The relationships of white musicians to black music have always been a bit weird: the whites end up either as exploiters or mired in a too-respectful stasis. 3rd Bass are a consumingly committed pair of rappers from New York’s outer boroughs whose almost obsessive adoption of a black idiom has already produced an amazingly successful record (The Cactus Album) and promises more. M.C. Serch and the cigar-chomping Prime Minister Pete Nice aren’t didactic like KRS-One, gritty like Ice Cube, or flighty like De La Soul. Rather, they’re white boys in a foreign land, whose samples are a bit more mainstream (“Sledgehammer” and “Eminence Front” on a new single, “Pop Goes the Weasel”) but whose searching rhymes talk tough on easy subjects like racism and even tougher on the harder ones, like why the hell they do what they do: “Doin’ this” they say simply and convincingly, “is what life meant.” Rap shows, of course, are difficult to pull off; up close at Shelter for a relatively cheap $10 (the show is included in the regular admission) may be the place to see them. Thursday, midnight, Shelter, 564 W. Fulton; 648-5500.

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