The Suicide Kings 

The Suicide Kings

Picture this: You're onstage in front of a packed bar, holding nothing but a microphone and an arsenal of metaphors, with no beat to back you up. Most rappers would never try it. The three-man Oakland outfit Suicide Kings is one of the few spoken-word groups that can actually turn a bar out the way a furious punk band or a bangin' freestyle rapper would. It's all about winning combinations: a punchy rhyme style and a lot of asides, coupled with lyrics that hit so high on the gross-out meter you'll wriggle in your seat. Rather than court the muse and commit their poetry to print, the Kings instead deliver on this live CD -- you can really hear the punk, hip-hop, and stand-up comedy influences. Save for one song by Vallejo's Filipino punk band Eskapo, Suicide Kings is devoid of music, which doesn't matter at all: The rhymes kick hard enough to lodge in your brain and belt you in the solar plexus.

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