trent D’Arby Metro, October 29 Since reggae artist Shabba Ranks’s mainstream success three years ago, dancehall has been searching for its next ambassador. At first, fans had pinned their hopes on Buju Banton and Terror Fabulous. But Banton has pushed aside crossover dreams and firmly ensconced himself in Rastafarian […]

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90s Grit, 70s Groove

D’Angelo Park West, October 22 D’Angelo strolled onto the Park West stage, sat behind a piano, and lowered his cornrowed head. His hair, baggy black shirt, and “Yo Chicago, wahssup!” said pure 90s B-boy, a scion of hip-hop and its beat-loving culture. But when he fingered the piano keys and swaggered into the Ohio Players’ […]

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Teaching Jazz to Rap

Guru’s Jazzmatazz Metro, September 23 When Guru first threaded smooth jazz melodies with hip-hop’s heavy bass lines in Gangstarr’s 1989 single “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” he was taking a risk–jazz fans screamed blasphemy, and hip-hop purists questioned its street credibility. He created an uproar, but he helped set the stage for such groups as […]

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World’s Biggest Bar Band

Hootie & the Blowfish New World Music Theatre, August 13 Despite reaching multiplatinum status and packing stadiums across the country, Hootie & the Blowfish are nothing more than a bar band. But that’s their appeal. Their music is uncomplicated, catchy, and familiar. While the charts are increasingly dominated by angst-ridden groups that often strive to […]

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Bad Attitude

The Pharcyde Metro, August 10 Three years ago the Pharcyde was one of the first hip-hop bands that dared to rap surreal, silly lyrics instead of nihilistic, violent ones. Rather than posing with menacing stares, they had a cartoonish demeanor. They sampled jazz from Donald Byrd, Ramsey Lewis, and John Coltrane before hip-hop was “cool […]

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African Roots: The Shallow and the Deep

Reggae Sunsplash Skyline Stage, June 27 Africa Fete Skyline Stage, June 28 The rhythms of Africa run through reggae, but now reggae and African music appear to be heading in opposite directions. While reggae edges closer to commercial pop, African music still draws on such traditions as drumming and chanting–the roots of its sound. The […]