- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 23, 2002

Blackalicious was once the cream of the underground rap crop, but the duo will soon break out with the debut of their major-label release, "Blazing Arrow."

The record, due out April 30, comes just after Blackalicious' stint on the Snocore Icicle Ball Tour, alongside Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, Nikka Costa and others.
The tour stops tonight at the 9:30 Club.
Not that gaining a high-profile worries the duo. With close to 15 years worth of rapping and producing, the team of Chief Xcel and the Gift of Gab (given names Xavier Mosley and Timothy Parker), sees the release of its second, full-length album as just another stage in its career.
"The best analogy I could probably use is, it's just development," Chief Xcel says via phone. "It would be the same as if you just examined your work in the 10th grade, then something you did in the 12th grade, and then looked at college and postgraduate work."
The two met at Kennedy High School in Sacramento, Calif., back in 1987 and have been playing and recording together in various incarnations ever since. They were a part of the early years of Solesides Records, working with Latyrx, a combo of DJ Shadow, Lyrics Born and Lateef the Truth Speaker, and released an acclaimed EP, "Melodica" under their own moniker in 1995. The follow-up, "Nia" gained major-label interest, with its literate, witty rhymes that moved away from the gangsta-dominated rap of the mid-1990s.
Much of "Blazing Arrow" was written while on tour with Ben Harper in the fall of 2000, and finished in the group's home studio, a work space they have been proud to keep as a home base.
"One of the biggest things we were thinking, was wherever we were going to go, we wanted to get into a situation and environment that didn't try and change our chemistry," Chief Xcel says.
That personal style encompasses a wide range of hip-hop influences and roams from funk to soul to harder rap, all the while maintaining a smooth sense of flow and fun, not unlike the Atlanta duo Outkast.
"We travel, we explore. Gab's biggest influences have always been lyricists who were extremely versatile," Chief Xcel says. "We've always felt that good music would be heard."
The two should find a willing audience at the Snocore Tour, which features everything from the experimental jazz of Karl Denson to the salsa rock of Ozomatli.
"It's cool because the crowds have been really, really great," Chief Xcel says. "It's a wide spectrum for Blackalicious, and I think the fans appreciate that and it's really great. It says a lot about the potential for music in ignoring divisions."

WHAT: Blackalicious as part of the Snocore Icicle Tour with headliners Karl Denson's Tiny Universe and others
WHERE: 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW
WHEN: 9 tonight
TICKETS: $25
PHONE: 202/432-SEAT



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