Bio-Rap 

Hip-hop science lesson

SUN 8/21

Naru Kwina's intention is not to blind you with science, but to pull your coat to its educational possibilities by fusing it with rap music. The resulting creation, called Hip Science, shows what happens when hip-hop's five elements meet the periodic table of the elements. Recently Kwina, aka Dr. Science, released an album directed at the grade-and-elementary-school set called Hip Science, on his own Hip Learning label. The ten-track CD features funky original music plus guest appearances from local hip-hoppers Azeem, Reign, Mama Earth, and Kasimu. Song titles like "Hair," "Blood," "Dem Bones," and "Digestion" offer a much cooler way to learn about the basics of biology than a moldy textbook, while proving that, as Kwina says, "learning can be fun." Here's a sample lyric: In our chest cavity, that's where we're going to start/blood is supplied to our bodies through the heart/holding a thought would be hard to maintain/we couldn't even think if we didn't have a brain.

Kwina's next experiment is Hip Science: The Human Body 101 Live, a musical theater performance developed in collaboration with the African Scientific Institute. The show debuts Sunday at 3 p.m. at Oakland's Malonga Casquelourd Center. Tickets $7-$10. 510-655-8078 or HipLearning.com -- Eric K. Arnold

SAT 8/20

Gypsy Tao

Alive and clicking

It seems supremely ironic that a night of spirited flamenco performance scheduled for Saturday at La Peña Cultural Center (3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) was canceled and replaced with a slightly more mellow but equally alluring documentary on the same subject. Tao Ruspoli's micro-indie film festival favorite, Flamenco: A Journey (a winner of Best of Festival Documentary at the Berkeley Film and Video and Los Angeles Cine-Nites festivals) was shot entirely on a small digital video camera during the director's six-month stay in Seville learning flamenco guitar. Along the way, Ruspoli captures not only some amazing marvelous performances, but some insights on the future of a dance that is truly "an alive form, continuing to evolve with a deep respect for the past," according to event producer Nina Menendez. The film is not planned for commercial release, so this may be your one shot to see it. $7. Info: www.lapena.org or 510-849-2568. -- Fritz Brantley

WED 8/17

Alameda Red Scare

Julia Park, an associate editor at Alameda magazine, has this thing about the color red. Her Red Hills Review publishes poets and prose writers in classic little-lit-mag fashion, and when she and her associates gather for literary events, they try to outdo each other by dressing in red from head to toe, "the more flamboyant the better," she says. The red tide sweeps into Books Inc. (1344 Park St., Alameda, 510-522-2226) this evening (7:30) when Red Hills stages one of its regular readings from its own pages. -- Kelly Vance

SUN 8/21

Sweet Shweta

Song of India at Ashkenaz

Although she recorded one amazing Indian-jazz CD, Anahita, world-traveling Indian singer Shweta Jhaveri is known as one of the younger generation's best classical vocalists and recording artists. For all-ages Ashkenaz' acclaimed TapRoots series on Sunday (8 p.m. lecture and demo by the artist and a 9:15 p.m. concert for $10), she explains and performs the traditional improvisational khayal and other Hindi song forms, accompanying herself on harmonium and tanpura, with tabla drummer Uttam Chakrabarty. Ashkenaz is at 1317 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley. For more info, visit Ashkenaz.com or call 510-525-5054. -- Larry Kelp

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