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Underground hip-hop from the "far side" brings Tucson a positive vibe

By Kevin Smith

Thursday October 18, 2001

Times are changing. For hip-hop fans, this change is for the better.

Ten years ago, when a hip-hop show came to town, the police already had front-row seats. Now, as the hip-hop tour Cali Comm 2001 rolls into Tucson, a calmer, more responsible vibe is expected.

Concerts promoter Ty Carter said the change in the perception of hip-hop is due to the greater exposure people have to the music.

"People are more tolerable now and respecting of the music now than 10 years ago," Carter said. "It is the biggest musical art form right now."

Pajai, from the hip-hop group Souls of Mischief, added that new listeners equal new attitudes.

"We got a new generation right now," Pajai said. "People have a more relaxed attitude when they come to the shows. We had the cops come to our show last night, but they left and the show went on."

Another promoter for the Tucson show is Andrew Bagg, also known as DJ Cobra, a communications junior at the University of Arizona. He said the reason hip-hop shows are more acceptable today than earlier in the genre's existence is due to now-infamous names in the music industry making an impact early on.

"I think hip-hop has become more acceptable because of people like Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer back then, making it mainstream," Bagg said. "Right now, hip-hop is involved in everything. It has become part of our culture. People don't think it's taboo anymore."

Booty Brown of Cali Comm's headlining band, The Pharcyde, said he thinks one reason the bands are able to not squabble with one another - and the reason the tour is able to forge ahead - is because each band wants to perform its own material live.

"There's no beef; everybody's just concentrating on bringing their projects to life and getting them to work," Brown said. "If there's a problem, we stop and address the issue."

With hip-hop shows' reputations so changed, each performer had a different, positive idea of what a concertgoer should expect from his or her ticket.

"We are the livest band out there," Pajai said. "Nobody brings energy like us."

Members of The Pharcyde said they just try not to get too caught up when performing the final set of the night.

"We try to keep it going and keep the audience with us," Brown said. "We try not to lose anyone."

As for what Tucson can expect in the future of hip-hop shows, promoter Bagg is willing to try it again.

"I feel if we bring the talent to the city, people will want to come to the show," Bagg said. "If the fans continue to support us, we'll keep doing it."

The Cali Comm 2001 tour stops at The Rock at 136 N. Park Ave. tonight for an all-ages show, bringing The Pharcyde, Souls of Mischief, Planet Asia & Rasco (Cali Agents), Pep Love, guest DJ Kutmasta Kurt and Motion Man with it.

The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. For more information, call 629-9211. For tickets, call 321-1000.


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