Most folks haven't heard anything of rapper Special Ed since he dropped the Brooklyn classic I Got It Made in 1989 at age 16. Now thirtysomething, Edward Archer is a composed and mature man, ready to call out the follies of today's hip hop game. His recent album, the slept-on Still Got It Made, was released on his own label, Semi Records. Despite tasty cameos from Snoop Dogg (who counts Ed as an influence) and top production mainly from "Hitman" Howie Tee (who produced I Got It Made), it's clear that Ed needs little more than a microphone to shine, even if mainstream radio and television aren't listening. Special Ed will be supported by Coolie High featuring Maestro Black and Spaztik Emcee, as well as DJ Koo-C and True Skool's resident DJ, Ren the Vinyl Archaeologist. Witness the blunted beats and downright retarded flows on Friday, Jan. 14, at the Elbo Room; call 552-7788 or visit true-skool.org for more info.
-- Tamara Palmer
As a member of Berlin's influential Basic Channel collective, Robert Henke, aka Monolake , has helped to shape contemporary electronic music as much as almost any artist working today: Should you hear something particularly subtle or graceful in a current dance track, chances are you have Basic Channel and its whooshing, dub-inflected minimalism to thank. But Henke's influence goes beyond mere stylistics. As the creator of Ableton Live, a software application that has become the industry standard for live performance, Henke has single-handedly altered the shape of live electronic music as it's played everywhere from barrooms to massive outdoor festivals. Of course, if you think brow-furrowed performers gazing intently into laptop screens doesn't sound visually spellbinding, you're at least partially right, but Henke's solo work compensates for a lack of theatrics with detail-intensive, full-spectrum sonics that shudder with machine rhythms and shivering harmonics. It'll work even better on Monday, Jan. 17, in the surround-sound confines of the Recombinant Labs Compound, where Montreal dub-techno whiz kid Deadbeat will open with a set of material from his forthcoming album on Pole's ~scape label; for more info, call 971-4276 or go to www.asphodel.com.
-- Philip Sherburne