Still in the groove, Blackalicious plays Hard Rock Saturday

Blackalicious
Gift of Gab and Chief Xcel are Blackalicous.

Blackalicious, a venerable hip-hop duo bound for Lake Tahoe, benefited from some of Harry Potter’s black magic.

“We are really blessed to still be in this game after 25 years,” said Gift of Gab, who with Chief Xcel are Blackalicous, which released its debut record in 1991. “We are still out there and still passionate about making some of the best hip-hop that’s out there.”

Appropriately named, Gift of Gab is a brilliant lyricist. His song “Alphabet Aerobics” is a tongue-twisting masterpiece. During an appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” Daniel Radcliffe, the English actor who portrayed Harry Potter, proclaimed his love for American rap. He went on to speed through “Alphabet Aerobics” so adeptly that the studio audience roared to its feet.

Blackalicous released the song in 1999.

Fans who attend Blackalicious shows nowadays are a “mix,” Gift of Gab said. “We definitely have our core base and thank God we are still getting new fans. We had that thing with Daniel Ratcliffe and that put a whole new generation onto us.”

Longtime and new fans get the chance to see Blackalicous at 10 p.m. Saturday in Vinyl showroom at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Ticket sales have been moving quickly.

“We love coming to Tahoe and the fans there are great,” Gift of Gab said. “The only thing I don’t like is the snow. We are bringing what we do. We are here to hypnotize the audience and give them an experience to remember.”

Gift of Gab and Chief Xcel met when they were high school students in Sacramento. After graduation, Gab move back to his native Los Angeles and the duo wrote songs over the phone. He eventually moved back to Northern California and the two began serious musical collaborations as students at UC Davis.

While there are many projects for each, the duo has continued to perform together at least once a month. A new album is in the works.

“Right now Blackalicous has about 50 songs we’re sitting on and were still making new ones,” Gift of Gab said. “We’re finding the gems and making it bullet proof. Hopefully soon we’re going to cut it down to the best 14 joints and put them out on an album and the rest might come out in the future as B side songs.”

Current events are the inspirations for new songs, he said.

“I’ve lived in Oakland since 1997,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s related to Trump, but it almost feels like they are moving the poor people and lower middle class out and trying to define Oakland as a place for only rich people and upper middle class people financially can live. To me, that’s just not right.”

Gift of Gab said artists, athletes and everyone else should speak their minds about issues.

“It’s a role anyone should take,” he said. “Sometimes people are assholes and they need to be checked. People are racists and need to be checked. Everyone should be outspoken. To me, that’s common sense. Don’t talk to me like you don’t want to be talked to because I’ll give you the same energy that you’re giving me.”

– Tim Parsons

Blackalicous
With: Heatbox, Lateef the Truthspeaker, Galactik Vibes & Connected, DJ DubFyah
When: 10 p.m. Saturday, March 24
Where: Vinyl, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe
Tickets: $22 in advance or $25 on the day of the show
Must be: 21 or older

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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