Man, for the most part this has been a shitty year for rap. But you know who's been killing shit this year? Death. Goddamn, how many OGs do we have to lose this year? We just lost another one, too—RIP, Norman Whitfield. Legendary writer/arranger/producer for Motown, this proponent of "psychedelic soul" was responsible for (among other things) "Poppa Was a Rolling Stone" and "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," which I just heard someone sing at the karaoke spot last night. He will be missed, but his legacy will live forever.

I also want to send some love and energy out to MC Breed and Nate Dogg! Midwest rap-pioneer Breed was on life support until recently due to kidney failure, but he's apparently doing better now. As for my man Nate Dogg (whose parts in "Regulate" I sang in tribute at the aforementioned karaoke spot), he recently suffered his second stroke in the past 12 months. Damn. Get better soon, y'all!

Don't miss two, count 'em two, nights at the Showbox at the Market with Blue Scholars and the whole Hieroglyphics fam on September 26 and 27! It's majorly going down, cap'n—the Scholars have been on the Freshly Dipped tour for like a hundred thousand years, bringing that 206 to the nation at large, and this is their homecoming (before they hit the road some more). I'd like to take this time to say that I really hope Casual does "Feelin' My Shit" from Jake One's White Van Music.

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By the time you've laid eyes on this, Common Market will have hit the Tobacco Road (zing!) with L.A. rap-chillaxers People Under the Stairs—and both will touch down in Seatown on September 28 at King Cobra, which has great sound, rap fans. PUTS are putting out their seventh album, Fun DMC, at the end of the month, and CM's newest album already hit stores nationwide earlier this month. That Tobacco Road release was crazily off the hook, packed to the gills, and all-around awesome with performances from Feral Children and Thee Emergency. CM killed it in style with an ambitious stage show that included the Total Experience Gospel Choir, a creepy-ass preacher (I hate church), and an angelic dance number from RA Scion's daughter. Good shit, even though I had to jet a little early to check the show up the road where my man Fatal Lucciauno was making his debut back onstage. Welcome home, Fatal!

The next night it was right back to a packed Neumos for the Big Tunes battle, also full of awesome. There was all the comedy, controversy, and bangers you've come to expect from this event—Rising Son, who you may know for his tracks for LaRue, killed shit; congrats to the champion who stood triumphant at the end of the night—Brainstorm of Dyme Def, who along with runner-up Rising Son, are heading to NYC. Big ups, dudes! recommended