The rising tide of soul and R&B in this town feels good, does it not? Malice & Mario Sweet, JusMoni, the Heartfelts, Dice, Darrius Willrich, Zach Bruce, Tiffany Wilson, Choklate, Felicia Loud—there are some gorgeous voices in this town, with roles much greater than merely singing hooks on hiphop tracks. Now make sure you don't miss another Seatown-bred voice—Kimberly Nichole, who's been getting her grind on in NYC for the last few, working with Lyfe Jennings and Anthony Hamilton, performing across the US and overseas. She's headlining "Uniquely Seattle" on Friday, March 11, at Chop Suey, with Big World Breaks, Felicia Loud, DJ Audeos, and hostess-with-an-indeterminate-amount Hollis of Canary Sing and the Heartfelts.

Okay, hiphop column, right. Be sure to hit up the Vera Project on Saturday, March 12 to check out the stoney KnowMads, raucous Kung Foo Grip, and the breezy Brothers from Another. See? Rap shit.

Speaking of: "Visualizing the realism of life in actuality, fuck who the baddest, a person's status depends on salary"—I'm guessing there are a whole lot of you who can finish this one, high in the running for my favorite verses on what is generally recognized as one of the greatest hiphop albums of all time. The guy who made his first appearance lacing the first verse on "Life's a Bitch," my favorite joint on Nas's Illmatic, is none other than BK don AZ. Rated number one on's list of Top Ten Underrated Rappers (thanks, Wikipedia!), AZ is indeed an underground legend—beloved universally by NY heads and all lovers of real rap—but still has never touched the commercial success of his QB kin Nasir. But fuck that, because he's one of the East Coast's best pure rappers in the biz (sorta like ex-Nas associate Cormega), with one of the game's most immediately recognizable voices and stamped, certified gold bars by the Brinks-load (Doe or Die, Pieces of a Man, 9 Lives, AWOL—bangers all). The Aziatic one himself hits Nectar on Sunday, March 13, for the 15th anniversary of Doe or Die, with Portland soldier Luck One, Tactown's Quarter After, plus DJs Gumbeaux and Seabefore.

French soul/hiphop producer Onra is hitting Nectar on Monday, March 14, for a blessedly FREE (SXSW send-off, sorta) show with SunTzu Sound and dj100proof. If you didn't peep his album Long Distance from last year, man, did you ever miss out on some beautiful beats, just pure sticky sunshine, warm and spacey; it sounds something like a bright and blissfully buzzed summer evening at a roof-deck party, pretty much exactly like when I first heard Onra and his Reggie B–featuring "High Hopes," as SunTzu spun tunes on the roof of the War Room. Goddamn, I miss that; this is that pre-spring torture time where you have to have your hood up to keep the hail out, and at the same time keep your shades on to keep the sun from blinding you. Summer, I pray for your timely approach; goddamn, the things I would do to you. For now, I'll have to make do with Austin and the awesomely overwhelming music hemorrhage that is SXSW, which half the town and I are about to leave for. Wish me luck—and hydration! recommended