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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Presenting a host of local, regional and national hip-hop acts, plus a break-dancing contest, a freestyle competition and a “Lyricist Lounge” style poetry slam, the four-day hip-hop summit Hiphopolis Now starts on Thursday and runs through Oct. 9 at The B-Side, 230 W. Riverside Ave. All shows start at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 for all four nights, through TicketsWest, or (800) 325-SEAT, or $10 per night at the door. The B-Side also will offer a soul food menu including gumbo, catfish, black-eyed peas, ribs, wings, macaroni and cheese and red beans and rice.


Locals’ Night features a “Lyricist Lounge”-style poetry slam, plus the return of Erik B. and Jeremy Hughes. DJ Nealie Neal’s dance party closes the night.

Alias Frequencies

Roster: Erik B. (aka: Erik Bergloff, Erik Beats, The Professor) and Jeremy Hughes (aka: J. Hughes, X-Rated)

Affiliations: Upper Class Racket (Bergloff), Chinese Sky Candy (Hughes)

Headquarters: Portland (Bergloff) and Oakland, Calif. (Hughes)

Occupation: Beatsmiths

Specialty: Downtempo electronica, dark-chambered hip-hop and all-around brain-busting beats

Profile: Bergloff is a 10-year veteran in the local rap scene whose roots go back to punk-rap outfit Upper Class Racket. After UCR split, Bergloff became a local legend for his intense poetry readings, relentless freestyle ambushes and inspired beat production. Soon he teamed with Hughes, a synth player, guitarist and music producer who was already well-respected as the genius behind local math-rock phenomenon Chinese Sky Candy. The team of the maverick Bergloff with the introverted Hughes resulted in a cluster of exceptional electronica, highlighted by Hughes’ 2004 album, “Living Room.” Hiphopolis Now will be the duo’s first reunion since Bergloff moved to Portland and Hughes left Spokane to study electronic music and recording media at Mills College in Oakland, Calif.

Freetime Synthetic with Quiz

Roster: Freetime Synthetic (aka Jason Corcoran) and Quiz

Affiliation: Upper Class Racket

Headquarters: Spokane

Occupation: Emcees

Specialty: Lyrical agility and rhyme acrobatics

Profile: Synthetic was the other half of the rap duo in punk-rap band Upper Class Racket. Synthetic is as well-known for his lightspeed rhyme flow as he is for his tendency to bring his style of homemade hip-hop to punk-rock bills. He is set to release his anticipated solo album, “Unlimited Movement,” this fall. The album is being recorded locally at Black Lab studio by Joe Varela (The Side Project, Nate Schierman and Melody Moore). Synthetic’s set is supported by up and coming local emcee Quiz.

Nealie Neal

Alias: Neal Mertz

Affiliations: Breezy Brown, James Pants, Supervillain and Cheddar Chad

Headquarters: Spokane

Occupation: Vinyl connoisseur

Specialty: Sexually energized head-nodding funk, jazz and rare groove

Profile: Mertz is the newest in the scene’s cadre of funk deejays under the Unified Groove Merchants flag. He left his stamp on The B-Side a few weeks ago with a trapped-on-the-floor dance party. Mertz also makes occasional appearances on the Breezy Brown Pre-Funk Party on Friday nights on KYRS (95.3 and 92.3 FM).

Oct. 7

Regional rap is showcased with emcees from Seattle, Oregon and Montana and highlighted by a break-dancing competition with local and regional dance crews.

Tangled Roots

Roster: Rotating cast of dancers led by Shanner Escalanti

Affiliations: Vision, Floor Fanatics, Hulkamaniacs, Massive Monkeys

Headquarters: Various Spokane dance studios

Occupation: Break dancers

Specialty: Ripping up floors

Profile: Escalanti got his start through Native American dancing. A member of the Shoshone Tribe, Escalanti saw similarities between his culture’s traditional dances and the urban dance art of breakin’. As the leader of one of Spokane’s best-known breakin’ crews, Escalanti has built a coalition of dancers that competes with and against each other. Many of Tangled Roots’ members teach at local studios and have performed at schools, city functions, weddings and fund-raisers.

Ohmega Watts

Alias: Milton Campbell

Affiliations: Lightheaded, Braille, Pigeon John, Lifesavas

Headquarters: Portland

Occupation: Emcee and producer

Specialty: Organic hip-hop chemist

Profile: Hailing from Brooklyn, N.Y., Campbell moved to Portland after finishing school at the Art Institute in Florida. His crew, Lightheaded, is recognized in the bustling Northwest rap scene. Campbell’s solo debut, “The Find,” was created with live music played and then resampled with several other musicians – there are no loops. The fleshy production style is matched with lyrics that are equal parts b-boy rhyming, social commentary and spiritually charged storytelling. Campbell’s first single release, “A Request,” drew comparisons to Digital Underground and Jurassic Five and scored Campbell a deal with indie label Ubiquity Recordings. “The Find” also features Portland rap group Lifesavas, who also will appear at Hiphopolis Now.

James Two

Alias: Jimmy

Affiliations: Shovel, Locke and The Chris Wilson Five, Sentence

Headquarters: Spokane by way of Missoula

Occupation: Emcee

Specialty: Microphone adrenaline

Profile: Two temporarily migrated to Spokane from Missoula this summer to punch out his forthcoming solo album, recorded at Black Lab Studio by Joe Varela (The Side Project, Terms None, Matthew Lindley Mistake). One-half of the Missoula rap duo Shovel, Two is best known around town for his high-energy stage show when tag-teaming with Locke and The Chris Wilson Five. Shovel is the only Northwest member of the Denver-based label owned by emcee Sentence. Two and Locke hooked up with Sentence a couple of years ago in Missoula at a freestyle battle. Two helped push the hip-hop scene in Missoula with his Hungis Productions promotion company and a hip-hop radio show he hosted there for five years.

Boom Bap Project

Roster: Karim (aka Nightclubberlang), Destro Destructo and DJ Scene

Affiliations: Jake One, Vitamin D, Hieroglyphics, Lifesavas, Blackalicious, Dilated Peoples, Atmosphere, MF Doom, Brother Ali, Grayskul, Oldominion, Eyedea and Abilities

Headquarters: Seattle

Occupation: Deejays and emcees

Specialty: Hip-hop preservationists

Profile: The multicultural Seattle rap trio joined the sure-shot indie hip-hop label Rhymesayers Entertainment in time for its 2005 sophomore album, “Reprogram,” which is shaded in old-school gusto with 2K5 wordplay and production by Seattle Jake One and Vitamin D (Busta Rhymes, De La Soul, Gift of Gab and Ghostface Killa). The guest list on “Reprogram” includes Gift of Gab (Blackalicious), Dilated Peoples and Lifesavas. Boom Bap has shared the stage with Eminem, The Wu-Tang Clan and The Roots and performed at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. That same year Boom Bap played the stadium stage at Bumbershoot with Mos Def, Jurassic 5 and Dilated Peoples.

Oct. 8

Saturday’s live hip-hop answers the question for people who think music and hip-hop are different things. The night features Eleven Eyes and Crown City Rockers, which are hip-hop bands that enlist live instruments in the studio as well as onstage. The show opens with a freestyle competition and closes with DJ Supervillain’s dance party.

Eleven Eyes

Roster: Tim McLaughlin on trumpet and effects, Matt Calkins on saxophones, Mike Pardew on guitar, JD Monroe (aka Turntabler Enabler) on turntables and electronics, Dave Trenkel on bass and keys, Steve Weems on drums

Affiliation: None

Headquarters: Eugene, Ore.

Occupation: Non-standard jazz, funk, drum and bass, electronica and hip-hop musicians

Specialty: Non-specializing

Profile: For McLaughlin’s 2002 senior trumpet recital at the University of Oregon, he composed music for turntables, saxophone, trumpet, guitar, bass and drums. A year later Eleven Eyes put out its debut album on the New and Improv label. The group’s sound builds on bass-heavy grooves supported by slick drumming and intermingling rhythms from guitar and turntable and is laced with flowing tripto-sonic horn lines. Adding texture, accompanying solos and melodies with the same command as lead guitar, the turntable is as much a part of the music voice as the other instruments. That idea goes a step further on Eleven Eyes’ latest studio set, “Scope,” released this year. The album is peppered with rapped vocals by Monk Metz.

Crown City Rockers

Roster: Raashan Ahmad on vocals, Max on drums, Woodstock on programmed, Kat on keys, Headnodic on bass

Affiliation: Zion I

Headquarters: San Francisco

Occupation: Hip-hop soullective

Specialty: Funkatized organic hip-hop

Profile: Following in the footsteps of The Roots, De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, Crown City Rockers combines trained musicians from the world-renowned Berklee School of Music in Boston with a true-school emcee and beatmaking co-pilot, both from Southern California. Ahmad’s intellectual yet down-to-earth lyrics take shape as battle raps, poetic musings and emotionally compelling testimonials. CCR molds its own brand of funk, jazz and soul into a red-hot hip-hop compound that is both old-school and progressive. Mixing positive messages with live instrumentation, CCR also is praised for its intensely tight live show.

Oct. 9

Hiphoplis Now’s anchor features Portland’s finest party rockers, Lifesavas, and their socially conscious hip-hop with politically fueled raps by nationally known group The Coup. DJ James Pants opens the night with a beat set and closes with a dance party.

James Pants

Aliases James Singleton, General James, Red Rooster, Brainchild

Affiliations: Breezy Brown, Nealie Neal, Supervillain, Spince Love, Cheddar Chad, Chubby Cox, Rand Univac

Headquarters: Spokane

Occupation: Deejay, producer

Specialty: Turning dance floors into all-out freakfests

Profile: As Brainchild, Singleton made a name for himself locally with his Butter house parties, pairing deejay and emcees in a loose, old-school freestyle cipher and dance vibe. Before that he played skins in local funk-rock outfit Rand Univac. His Red Rooster projects find Singleton recording as a one-man band on bass, guitar, synths, samples, drums and programmed beats. Hands down one of Spokane’s most respected deejays, Singleton started as a deejay with a hip-hop crew in Austin, Texas, where he opened for acts such as Hieroglyphics, The Roots and Wu-Tang Clan’s Cappadonna. Singleton’s beat set is supported by local emcee Emmett Teal.


Roster: Vursatyle (aka Marlon Irving), Jumbo the Garbageman (aka Solomon David), DJ Rev. Shines (aka Ryan Shortell)

Affiliations: Quannum Records, DJ Shadow, Blackalicious, Lateef the Chief, Lyrics Born, Pigeon John, Poets of Rhythm, Sirens Echo, Cool Nuts, Bosko, The Coup

Headquarters: Portland

Occupation: Deejays and emcees

Specialty: Lyrical enlightenment

Profile: Jumbo and Vursatyl often were called in to play shows at the last minute when artists canceled and became known in promoters’ circles as Lifesavas, thus the band’s name. Once the Rev. Sines was added to the mix, Lifesavas took control of Portland’s thriving hip-hop scene. Chief Xcel, of Blackalicious, stumbled upon Lifesavas’ sound while crate digging in Portland and immediately recruited the band to accompany Blackalicious on a national tour, soon after Lifesavas signed with Quannum Projects (an artist-owned label run by Blackalicious, DJ Shadow and Latyrx). Lifesavas throw a slammin’ party, but the group is critically acclaimed for Vurs and Jumb’s social and political responsibility in holding up hip-hop tradition.

The Coup

Roster: Boots Riley and Pam the Funkstress

Affiliation: Lifesavas

Headquarters: Oakland, Calif.

Occupation: Revolutionary rap raiders

Specialty: Infiltrating eardrums

Profile: During the early to mid-‘90s, The Coup’s Califunk beats supporting Boots’ street-smart lyrics placed the group next to more abrasive West Coast rap pioneers such as N.W.A., Above the Law or even the ultra-militant Paris. But rebel-yelling Coup saw a whole new level of controversy over its fourth album, “Party Music.” During the week of Sept. 11, 2001, “Party Music” was scheduled to be released but was pulled at the last minute because of its cover art, which depicted frontman Riley holding a detonator blowing up the World Trade Center towers. Riley was later quoted saying, “It was supposed to be a metaphor to symbolize us destroying capitalism.” Though the album was replaced with new, safe cover art, the story made national news and The Coup was accused of cashing in on a horrible tragedy, though the original cover art was shot months before the album release. The Coup has not backed down on its position, that it is battling a corrupt system, though the band doesn’t advocate terrorist acts. On Sept. 11, 2004, The Coup received an award in Washington, D.C., from the ALF-CIO for its commitment and artistry as part of the CD Labor FilmFest in raising awareness of global trade issues and media consolidation. In an ironic twist, the original artwork for Hiphopolis Now posters was unintentionally printed with a New York cityscape with the twin towers still standing. The artwork was reprinted without the towers in the background.

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