Born and raised in Chicago, Common is no stranger to critical acclaim, receiving rave reviews from the press since his 1992 debut, Can I Borrow a Dollar? One feud with Ice Cube, multiple awesome collaborations with the likes of Kanye West and Lauryn Hill, 11 Grammy nods, and several spots in ads for the Gap and Lincoln Navigators later, Common is still as respected as ever. He's managed to keep things fresh by experimenting with electric rock music and electronica-influenced tracks. Hear for yourself when he performs on Thursday, Feb. 14, at Mezzanine at 9 p.m. Advance tickets have sold out; call 625-8880 or visit www.mezzaninesf.com for more info. — Vickie Chang
Hip-hop legends like KRS-One and Chuck D are still devastated by the 2006 passing of close friend and associate Professor X from spinal meningitis. X (born Lumumba Carson) led X-Clan, the Brooklyn group known for spearheading an Afrocentric strain of rap under the banner of the "Blackwatch Movement." Its surviving members continue to record, and will headline a bill that also includes DJs Mr. E and Ren the Vinyl Archaeologist and performances by Humboldt's Potluck and Portland's Lifesavas on Friday, Feb. 15, at Mezzanine at 9 p.m. Admission is $15; call 625-8880 or visit www.mezzaninesf.com for more info. — Tamara Palmer
Craze is a Miami-based mixmaster with a shelf full of DJ battle titles and respect that spans from hip-hop and electro to breakbeat and drum 'n' bass denizens. He is leading "The Bass Sessions," a tour with four top national DJs: Atlanta's DJ Klever, another battle vet; Low Budget, the half of Philly's acclaimed Hollertronix duo with a passion for Bay Area hip-hop; and Detroit DJ Assault, who specializes in tunes about poppin' the p (a phrase whose meaning is easily gleaned when Assault is on deck). Earplugs are advisable for this low-end rumble on Friday, Feb. 15, at Temple at 10 p.m. Admission is $20; call 978-9942 or visit www.templesf.com for more info. — T.P.
Looking for something quirkier than Justice in your French dance music? Joakim fits the bill, cheekily described on MySpace as "pop/industrial/religious." Somewhat randomly, he even wrote a song for our fair "Palo Alto," a slow and faux-moody chime- and piano-led tune on his immensely fun 2007 album Monsters & Silly Songs. Portland's Glass Candy cooked up a sweet buzz with a handful of electro and disco tunes on the Italians Do It Better label's After Dark compilation, proving apt at covers (Kraftwerk, Bryan Ferry) and the originals for which they've gained a cult following over the years. Glass Candy performs live and Joakim DJs at "Are Friends Electric?" on Friday, Feb. 15, at Fat City at 9 p.m. Admission is $12-$15; call 252-7100 or visit www.blasthaus.com for more info. — T.P.
He's now based in Toronto, but most house music fans associate DJ Sneak (aka Carlos Sosa) with Chicago, where he began his career in the early '90s and rose to international prominence alongside such Windy City colleagues as Derrick Carter and Mark Farina (the latter now one of S.F.'s most in-demand DJs). Though he hasn't released an album or mix in more than two years, Sneak is working on new singles for his Magnetic label while producing fun joints that will never see official release, like his awesome "Sneak vs. RK" house remix of R. Kelly's "Playas Only." Hear these illicit tunes on Saturday, Feb. 16, at Ruby Skye at 8 p.m. Admission is $15; call 693-0777 or visit www.rubyskye.com for more info. — T.P.