Under Raps

By Quan Vu

Everyone's heard of Jay-Z, Eminem and Kanye West , but some talented hip-hop artists who've escaped such international attention have careers blossoming right here in S.D. Here's a trio of rhyme-spitting performers worth listening to.

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Blame One

Conventional wisdom says hip-hop is a young man's game, but good luck telling that to Vista rapper Blame One. At the ancient (by hip-hop standards) age of 38, he just released his sixth full-length album, Walk In The Sun, with beats from Brooklyn-based producer J-57.

Blame One prides himself on making what he calls "grown-man rap." Far from the drug dealer fantasies portrayed in much of hip-hop, his music takes a more honest, blue-collar approach, often focusing on parenthood, spirituality and the meaning of life. Of course, when he's not in the mood for maturity, he still likes to flex his verbal muscle with dizzying displays of battle-ready lyricism. See Blame One perform at Access Hip Hop, in Pacific Beach, October 5 at 3 p.m.

>>Blame One has received a San Diego Music Awards nomination for Best Hip Hop act.

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Marty MacPhly

Rappers like acting way cooler than they actually are. So, it's refreshing when you run across one willing to name himself after a nerdy, supporting character from Back to the Future. Hip-hop could probably use a little more self-deprecation and humor.

Thankfully, Southeast County rapper Marty MacPhly is one funny dude. His rhymes cover familiar ground - getting money, getting women, smoking herb - but they do so in new and interesting ways that make his audiences laugh. In his song "Hit Me," for example, MacPhly boasts that he "gets laid, you get laid-off," which may be he best use of parallelism in the history of the English language. See Marty MacPhly perform at UC San Diego's Porter's Pub October 26.

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Old English

You'd be forgiven if you thought a hip-hop act named Old English took their moniker from the popular malt liquor brand of the same name. In reality, inspiration for the name came from the fifth-century form of English most famously associated with the epic poem Beowulf.

As it turns out, the National City duo splits the difference between malt liquor and classic literature. Their music is rife with seedy tales that prove the "Nasty City" nickname right. On the other hand, they wrap these tales up in artful, moody soundscapes that mesh jazz, punk, garage rock, psychedelic and down-tempo influences. Both members of Old English are currently out of town, working on solo projects. Look out for their local performances in 2014.

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