Quannum world tour 2004 featuring Blackalicious Gift OF GaB , Latyrx , Lyrics Born , DJ SHADOW , Lateef and the chief , Lifesavas , joyo velarde and DJ D-Sharp at the Kool Haus (132 Queens Quay East), Monday (April 12). $32.50. 416-870-8000, 416-869-0789. www.ramosent.com Rating: NNNNN
Considering how poorly the major-label gambits of geekhop guru DJ Shadow and Blackalicious have turned out - the Blazing Arrow (Universal) disc didn't come close to cracking the gold standard, and poor Shadow has had to resort to bootlegging dusty funk singles - the Quannum World Tour 2004 that rolls into the Kool Haus Monday seems less like the triumphant return of conquering heroes than a circling of the wagons.
With no firm release date set for Shadow's overdue new studio album and an optimistic "early 2005" projection for the new Blackalicious disc, things could get worse in the Quannum world before they get better.
Especially since the once promising Quannum label seems to be surviving on critical high-fives for Lyrics Born's Later That Day and the Lifesavas' Spirit In Stone, neither of which has been making cash registers ring.
The good news is that Fourth Dimensional Rocketships Going Up (Quannum), the long-delayed solo debut of Blackalicious rhyme ripper Gift of Gab, is now set for release in May, and thanks to the Seattle production tag team of Vitamin D and Jake One, it's bangin'.
"When me and Chief Xcel come together as Blackalicious, there's a chemistry that only we can create," explains Gift of Gab after a rehearsal. "But we're both multi-talented individuals with our own musical visions. I wanted to make a record that was more lyrically oriented, so the beats needed to be a little more straightforward."
Gift of Gab was the musical director for Fourth Dimensional Rocketships Going Up.
"It was like, 'Yo, I want something that sounds like this....' Both Vitamin D and Jake One are so versatile and so incredibly prolific that they'd not only give you something in the right mood, but they'd come up with, like, 50 different beats to choose from."
The current plan for performances on the Quannum Tour involves a lot of spontaneous interaction between the different acts, with Gift of Gab stepping out from his role in Blackalicious to present three joints - Rat Race, The Writz and Just Because - from his solo disc.
"The show will be kinda like one movement with a number of interchangeable parts where people will be working in different combinations. It may go from Lateef and me to Lyrics Born and me, then maybe Lyrics Born and Lateef, and wind up with all of us onstage together."
When pressed for details about the upcoming Blackalicious album currently in progress, Gift of Gab is suddenly at a loss for words.
"It's an album dedicated to the art of hiphop from the perspective of b-boys who've grown into b-men. It's called The Craft, and we're about seven songs into it right now. I don't want to give away too much just yet, other than it's sounding really good so far, and I'm really excited about it." email@example.com