S write this from a van speeding through Nevada toward a town called Winnemucca. Mash Hall are on tour with Mad Rad, having a blast. (California, it's said, knows how to party.) Of course, we haven't gotten to Boise yet. Anyway, during this trip I got to hear the upcoming second edition of P Smoov's half-instrumental mixtape Face Scrunchers. Great stuff on here: big beats and some killer songs, lit joints from Mad Rad, Smoov himself (for all the local producer/rapper's popularity, his skill and wit on the mic, as well as with a sticky hook, are kinda slept-on), and Fatal Lucciauno, who sounds titanic, talking big shit and sounding great paired up with the OFS rock star beatmaker. (Word is P also got him on a song with NY's skinny-jeans-and-proud-of-it black punk hipster rap shitstarters Ninjasonik?)

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The day before I left, I linked up with Fatal to hear a couple cuts from his upcoming project, Respect. The guy is one of my very, very favorite lyricists in town, and I've long awaited a new project from him (if you new 206 boosters got hype after Lucciauno's 2007 essential The Only Forgotten Son dropped, here's your pass to go and get that). Fatal delivers with all the urgency of flow and flavor appropriate to one of the town's finest, who's been conscious of being out of the spotlight for a couple of years. Not that his rep lost a step—in fact, it's only gotten better, and he now finds himself headlining for big dogs like Ice Cube in venues that wouldn't have him before. You can see him at Nectar on Sunday, May 8, opening up for Louis Rich, I mean Lex Diamonds, that is to say Cigar Shallah Raekwon the motherfucking Chef. You know, the Purple Tape, the half moon, the iced-out tarantula? Rae, fresh off the release of his Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang album, is focused on keeping the savage spirit of vintage, raw-ass Wu alive, much like his fellow Cuban link builder Ghostface (whose Apollo Kids LP from December buck-fiftied the memory of the forgettable Wizard of Poetry and Wu-Massacre albums). Deep-spitter-on-the-recent-come-up Havi Blaze and DJ Swervewon are also on the bill that night. It's drinkin'-age only, but young'uns don't fret just yet.

Two good all-ages jump-offs are jumping off: First, over at Studio Seven on Wednesday, May 4, you can find One Be Lo, Ann Arbor's Tree City, Mike Champoux, DJ Cataclysmic, a local b-boy cypher, and your host Othello of PDX's Lightheaded. Then you've got the Spring Classic Vol. 2 (random: Remember when great rap soundtracks like New Jersey Drive and Friday came in more than one volume?) at the Vera Project on Saturday, May 7. Anchored as always by Big World Breaks, it features Massive Monkees, JusMoni, Dyno Jamz' Turtle T, the Vicious Puppies crew, the Bulldog Horns, and the Garfield High School drum line, all hosted by Helladope's Jerm. So leave the fakeys at home for a night, kids. recommended