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Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2002


Mickey Fickey Mix

Since hardcore rap feeds off hyperbole, it's difficult to separate boasts from accomplishments. Is Dr. Dre really the originator of all that the West Coast represents, or is he simply SoCal hip-hop's shrewdest impresario? His contribution to "Straight Outta Compton," the 1988 N.W.A. album that defined gangsta rap, was mostly atmosphere. And while he's credited with boosting P-Funk as a beat template (calling it "G-funk"), he wasn't the first to do so.

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But Dre's mentorship guarantees attention. Xzibit, a West Coast rapper who toiled in the underground for most of the '90s, mainly in the company of Tha Alkoholiks, was taken under Dre's wing on the monumental Up in Smoke Tour 2000, which included other Dre acolytes such as Eminem and Snoop. X-to-the-Z, however, blew his colleagues off the stage with a hardcore style that was more amazing for its naturalness. Not since Ice Cube quit N.W.A. had a West Coast M.C. rapped in his own angry voice with such drama and conviction, and minus the stylistic gimmicks that had become standard since "The Chronic" reconfigured commercial rap.

Favoring minimalist funk in the Dre mold and eschewing words that contain more than two syllables, Xzibit espouses a hip-hop credo that stresses simplicity and directness: clear rhymes, comprehensible sentiments (the better to offend you with) and no mistakes about his targets (surprisingly few). In his recordings he makes sense, both musically and lyrically, even if you don't like what he says; and as he proved at last year's Fuji Rock Festival, when he held an afternoon audience in the palm of his hand, this credo translates very well in concert.

Headlining the third Mickey Fickey Mix hip-hop tour, Xzibit will be joined by several other practitioners of the Dre aesthetic, namely rapper Ras Kas (with whom X and Saafir formed the Cali collective Golden State), the pan-Pacific beats crew Big Boy & DJ E-Man, and Japanese DJs Couz and Dask.

Mickey Fickey Mix: Sept. 20, 10 p.m. (all-night), at Kawasaki Club Citta, (044) 246-8888, 5,500 yen; Sept. 21, 8 p.m., at King XMHU, Sapporo, (011) 531-1388, 5,500 yen; Sept. 22, 6 p.m., at On Air Osaka, (06) 6344-6166, 5,500 yen; and Sept. 23, 10 p.m. (all-night), at Club Radix, Nagoya, (052) 332-0073, 6,500 yen. All ticket prices in advance, slightly more at the door. For more information, call Playground at (03) 5475-5232.

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