Critic's Choice for the week of June 22-28, 2005 

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.

HIP-HOP ROYALTY

Run-DMC may be the Kings of Rock, and Michael Jackson may be the King of Pop, but Slick Rick is hip-hop's undisputed ruler. And as he once proclaimed, The ruler's back! Finally free from a harrowing threat of deportation that had him on INS lockdown for almost two years, the London-born, Bronx-raised onetime member of both the Get Fresh and Kangol crews is ready to splash on the Polo cologne, break out the bejeweled eyepatch, and say La-di-da-di we like to party once more. Yes, you heard correctly: The man responsible for "Children's Story," "Mona Lisa," "The Show," "Hey Young World," and countless other timeless rap classics will be in the house (@Seventeenth, to be precise) Saturday night, demonstrating the art of storytelling live on stage. It's 25 bones to get in -- no sneakers or athletic gear, but Kangols, Cazals, Ballys, and gold rope chains are a-ight, yo. At17th.com (Eric K. Arnold)

WORLD

While he has been far busier leading small kirtan chanting groups in recent years, Jai Uttal has reconstituted his world-fusion Pagan Love Orchestra for a Saturday concert at Berkeley's Ashkenaz, where Indian and world-music fans can dance themselves toward enlightenment. The ten-member electric band features Uttal on harmonium, electric guitar, and dotar (a sarod-like Indian stringed instrument); he also sings, chants, and leads his group through infectious dance rhythms blending rock and African, reggae and Indian. More than a decade after he launched the group to play what he refers to as "world spirit music," the Pagan Love Orchestra remains one of the Bay Area's freshest musical entities. $13-$15, 9 p.m. 510-525-5054. (Larry Kelp)

JAM SESSIONS

Taking up the mantle of hybrid new-school jazz groups like Broun Fellinis and Crown City Rockers, the style-leaping jam session Stylus incorporates turntables and digital effects with live instrumentation by Bay Area musicians. This Friday's showcase at Club Six (60 Sixth St., SF) features 4OneFunk on the ones and twos, Kenny Brooks on tenor sax, Noble House Records' extra-funky Lou Soprano on bass, and drums by 808 Band's Big G. Dubbed "A Live Musical Journey Through the Foundations of Hip-Hop," the event will be hosted by emcee Pep Love of Hieroglyphics. This musical journey gets crackin' at 9 p.m. and costs $10, or $5 if you get there before 10:30 p.m. ClubSix1.com (Rachel Swan)

BLUNT-WORTHY HIP-HOP

Q: What's madder than Madlib? A: Madlib performing live, along with the Stones Throw posse. The Left Coast rapper, composer, and producer behind Madvillain, Jaylib, Quasimoto, Yesterday's New Quintet, and a whole lotta other blunted but brilliant stuff comes to SF's Mighty Thursday night along with Medaphor (aka M.E.D.), who has just put out his debut solo album, Push Comes to Shove. But wait -- that's not all! On the wheels of steel, you'll find not one but two superstar DJs: ST head honcho (and onetime Bay Area resident) Peanut Butter Wolf, and J. Rocc of the World Famous Beat Junkies crew. Now that's a lineup you can't beat with a baseball bat. $20, 9 p.m. Mighty119.com (E.K.A.)

SAMBA DIVAS

In Brazil, she is called the godmother of samba for good reason. As a singer, Beth Carvalho is blessed with a voice that cuts through with clarity and definition over supercharged drums that beat out the pulse of her carnival-happy sounds. Her latest album is a live date titled A Madrinha do Samba that displays her vitality to full advantage. In celebration of her forty-year career, she appears with her entourage at the Herbst Theater in SF Saturday night. $25-$55, 8 p.m. 415-392-4400. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)

SEDUCTIVE EMCEES

What most likens Cali Agents' Planet Asia to Wu-Tang Clan's Inspectah Deck is the confidence in their respective deliveries. There's no doubting the seductive powers of both emcees, with their rakish swaggering and self-consciously cool raps. Recently signed to the indie hip-hop label Battle Axe (along with brethren DJ Drez, Swollen Members, and Abstract Rude), Planet Asia is avoiding major label bureaucracy, but still putting out tracks that could hold their own against anything on Def Jam or Tommy Boy. Come see both these legends perform at True Skool's Something to Prove Tour Friday at SF's Mighty. The show kicks off at 10 p.m. with DJs Ren and Mr. E, MC Uptown, and the Gang Starr affiliate Afu-Ra, who is marking the release of his third album, State of the Arts. $12. Mighty119.com (R.S.)

CLASSICAL

For those not averse to slumming in the city, San Francisco Symphony's summer festival of American music is a must-see. Starting with two semistaged Gershwin musicals Thursday through Saturday nights, the Thomashevsky Project next Wednesday (June 29) sings from the heart of the festival, as our own Michael Tilson Thomas demonstrates how Broadway and the "American musical" grew out of New York's Yiddish Theater founded by his grandparents. $35-107, 8 p.m. 415-864-6000 or SFSymphony.org (Jason Victor Serinus)

LATIN ROCK

On their latest album, Cronicas de un Laberinto ("Chronicles of a Labyrinth"), the Latin alternative band Jaguares lay down songs of love and despair. Led by singer-songwriter Saul Hernandez, the Spanish-speaking titans roll into the Fillmore Thursday night to prove they can still bash out a tune and send out a strong message like "Hay Amores Que Matan" ("Love Kills"). $45, 8 p.m. 415-346-6000. (J.C.V.)

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