Rap Roots 

Before there was Eminem ...

10/4-11/22

You don't have to be a hip-hop head to realize that rap has changed over the years. Even to the untrained eye, it may seem that nowadays the world of rap is nothing more than a swirling sea of bling-bling commercialism, big pimpin', and brassy videos. However, there are those among us who remember a simpler time. A time when good music was fresh or icy or dope, and people shaved lines in their eyebrows and wore big clocks around their necks. A time before gangsta rap was a household term and P. Diddy was still Puff Daddy. For many, like local MC and founder of the California Alliance for Conscious Hip-Hop Expansion, Anthony Madrigal (aka T@X!), the years between 1984 and 1994 were the Golden Age of Hip-Hop, an era of artists with names such as Ice-T and Salt-n-Pepa. Yet all too often it seems many from Generation Y have the idea that rap begins and ends with Eminem and 50 Cent. Obviously, these misguided youth need some direction. This Saturday you can set the record straight by dropping off your Lil' Romeo or MC Lyte at the Rockridge Branch Library (5366 College Ave., Oakland) from noon to 2 p.m. for a little hip-hop history lesson. Led by Madrigal, the workshop -- part of a free seven-week Saturday series through November 22 -- will introduce twelve-to-eighteen-year-olds to rap's roots, going back to Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, the Sugarhill Gang, NWA, and other notable artists. (Really, everyone ought to know what Run DMC did before pushing Dr. Pepper on TV.) A few guest teachers, including a break-dancer and a turntable artist, will also get in the mix. Besides getting the 411 on everything from graffiti and B-boying to MCing and DJing, don't be surprised if your young MCs gain a greater appreciation for the global cultural phenomenon that is rap. But you won't need to do any arm-twisting for this lesson. Aside from plenty of hands-on projects, students will get a taste of music production, as they write and record raps for a group CD. Space is limited and advance registration is required. Call 510-597-5017 for more information and workshop schedule. -- Joy White

SUN 10/12

Sugar, Sugar

Sticky pictures

Who was the Mona Lisa? Was she the birth mother of the artist, Leonardo da Vinci? Was she a wealthy shopkeeper's mistress, or a nobleman's wife? Hey, whoever she was, she probably liked candy -- Mona Lisa may have had a weird smile but she wasn't no freak. So she'd probably appreciate the kids of Page Private School in Florida using 36 pounds of SweeTARTS candy to re-create Leonardo's masterpiece. Check out this and other sweet creative feats at SweeTART ART, the latest exhibit in the courtyard of MOCHA (the Museum of Children's Art, 538 9th St., Oakland), through Oct. 31. And from 1 to 4 p.m. today, you can create your own insulin-baiting installation with lots of Nestle's pastel candies. 510-465-8770. -- Stefanie Kalem

SUN 10/12

My Buddy, the Bunny

Be honest now. When was the last time you saw a black Bolivian bunny in a magic act? For that matter, when did you ever see a black Bolivian bunny? Thought so. Don't worry, Zappo the Magician can fix that. The award-winning Zappo appears this Sunday (1-2 p.m.) at the Berkeley JCC Theater (1414 Walnut St., Berkeley, $7 general, kids under two free) for one of his "Greatest Illusions Shows" with his stock-in-trade -- magic wands that somehow fail to work, disappearing pizzas (that's not hard to imagine), and the elusive rabbit. It's part of the Buddy Club's schedule of children's entertainment. To learn more: 510-236-7469 or TheBuddyClub.com -- Kelly Vance

SAT 10/11

Prospect Park

This Saturday between 3 and 6 p.m. at Samuel Merritt College's Health Education Center (400 Hawthorne Ave., Oakland), more than thirty admissions directors from America's foremost independent schools will be at the A Better Chance Annual School Fair. In December of 2002, Worth magazine named A Better Chance one of the nation's top thirteen educational charities, and on of its top 100 charities overall in terms of impact and fiscal success. The organization, founded in 1963, is focused on finding and recruiting academically gifted and motivated students of color, and helping them get the educational opportunities they deserve. Call 510-763-0333 for more information -- Stefanie Kalem

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