Gift of Gab: O-Town in the Hiz-ouse

Gift of Gab

Chali 2na

Hosted by Lyrics Born

The Independent

San Francisco, CA

November 7, 2009

Senior Rapping Correspondent Brian Griset

Gift of Gab (from O-Town’s Blackalicious) is one of my favorite emcees. What Gab lacks in dynamic stage-presence, he makes up in dazzling displays of tongue-twisting wordplay. He sandwiched his fun set with the songs "Alphabet Aerobics" and "Chemical Calisthenics," both featured intricate verbal flows that rapidly increased in speed as the song progressed. By the end, it was a blur of words. In between, Gab performed such crowd favorites as "Deception" and "Blazing Arrow" as well as tracks from his new sophomore solo album, Escape 2 Mars. The concert was the start of his tour to celebrate the new release. Gab later brought on Lyrics Born and Lateef, the third MC in Quannum's crew, to the stage for the night's second freestyle session which brought down the house.

Playing into the wee hours, was Charlie Stewart, professionally known as Chali 2na. A rapper and hip hop artist, formerly associated with the popular groups Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli. Chali played with a full awesome band. The strongest parts of his set were the heartfelt "Love's Gonna Getcha," a high energy romp through "Guns Up," and performances of J5 favorites "Freedom," "What's Golden," and "Quality Control," the later featuring the keyboardist singing a chorus of the other J5 (the Jackson Five's) "One More Chance."

A beat can make or break a song in other ways – if a rapper uses too many “old school” beats, they are bound to get criticized for it, and told to be more original. The key to making hip hop music work is to find a beat that truly makes the story and song both entertaining and original. This show was a perfect mix of old and new and thoroughly entertaining.

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