UK hip hop passes the mic

The War of 1812 obviously settled nothing, judging by the intrusion of the Brits upon America's hallowed grounds of hip hop. The thing is, something special is simmering in rap music across the pond: the garage- and dance hall-influenced beats, the focus on the life of the working class over tales of bling, and unbridled enthusiasm are all uniquely U.K. The Streets' latest, The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living, has both enticed and irritated fans, as Mike Skinner returns to spit about the woes of a pop star dealing with unbridled access to drugs and sex — problems we can surely all relate to. Lady Sovereign, the self-described "biggest midget in the game," joins Skinner on this outing. This feisty, 5-foot-1 firecracker (recently signed to Def Jam) may just steal the show, as she brings her rude-girl banter from her silver-tongued debut EP, Vertically Challenged, to the stage. The Streets and Lady Sovereign perform Friday, June 9, at the Fillmore at 9 p.m. Admission is $21.50; call 346-6000 or visit www.thefillmore.com for more info. Jonah Flicker


The DMC World DJ Championships are visually entertaining contests combining the agility of gymnastics with hip hop's cheeky ego. It's not unusual to see a DMC competitor use two different records to scratch out a verbal diss; only in this battle, he just might perform the stunt with his elbows. The Bay Area has long been known as a real hub of DJ talent, so the "San Francisco Regionals" of DMC's annual showdown should be world-class. It's not enough to be a great mixmaster — here the pressure will be to perform in front of a judging panel that includes former champions Shortkut and Q-Bert. All ages are welcome as DJs take to the turntables on Saturday, June 10, at CELLSpace. Admission is $20; call 648-7562 or visit www.dmcworld.com for more info. Tamara Palmer


If not for the celebrated virtuosity of Compton producer named Dr. Dre, DJ Quik might have taken all of the glory for his technically intricate, funk-laden sound. He's equally adept at laid-back jams for cruising (like the classic "Tonight," which cleverly samples songs by Kleer and Betty Wright) and club bangers (the more recent "What They Think" with street crooner Nate Dogg). Quik's production work has graced everything from his solo albums to tracks by 2Pac, Eazy E, Janet Jackson, and Whitney Houston. Not that the marquee names matter to Quik, who showed a renewed passion for the craft with last fall's Traumaand a new distribution deal for his label Mad Science. Quik celebrates his career by performing his favorite hits with a live band on Saturday, June 10, at the Fillmore at 9 p.m. Admission is $25; call 346-6000 or visit www.thefillmore.com for more info.— T.P.


Mark Farina continues to be one of San Francisco's most popular DJs, both at home and on international dance floors. Over the last few years, he's also come to be known for his original productions, which range from jazzy cuts like "Cali Spaces" (from last year's fifth installment of his popular mix series Mushroom Jazz) to the more recent bottom-heavy "Bes' Entertainment," a song that regularly gets bumped in gritty house sets. Joining Farina will be Lee Cabrera, the New York-based DJ duo of Steven Lee and Albert Cabrera. The pair's six years together have yielded European club hits and high-profile remix gigs, but their vinyl crates are packed with relics from the roots of current dance music, from disco to freestyle. Expect a mixed bag of funk on Saturday, June 10, at Ruby Skye at 8 p.m. Admission is $15; call 693-0777 or visit www.rubyskye.com for more info.— T.P.

 
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