On the streets of New York, even Daniel Day-Lewis couldn't buy the buzz that Immortal Technique is picking up now. This cat is winning emcee battles left and right, and he's down with the Stronghold crew, the notorious cap-friendly rappers who hold nothing back in competition. I recently got ahold of his Revolutionary Vol. 2 album, and the artwork alone is unbelievable (it shows several heads of state in the Oval Office, assassinated). I honestly didn't expect much from the music, though, figuring the album would be a typical New York thing with horrible production from an emcee who could never translate being a good live performer into making good music. I was sorely mistaken. RV2 is definitely the underground sleeper of 2003, featuring everybody from Pumpkinhead, C-Rayz Walz, Tonedeff, and Poison Pen to Diabolic, Jean Grae, and Akir. The latter two collaborate on a couple of incredible songs, including the album's closer, "You Never Know," a song about being in love with an AIDS victim. The whole-posse track, "Peruvian Cocaine," breaks down the drug trade in a creative, conceptual fashion, one of many areas where the album is politically driven without being too preachy--the antithesis of Juelz Santana's debut, From Me to U.

The three kooky white boys from Long Beach, California, who call themselves Ugly Duckling first came out in 1997 on some rebellion from their LB counterparts Warren G and Snoop Dogg. They are anything but hard, and made it a point to reflect that in their rhymes and live shows. These cats are just some fun hiphop-loving dudes who happen to put some comic shit--a simple yet effective gimmick. This Tuesday, September 9, the trio (Young Einstein, Andy Cooper, and Dizzy) will be rocking Chop Suey, performing material from their albums Fresh Mode, Journey to Anywhere, and Taste the Secret. Also on deck are the duo of Geologic and Sabzi--known as the Blue Scholars--who have a tentative album-release date of "soon," and Xntrik, the Subdwellers emcee who won the NWXtreme battle with Bad Luk and was one of the recent Battle of Bumbershoot finalists.

This Wednesday, September 10, the Suicide Watch Tour--featuring the Shapeshifters rocking material off Adopted by Aliens and solo material from some of their members--should bring good times to EMP's Liquid Lounge. The Shapeshifters are a crew of Southern California emcees from various camps--most notably Project Blowed--who have released several projects together. 2Mex and Xololanxinxo (both from Of Mexican Descent), Busdriver, and Awol One are the crew's more notable members, and these guys are all touring machines. The Liquid Lounge ain't the biggest of venues, so it should be a real intimate setting for a high-energy show like this one.

Brother Ali has an EP coming out soon, the follow-up to one of the best albums of the year, Shadows on the Sun. Ali was scheduled to go on tour with Soul Position later in the fall, but things have changed and now he's been added to an already-packed lineup, featuring some of the best on the Rhymesayers roster, for the Seven's Travel Tour (which includes Atmosphere, Oddjobs, Vitamin D, and the Micranots). Speaking of Rhymesayers, Vitamin D's 12-inch ("No Good" b/w "Touch the Sky" feat. H-Bomb and the Jake One-produced "Enstrumental") will be out very soon on the Minneapolis label. Also on the horizon, the Boom Bap Project's new 12-inch ("Get Up" b/w "Odds on Favorite" feat. L'Roneous and "Net Worth" feat. Pep Love of the Hieroglyphics) is out and getting serviced to college radio across the country. With its last single hitting number one, the crew has already nabbed everybody's attention and shouldn't have any problems keeping it with the Jake One soundscape.

I want to use this last space here to send a shout out to KGRG 89.9 FM's DJ Crush, whose radio show Ear to the Street has been the longest-running hiphop show in the Northwest, on-air for the past 10 years. Even though the station's frequency can be hard to pick up in places, the show has been a valuable opportunity for underground hiphop/local artists to get heard. Growing up, I would hold my radio antenna at just the right angle to avoid static every Monday night, and listen to the new flavors that MTV and KUBE never gave me--plus I was frequently able to request songs and actually hear them get played. DJ Crush has always shown love to the local artist, and has continuously done good things for hiphop over the years. SAMUEL L. CHESNEAU


REQUIRED LISTENING 1. Nas feat. Rakim & Alicia Keys, "Streets of New York" (Ill Will)

2. Paris, "Evil" (Guerrilla Funk)

3. Immortal Technique feat. Jean Grae, "You Never Know" (Viper)

4. Big Gipp feat. Sleepy Brown, "Steppin' Out" (In the Paint)

5. Vanilla Ice, "Ice Is Workin' It" (Capitol)

6. 3582 (Fat Jon & J. Rawls), "The E" (Hum Drums)

7. Showbiz & A.G., "Next Level" (Full Frequency)

8. Youngbloodz, "Damn" (LaFace)

9. Jedi Mind Tricks feat. Canibus, "Tibetan Black Musicians" (Babygrande)

10. Asheru & Blue Black, "Better" (Seven Heads)