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When: Fri., July 2, 9 p.m. 2010
Price: $10, $12

Profligate lifestyles are a hallmark of mainstream hip-hop, but in the backpacker scene, many artists still ground their authenticity in their principles. A prime example is Living Legends rapper Bicasso, who uses a spoken-wordy rap style, hews to political themes, and poaches his musical ideas from jazz or blues. He's a rare breed of emcee who started on drum machines but forayed into jazz, and, as a result, he's genuinely interested in connecting hip-hop to the entrenched lineage of black music. Bicasso runs Sunday night jam sessions at EastSide Cultural Center. He's recorded with Howard Wiley's Angola Project. He even helped conceptualize a multi-genre jazz band for the 2009 Malcolm X Jazz and Arts Festival. Seldom does a rapper maneuver so well through the jazz world, and still manage to cut his own cloth. Bicasso plays Friday, July 2, at Blakes on Telegraph (2367 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley) with The Understudies, Young Gully, and DJ RMC.9 p.m., $10-$12.

— Rachel Swan


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