I be what is known as a bandit/You gotta hand it to me when you truly understand it...

I, as a nigga who many love to hate, have always sort of identified with Ice Cube—who's coming to Showbox at the Market on Thursday, April 7. Yes, the dude is still making music in between movies and TV shows. I have to admit, though, I kinda wish he'd stick to the visuals (I think infiltrating Hollywood on his own terms is pretty gangsta), 'cause the audio he's cranking out since, shit, the first War & Peace installment some 13 years ago has been less than stellar. Very few rappers in the 40-plus set still put their foots in it (off the top of my head: Ghostface, Scarface, E-40, and a certain enigmatic Palaceer who calls the 206 his home), but aside from joints here and there, my man Cube hasn't been one. Still, I like his last three records on principle alone; he put them out himself, and his independent spirit has always been what's made him so dope. That, and the quantity of classics under his belt, many of which he'll no doubt unleash on the stage. Twist your middle two fingers and salute, damn it. Also, Fatal Lucciauno opens; that's wassup. Fatal's next project, Respect, is coming; if you're fiending for some Fa, check him on the riveting "Black Bandana" off of Avatar Young Blaze's latest mixtape, Danny Darko.

Of course, THEESatisfaction play the Crocodile on Thursday, April 7, and the new stuff sounds incredible every time I hear it, like at the Sub Pop showcase at SXSW a couple weeks back: dense, regal, next. Seriously. I am deeply anticipating their LP Awe Naturale, due later this year on a label you trust. Stas and Cat are joined that night by Helladope (we need more!) and OC Notes, so you can damn sure expect greatness.

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But wait, there's more. Inevitable conflict-of-interest moment: Mash Hall splinter cell Don't Talk to the Cops! (Regular Show out now) are rocking the High Dive on Friday, April 8, with Kirkland killas Kung Foo Grip and Oly's PBR-glam-rap Night Fox. Also, proper live hiphop crew the Theoretics execute the CD release for their solid self-titled joint at the Hard Rock on Saturday, April 9, with the like-minded Dyno Jamz and That One Show (the grouping of Know Choice, Ripynt, Notion, and producer Shast). Also, Keak Da Sneak hits Nectar on Sunday, April 10, with Spaceman, Mr. D.O.G., and the always hyphy DJ Darwin.

If you're a shut-in, though, and you want to hear one of the best, hungriest new MCs in town, you need to check Havi Blaze. Dude goes hard (he's not quite there, but he reminds me of Elzhi, if that tells you anything) but also knows when to let it breathe, and thankfully doesn't lack in the personality department. Slap his Purple & Gold: The Balance mixtape (www.therealestmusic.com) and be impressed for the entirety of its hour-plus duration. Sometimes rappers' ambition far outstrips their ability; not so here. Havi is that hungry because he knows just how dope he is. Salute. recommended

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