One of the most lamentable facts about the ’90s was the inability of underground hip-hop to register even the slightest blip on the mainstream radar. While gangsta rap rose to pop-culture ascendancy – ruling Top 40 charts and pretty much directing the speech, fashion, and reference points of every American teenager alive – tons of hip-hop collectives honed their skills in underground club battles and tours, rarely rapping about 40s/getting shot and relegated to obscurity because of it.

Hieroglyphics, the veteran Oakland outfit whose founding members include awesome emcee genius and Ice Cube cousin Del tha Funkee Homosapien, are alternative hip-hop at its best, and they sound as fresh now as they did 10 years ago.

Tue., July 15, 8:30 p.m., 2008
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Niamh Wallace