by Samuel L. Chesneau

The Underground Professionals Tour hits Seattle's Supernatural Music this Friday, October 10, as Emanon, Orko the Psychotic Alien, Spontaneous, Mr. Brady, and other guests rock an in-store there. While these artists have yet to find success with their prospective projects, the most promising group of the lineup, Emanon, released the highly overlooked Anon & On EP on Ill Boogie that featured such great joints as "Blind Love" and "Detour." Emanon's emcee, Aloe Blacc, has a solo EP dropping soon, but in the meantime, another of Blacc's side projects, a live band called the Breakdown Boys, will be one of the featured guests on this tour. As for the other artists on this bill, Orko the Psychotic Alien, like many in the battle circuit, is a great freestyler and has good stage presence, but hasn't yet made the material that can transcend the circuit on to record. But Orko just started making the move into making music, so he could prove his skills yet. As for Spontaneous and Mr. Brady, they've dropped disappointing albums on GoodVibe and Battle Axe respectively, but could pull things off a little better live.

Also on Friday, Lifesavas will play a free Stranger party at ConWorks to help celebrate the paper's Genius Awards (which spotlight people in the arts community for outstanding work). The event will feature Northwest hiphop's finest in Lifesavas' Jumbo, Vursatyl, and Rev. Shines, as well as performances by New York's Princess Superstar and her partner Alexander Technique, and rock duo the Helio Sequence. Something for everyone, no doubt, so be sure to come through and check it out--especially since it's free.

Babygrande artists Jedi Mind Tricks and Canibus have already joined forces in the studio, and they were all set to tour together--until Uncle Sam had something to say about it. The pair of acts were to hit Chop Suey on Saturday, October 11, but unfortunately Canibus won't be able to make this date. After spending time in the armed services in Fort Lewis, the rapper has been called up for active duty and will sadly no longer be at this show. Philly's underground act Jedi Mind Tricks are still on the bill, though, and recently dropped their third album, Vision of Gandhi, to high acclaim from the critics (and disappointment from some of their hardcore, cultlike fans). While JMT's first two albums were more intelligent and grimy, the absence of Jus Allah and the change in production style to a more upbeat, cinematic vibe vastly changed their direction musically. Live, JMT have been known to go wild during their performances, though, so continue to expect the unexpected from them on that front (a couple years back, their emcee, Vinnie Paz, was so hyped that he poured a whole forty on his head at a show in Philly with MF Doom).

Dead Prez will be back in town performing a free show on campus at the University of Washington also on Saturday (7 pm at the Hub) on behalf of the ACLU for the Freedom Tour. Apparently they were arrested in New York City at a photo shoot last weekend--although details of that detention are sketchy--but it shouldn't affect their appearance in Seattle.

There was a period where I thought he was overhyped, but R. Kelly just keeps making better music as he goes along. Say what you want about his sexual escapades with teenagers, but his personal life hasn't affected the consistently high quality of the music he produces. His single "Step in the Name of Love" is absolute fire and even the mild success he attained with Ron Isley and his protégées JS is worth praise. His latest release, The R. in R&B Collection Volume 1, is indeed a goodie, as he steps up to qualify himself as one of the most soulful voices of our time (although the selection of "Thoia Thoing" wouldn't be my choice for the first single). I might get some shit for saying this, but in my mind, R. Kelly has put himself up there with legends like Al Green for making hits to make babies to, and if he continues this pace of delivering the goods, can step up with Marvin and Stevie as one of the greatest artists of our time.

hiphop@thestranger.com

REQUIRED LISTENING

1. Ludacris, "Diamond in the Back" (Def Jam)

2. R. Kelly, "Step in the Name of Love" (Jive)

3. Nas, "Poppa Was a Playa" (Ill Will)

4. Kool G Rap & DJ Polo, "Operation CB" (Cold Chillin')

5. Anthony Hamilton, "Comin from Where I'm From" (Arista)

6. Shabazz the Disciple, "Red Hook Day" (Battle Axe)

7. RZA feat. Ghostface Killah, "Fast Cars" (Wu-Tang)

8. Black Moon, "12 Inch Barrel" (Duck Down)

9. Soul Position, "Fuckajob" (Rhymesayers)

10. Juice, "Heat" (Cali)

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