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There are herds of rappers who proclaim to have rocked the mike from the Boogie Down Bronx to the Bay Area, but how many can say they wrecked shop from Buckingham Palace to East Berlin when they were unsigned and hella broke? With a few scribbled phone numbers and a sixpack of Top Ramen in their backpacks, Oakland's Mystik Journeymen became the first unsigned local hip-hop crew to tour Europe … and come back. “We just said, 'Fuck next month's rent — let's go,' ” says Corey. True DIYers, he and his partner put on their own shows, publish the aptly titled hip-hop zine Unsigned and Hella Broke and are currently completing a West Coast video documentary. After their first gig in Bristol, England, when a local hip hopper hooked them up with a freestyle bit on a London underground rap show, the phones lit up with heads offering rooms and info on other crews. As the duo covered Denmark, Belgium, Norway and Sweden, opened up for Notorious B.I.G. in London and guested on several rap albums, they were struck by the fervent devotion of Europe's hip hoppers. “In the U.S., it's a way of life, but out there they study Wild Style like it's the gospel,” Corey says. Mystik Journeymen release their EP 4001 next month.
When you think of Timco, sartorial splendor is one of the last things that comes to mind, but apparently someone was impressed with the band's wardrobe: A thief ripped off the trio's duds while they played the 9:30 club in Washington, D.C. “That area is a burned-out postapocalyptic disaster — we should have known better than to leave anything in the van,” says bassist John Wischmann. “The show was a real Salvation Army scene. All these people started giving us their T-shirts and clothes right off their backs.” Chip in for some new boxers and polyester at the Kilowatt on Sat, April 22, when Timco plays its first Bay Area gig after a 30-show tour to promote the recent Friction Tape … The barrage of local music hitting the stores this spring continues with Heavy Into Jeff, who celebrates the release of the cryptically named Fu at the Paradise Lounge Fri, April 21 … Sonya Hunter dishes out her Peasant Pie at Bottom of the Hill Thurs, April 20, with Paul K and Stephen Yerkey; look for the offspring of Flower S.F., Junk, the Broun Fellinis, Spinning Jennies and Chris Isaak on the shelves later this month … A new label to be based in S.F. — and helmed by Andrea Brokaw, as in the NBC anchorman's daughter — could be just the springboard for unsigned Bay Area bands. Dubbed Treat and Release, it has already sparked distribution interest at A&M and Geffen.
By Philippe Shepnick, Sia Michel