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The Groove
Santa Cruz hip-hop mavens Serendipity Project finish their tour with Del Tha Funkee Homosapien.

By Garrett Wheeler

After I decided last week to strap on my dancing shoes as a way to ring in the New Year, it occurred to me that my choice of music genres was going to be vast. So vast, in fact, that the number of styles worthy of a good dance-a-thon seem to be greater than the number of hours I could possibly devote each week to my effort. In Santa Cruz alone, you can find a band representing music from nearly every country across the globe, from Argentina to Zimbabwe, and still leave out the multitude of groups that fall under another important organizing principle: time period. After all, we all know a Mexican boy-band is not the same as an all-male Mexican mariachi group, even if their geographic origin is one and the same.

My theory of dance distribution, or who exactly dances to what, is one explained by generational division. I posit that the most likely factor for what kind of songs are on one's beloved dance mix (you know you've got one) is largely in direct relation to one's age, place of residence and social background. Relax, I'm not going to get all scholastic here, just bear with me and consider the following. If you were born in 1925, congratulations—you've been around a long freakin' time. But more importantly, the kinds of tunes I'd guess you listen to are most likely early big-band stuff, American jazz and swing. In one word, Sinatra. If, on the other hand, you were born in 1965, that would make you a teenager during the late '70s and early '80s, which leads me to predict that your dance-compilations are chock-full of the King of Pop, Mr. Michael Jackson. But where do today's youth stand, in the most general sense, when they gear up for a little Friday night shakedown? If my weekend research told me anything, it's that kids today want music that bumps, knocks, slumps and crunks. When I say hip, you say hop.

The modern rap craze was readily apparent last Friday at Moe's Alley as the venue packed a max-capacity audience that was looking to get loose, get down and listen to some live hip-hop courtesy of Santa Cruz's own Serendipity Project and Oakland's Crown City Rockers. Though they were technically slated as an opening act, Serendipity Project's performance was nothing short of house-toppling, blasting the crowd with an outburst of energetic, feel-good hip-hop. The Project recently returned home from a road tour alongside Del Tha Funkee Homosapien and Devin the Dude, among others. Needless to say, there's no doubt that Santa Cruz's little hip-hop-group-that-could chugged full steam ahead with the West Coast rap stars. Positive lyrics delivered with austere precision, a full instrumental band (a damn good one, too) and influences ranging from funk to jazz to reggae confirm that Serendipity Project won't be an opening act for long. The talent's there and the market's ready—I'll be the first to say this group is one good record deal away from some serious commercial breakthrough.

As the set winds down, MC Knowble sounds the battle cry: "Hip-hop's in the building/ if you like what you're hearing/ put your hands up to the ceiling!" And like a frantic call to arms, the place erupts as the iPod generation responds with reverence before resuming a dance party only they can truly understand.

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