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Alias: One of hip-hop's most respected auteurs (courtesy photo)

Lotus Tribe constructs an ambitious local celebration of hip-hop culture

Forget monochromatic track suits laced with infinitely ridiculous accessories (insert nostalgic sigh over full-size clocks on necklaces). The evolution of hip-hop, a paradox in itself, has allowed the genre to emerge as an artistic force to be reckoned with, even though the gilded misogyny of yesteryear continues to linger, primarily in mainstream "shit-hop."

Recent progress, if you've been lucky enough to hear it, sees the musician as an artist, his words a poetic flow that transcend beyond bitches and money. Concurrently, this Lazarus-like rebirth of a fresh concept has been met with tightly knit homegrown groups, such as San Antonio's Lotus Tribe and the Prhymemates. These collectives emphasize a communal approach to this musical endeavor, linking up-and-coming DJs and MCs to local audiences.

On Sunday, November 16, Lotus Tribe will hook up with national Anticon acts SOLE, Alias, Telephone Jim Jesus, and Odd Nosdam at Sam's Burger Joint, for Elemental 5, a full-blown celebration of hip-hop culture that will include breakdancing, MC battles, and graffiti art.

One of the features performers, Alias, a.k.a. Brendon Whitney, has established himself as an underground hip-hop innovator. He breaks down a myriad of musical boundaries with his second full-length, Muted, a collection of instrumentalist genius spattered with scant vocals, courtesy of artists Markus Archer and Pedestrian.

Sunday, November 16
$9/advance, $11/door
Sam's Burger Joint
330 E. Grayson
Muted is a compilation of styles from a neo-Tricky trip-hop revival to the more recent electronic sampling of Dat Politics. The first track, "beginagain," is filled with chatty looped samples reminiscent of the politically driven '90s group, Consolidated (who actually managed to convince me that milk is evil). Further into the album is Alias' collaboration with Markus Archer of Notwist, an anti-war piece with the affecting vocal style of such emotionally charged artists as Elliot Smith or Thom York. On "caged in, wasting away," Clinc-esque percussion leads a creepy distorted child-adult voice similar to techniques by Knife. SOLE, known as "da baddest poet" in most circles, will be promoting the recently released Selling Live Water. The DIY king of modern hip-hop, Telephone Jim Jesus, has his self-released disc, Tel.Jim.Jesus., to offer.

Lotus Tribe member Mark Gonzalez explains that this show was conceived as an all-encompassing tribute to hip-hop's potential as an art form: "We just want to let the hip-hop community know that the Elementals are a design to help the progression of our art form through their contributions to the show," Gonzalez says. "Local b-boys and girls break, local grafitti artists paint, local MCs rhyme, and local artists perform.

"The shows are not about making money or lifting one particular group, it is about cohesively cultivating our youth while demonstrating the strength we hold when we come together and later, figuring out what real power we hold and how we can use that power to make a difference and change in our communities." •

More by Iliana Lopez



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