www.ishootamerica.com / Todd Westphal

Ask about me: I like all sorts of different things. Sonically speaking, I'm not quite like that goober Andrew Zimmern, but I'll give anything a try, just to take a chance on finding a new favorite. Music is as inexhaustible as the universe itself; you could never possibly hear it all, and I take great solace in this thought. Here's some now.

Esseno (formerly known as SNO, get it?) is at Nectar on Friday, September 16, celebrating the release of his new one, Funked Up: BBQ'n Music Vol. 1, alongside Grynch and Fatal Lucciauno—both of whom appear on the album—not to mention Sonny Bonoho, Eldridge Gravy, and more. Esseno has a flow almost as smooth as the Hennessy he's favored since the cover of his last record, Jus a Sip, with a straight West Coastin', kicked-back every-player image that's positively vintage. Sometimes that vibe seems outdated, though, and the titular funk (there's talkbox on, like, half the tracks) production makes one song indistinguishable from the next, a common issue I have with lots of radio-friendly underground West Coast hiphop. (Figuring heavily into the proceedings are summer, Hen-rock, takin' it easy, and of course barbecuing—Esseno is, in fact, tying in the release of this album to the debut of a signature barbecue sauce called Saucy Johnson, made by his personal friend, 1970s Detroit Pistons center Richard Johnson.) There are jams on here, though, don't sleep: "All on Me," "BBQ Raps," "No Resistance," and "Smoove Out" are among my favorites here. Also: I love barbecue sauce.

Homie slightly reminds me of his dude Sonny Bonoho, which in turn reminds me that Sonny recently dropped a new EP called Jermaine. By now, you should know that Sonny is one of the oddest characters in the area and on the mic, but he shines when he puts his heart all in, such as on his single from 2010's Phone Phreak album, "Judge Brown"—a song where his sing-rap is at its most effective and stirring, where he cuts the caricature and admits that "I made a living outta making fun of myself." Unfortunately, there's nothing that I find quite as compelling during Jermaine's short duration (five tracks, including a skit and even a holdover from Phreak, the Bizarre-featuring raunchfest "Grand Daaam") but, predictably, I can't really hate on Sonny's grind whatsoever.

Also happening Friday, September 16, at the Crocodile, is a show featuring Seattle crew Southside, who as far as I can tell hail from nowhere near the actual Soufend (which, sorry, is a slight problem for me, given their handle) but from "the more studious end of the Seattle hip-hop underground," which means their jokey funk-rock-hop flirts with nerdcore, much like their guest vocalist on "Cheeseburger," Billy the Fridge. I appreciate that they don't take themselves too seriously, but it's just not for me, dudes. There's plenty who would disagree, and I hope those folks all go to this show and support. I, however, am a slave to my prejudices, and I declare: Live funk-rock hiphop, like Juggalo rap, is the worst. That said: Do you. recommended