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Unagi emerges from the local hip hop underground 

Wednesday, Nov 22 2006
"If skills sold, truth be told/ I'd probably be, lyrically, Talib Kweli ," rhymed Jay-Z on his Black Album. It was somewhat of a backhanded compliment for the Brooklyn rapper who has achieved critical, if not overwhelmingly commercial, success since first emerging in the late '90s with Black Star, his short-lived collaboration with Mos Def and DJ Hi-Tek. Kweli's solo career has already spawned one of this decade's best hip-hop songs — 2002's Kanye West-produced "Get By" — and his striking flow and deft, perceptive wordplay often compares to prime Nas: He's hard without being gangsta, and "conscious" without coming off nerdy. Top it off with crack beats and grooves and you're in for a first-rate show on Saturday, Nov. 25, at the Fillmore at 9 p.m., when Kweli will unveil tracks from his forthcoming Eardrum. Admission is $25; call 346-6000 or visit for more info. — Michael Alan Goldberg

S.F.-based producer Unagi 's current album It Came From Beneath the SFC is a more vocal hip-hop affair than previous work Keepin' It Eel, which was abstract and instrumental, keeping him genuinely below the radar. SFC's laid-back approach dabbles in funk and jazz, owing a lot to the early '90s East Coast hip-hop sounds he reveres, from DJ Premier to D.I.T.C. Expect original cuts and remixes within Unagi's DJ set on Saturday, Nov. 25, at Argus Lounge at 10 p.m. Admission is free; call 824-1447 or visit for more info. — Tamara Palmer

Jeff Mills ' pummeling techno sets aren't for the fainthearted. The Detroit native's commanding prowess behind the decks — he's usually playing on at least three turntables — makes it easy to understand why so many techno DJs and producers continue to cite "The Wizard" (one of his early pseudonyms) as one of the most influential electronic music artists in the world. In recent years, the quiet, humble Mills has veered into more experimental territory, which includes an updated musical interpretation of Fritz Lang's 1927 film Metropolis, and his latest release, Blue Potential, a live recording of his collaboration with France's National Orchestra of Montpellier. Expect your jaw to hit the floor Saturday, Nov. 25, at Mighty at 10 p.m. Admission is $20 adv.; call 762-0151; or visit for more info. — Tim Pratt

The phrase "conscious hip hop" normally gets made fun of for its perceived softness, but semantically it's not a bad way to discuss Oakland group the Coup and Boston MC Mr. Lif . They're artists who actively challenge the status quo as passionately as more mainstream rappers discuss bitches and booze. While their subject matter is heady, the beats and grooves head straight for the low end, resulting in a concert that will work as much for those who crave a cerebral experience as those who want to get down and jam. Funk with feeling on Tuesday, Nov. 28, at the Independent at 9 p.m. Admission is $22; call 771-1421 or visit for more info. — Tamara Palmer


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