Beauty Bar comes with a full clip July 17. Legends Never Die, a promotions company that also hosted tributes to J. Dilla and Big L, celebrates the life and legacy of hip-hop pioneer Guru, the rapping half of Gang Starr. The East Coast icon whose name doubled as an acronym for Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal died from cancer in 2010 at the age of 48. Though the rap game has changed considerably since Guru’s peak years in the ’90s, he’s still regarded as one of the best lyricists to ever do it. With a distinct voice and monotone delivery, he kicked socially aware rhymes and imparted wisdom on songs such as the Dizzy Gillespie-sampling “Manifest,” staying-true anthem “Mass Appeal” and the cautionary “Discipline.” He also masterminded a four-part jazz-rap series, Jazzmatazz, which featured everyone from Donald Byrd and Roy Ayers to Herbie Hancock and Jamiroquai.
To do him justice at You Know My Steez—A Gang Starr Tribute & Guru Born Day Celebration, DJs will spin the duo’s classics with groovy, progressive instrumental band Brother Mister re-creating DJ Premier’s beats. Live artists will also pay homage. Although there won’t be birthday cake, they’ll be giving out copies of DJ Dielekt’s Guru mix.
If you’re Downtown, you’ve got a couple more options that night. Las Vegas’ own Hassan celebrates the release of his new EP, Da Fat Mamba, at the Bunkhouse. The hulking emcee is agile on the mic, spitting sharp-witted and hilarious rhymes as displayed on last year’s Fat, Black and Awesome. Joining him at the venue are Northtown’s Trade Voorhees, local punk outfit Alex & His Meal Ticket and Austin blues-rock band The Sideshow Tragedy.
Also on July 17, Madchild of underground Canadian crew Swollen Members rocks LVCS (with too many openers to name). Long before Drake, the raspy emcee helped put America Jr. on the rap map with 1999’s Balance. He hit a dark period and battled addiction later on, but he returned in 2012 with Dope Sick, sober but still as vicious as ever.
If you wanna swim up to the mainstream, you can catch J. Cole’s Forest Hills Drive Tour July 18 at the Axis at Planet Hollywood with Big Sean, YG and Jeremih. That’s basically half of the people you hear all day on the radio. While I’m not a huge fan of Big Sean, I love YG’s ratchet ignorance. And J. Cole’s one of the more thoughtful voices on the airwaves. He’s not without his flaws—Born Sinner was about as exciting as watching flies eat turds. Thankfully, he finally found his footing on last year’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive, shining on introspective and humble cuts such as “Apparently” and “Love Yourz.” Even if you don’t wanna go to the concert, your girlfriend will probably drag you there.
Last and certainly least: Former White Girl Mob member Lil Debbie hits Beauty Bar on July 25. Just look up her music videos—her ass cheeks will say more (or less) than I ever could.