Lip Service 

It's the rhymer and the rhyme

FRI 9/23

Cheap rum-and-pineapple drinks, slinky drum 'n' bass beats, and chicks with Suicide Girls tattoos were all highlights at a recent "Living Room" party in West Oakland's Noodle Factory, but there's no question that MC Aima Paule was the centerpiece. Even in a cadet-style khaki shirt and boring black jeans, she still looked more like a '40s noir heroine than a rapper. With her thick sausage curls, bow lips, and doe-in-the-headlights eyes, she has the same glacial beauty as a young Liz Taylor or Lauren Bacall, but seems to take no notice of it. Nor did Aima pay much attention to the cult of adoration she has generated at the Living Room, where the MC gamely played hostess, drumming up applause for DJs Trinity and LP, and rapping breezily about education, revolution, and that hangin'-on-ass dude who doesn't respect your body -- which gave her enough material to fill more than 24 bars. Girls twisted their legs in freaky-deak dance moves while Aima spluttered her rhymes, and when she put her mic down, the applause was thunderous. Aima flashes on all the shit that preoccupies most conscious rappers -- stuff related to the prison-industrial complex and the disparities of urban life -- but manages to not sound like a schoolmarm or a Jeremiah. In fact, her flow is soft and sultry enough that if you couldn't understand the words, you might think she's telling you about how the stars make transparent ripples over the isle of Capri. In March, she won the inaugural Lip battle at Club Anton, a forum in which female emcees face off for cash prizes, studio time, and local radio play. This Saturday, the champ returns to defend her title in what's billed as an "all-grrrl night of badass MCs slingin' dat LIP." Hosted by the infectious Sis Nau-T, this event also features DJs Olga T and Jamin spinning hip-hop, old school, and two-step. The battle kicks off at 10 p.m. and costs $8 before 11 p.m., or $12 thereafter. -- Rachel Swan


Lit Happens

Let's Get Sirius

Prolific fantasy author and comic Terry Pratchett has a lot to laugh about, with some forty million copies of his novels having been sold so far. Then again, he publishes as many as two books per year. He reads from Thud! at Cody's Telegraph (Wed., 7:30 p.m.). ... From Jamaica to Georgetown, award-winning poet Mark McMorris -- author of Moth-Wings and other volumes -- writes of islands and empire. Meet him in UC Berkeley's Maude Fife Room (third floor, Wheeler Hall) (Wed., 8 p.m.). ... Help those who can't read this paper: Support Oakland's Second Start Adult Literacy Program and similar library-based projects by attending a benefit dinner at the Jack London Square Waterfront Plaza Hotel, with a lecture by The Confessions of Max Tivoli author Andrew Sean Greer. For details, call 510-339-8210 (Thu., 6:30 p.m.). ... Mills College instructor Chana Bloch, whose book Mrs. Dumpty deserves a prize for its title alone, reads with fellow poet Richard Silberg at Oakland's Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit Blvd. (Thu., 7 p.m.). ... Count the miles with Elliot Hester, syndicated columnist and ex-flight attendant, as he reads from Adventures of a Continental Drifter at Barnes & Noble Oakland (Thu., 7:30 p.m.). ... Make way for the rainy season at the tenth annual Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival, featuring Robert Hass, Joanne Kyger, Brenda Hillman, and dozens more, plus exhibits and live performances at the Downtown Berkeley Farmers' Market, Martin Luther King Jr. Way at Center St. (Sat., 10 a.m.). ... Killing and cooking dogs: Is it animal abuse or ethnic-culinary protocol? Berkeley-bred USC professor Alison Dundes Renteln discusses The Cultural Defense, her book on heritage and the courtroom, at Black Oak (Sun., 7:30 p.m.). ... From Jamaica to Barnard College, poet Claudia Rankine writes about love and loneliness. Meet her in the Mills Hall Living Room at Mills College (Tue., 7 p.m.). ... Envelope-pushing podcaster and legendary local cyberwiz R.U. Sirius, aka Ken Goffman, presents Counterculture Through The Ages at Cody's Telegraph (Tue., 7:30 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus

SAT 9/24

Zoo Crew Chew

Ever wonder how a Malayan fruit bat chows down? Dying to know how a meerkat gets its grub on? Does a flying fox eat in the air or on the ground? Those questions and more will be answered this Saturday at the Oakland Zoo's Breakfast with the Beasts. Enjoy a specially prepared hot breakfast at the Island Cafe, then it's on to the main course: observing zoo staff dole out munchies to various critters of all shapes, sizes, and appetites. Bring a donation of fresh produce and receive a free train ride. The event is free with paid zoo admission, but you will have to pay for your own cafe meal. As Simon and Garfunkel once sang, it's all happening 8 a..m. to 10 a.m. at the zoo, located off Highway 580 at 9777 Golf Links Rd. The first 200 visitors admitted will get to feed the elephants by hiding treats in their habitat. For more information, call 510-632-9525 or visit -- Eric K. Arnold

9/26, 9/27

Naked Melody

Intimate Brazilian music at Yoshi's

In 2000, Luciana Souza recorded Duos, which resonated strongly with fans of both world music and Latin jazz. Five years later, the singer is back with her recent release, Duos II, which isn't so much a sequel as a continuation of a longstanding Brazilian tradition of vocal and guitar combinations. Tonality, rhythmic melodicism, and expressive minimalism are the keys to Souza's take on this basic but exquisite style, covering masters like Caetano Veloso and Antonio Carlos Jobim as well as her own compositions. Stripped to the bare essence of the form, the music takes on an entirely naked, quite romantic quality. Souza flits effortlessly from uptempo samba to torchy ballads, wrapping her vocal cords around Portuguese phrasing, scatting ad libs, and playing perfectly off the emotive inflections of the guitar. This South American songbird comes to Yoshi's (510 Embarcadero West, Oakland) Monday and Tuesday along with longtime associate Romero Lubambo, of whom she says, "I enjoy the natural way in which we phrase together." 8 and 10 p.m., $10-$16. or 510-238-9200. -- Eric K. Arnold


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