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This week: Dirtwire, Kamaiyah, and Slaptop

If you like Lil’ Kim,
Then you’ll like Kamaiyah

There’s a dearth of women in the hip-hop world, especially badass, no-holds-barred ones. Fortunately, the Bay Area has Kamaiyah. Though relatively new to the scene, the 22-year-old popped in 2015 with her hit single “How Does It Feel,” and has since dropped the debut mixtape A Good Night in the Ghetto and made appearances on a number of songs by well-known rappers like Drake, YG, and E-40.

Like Lil’ Kim — who also has a low-pitched, fibrous voice — Kamaiyah is a tough cookie who doesn’t give a fuck about social norms and societal expectations. In “Niggas,” she proudly flaunts her playa ways, bragging about all the men who want to be her boyfriend, but who “can’t tie [her] down.” You can hear sonic similarities to Lil’ Kim’s “Magic Stick,” wherein the self-proclaimed “Queen Bee” boasts about being “the baddest chick,” warning listeners that when it comes “to sex, don’t test my skills.”

Both emcees also rap similarly. Unlike, say, Nicki Minaj, who likes to switch up her speeds and inflections, Kamaiyah and Lil’ Kim deliver their lines with equal measures of emphasis and elan, sort of like a punch that lands squarely in the middle of someone’s face.

S.F. Spotlight: Showdown by Dirtwire

This 12-track album by Bay Area electronic-fusion band Dirtwire is a percussion-lover’s wet dream. Comprised of David Satori from Beats Antique, Evan Fraser from Bolo, and Mark Reveley from Jed and Lucia, Dirtwire takes exotic and obscure instruments like the theremin, jaw harp, whamola, clavinet, and mellotron, and combines them with electronic-music flourishes to create wholly unique sounds.

On the mostly instrumental album, you’ll hear everything from Spaghetti Western guitar chords à la Ennio Morricone to go-go, a call-and-response subgenre of funk that originated in Washington, D.C., in the 1960s and ’70s.

Listening to Showdown is akin to combing through crates of old vinyl at your local record store, except without all the dust and crumbling liner notes. It’s also an educational endeavor of sorts, and before you’re done listening to the record, you might even be able to tell the differences between slide, electric, and bowed banjo.

SF Weekly Song of the Week: “Another Life” by Slaptop

This bouncy house track is so infectious and upbeat, it’s hard to tell that it’s about a girl who feels slighted by a dude.

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