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New Sounds Lost and Found: Lost and Found Generation's MC Sayre is hosting a 'Hip-Hop on Pacific Avenue' night at the Catalyst.

Dope Springs Eternal

MC Sayre hopes to turn hip-hop fans on to cool underground sounds with a new event at the Catalyst

By Mike Connor

MC Sayre from the Lost and Found Generation knows perfectly well that sometimes there's no accounting for taste.

For instance, about 650 people came out to see hip-hop legends De La Soul recently, but when new kids on the block Atmosphere strolled into town, twice as many people showed up clamoring to get into their show. And while Sayre has no apparent beef with Atmosphere, the ever-insurgent MC sees something wrong with this picture.

"If you think for four seconds that anything Atmosphere's done fucks with anything that De La Soul has done," he says, "you're backwards."

But unlike some music snob destined to bitch and moan in bitter obscurity forever, Sayre and Catalyst booking assistant Eddy Dees are trying to open fans up to a wider variety of hip-hop. Kicking things off with DJ Kutmasta Kurt (who's produced and remixed tracks for everyone from Kool Keith and the Beastie Boys to Linkin Park and Luscious Jackson) this week, they're hosting "Hip-Hop on Pacific Avenue," a 21-and-over hip-hop club night in the Catalyst Atrium.

Think hip-hop for the refined palette--live compositions of rare groove hip-hop and soul, breakbeat and down-tempo mixes. The idea is to bring in respected DJs from the hip-hop world and have them share a bit of what they're listening to.

"A lot of people in the hip-hop audience now have been listening to it for like three years," says Sayre, "so they have a really distorted idea of what is dope and what hip-hop is supposed to sound like. I think you see that in the music--that every new underground band tries to sound like Grouch. It's sort of boring in my opinion, but it's because that's what they think that underground hip-hop sounds like."

Sayre has watched the audience for local underground hip-hop dwindle in recent years, and attributes a part of the problem to this homogenization of the "underground" style.

"I myself am having a hard time finding a lot of interesting hip-hop to listen to--Jay-Z and Outkast, that's about it," says Sayre. "And it sucks because the music is getting better; the new Moonies record is the best I've ever heard them do. But I don't blame hip-hop fans for being turned off, because they've been burnt a lot. Especially underground hip-hop shows tend to be pretty wack, and the market is so flooded that it's hard to find shit that you like. There's a lot of shit out there, and a lot of it sounds the same."

With all the DJs traveling back and forth between L.A. and S.F., the odds of snagging sophisticated and accomplished DJs are very good. In addition to resident DJs like Tom LG and DJ Soulcrates, expect to see Peanut Butter Wolf (Stone's Throw) after Thanksgiving, as well as Reverend Shines from the Lifesavas and possibly Vitamin D, one of Doctor Dre's ghost DJs.

"I would like to make it a place like Milk," says Sayre, "a bar in the Haight where, on an average night, there's somebody playing some dope music instead of just a jukebox, which every bar here has. We're trying to get beyond the jukebox. What's cool is, the people who are used to the Catalyst, they can still go upstairs and play their Jimmy Buffet and play pool; the place is so large that you can have two things going on in two different environments. That's something that I see the new owners doing, is realizing what a unique and cool space the Catalyst can be, and really offer more than one thing in a night."

All the Way Live

If it's live hip-hop you're after, the new Catalyst owners are opening up the doors for local hip-hop for the first time on Saturday, Nov. 22. Lost and Found Generation, the Moonies and Duce Company will all perform at the "Welcome to Santa Cruz: Underground Hip-Hop Showcase." It's a diverse lineup, representing some of the most popular hip-hop Santa Cruz has to offer.

Sayre is confident that the three acts will draw a large crowd, and hopeful that the Thursday night showcases will catch on.

"I think it's on the verge of being too hip for Santa Cruz," says Sayre, "but we'll see."

Kutmasta Kurt performs on Thursday, Nov. 20, at 9pm in the Catalyst Atrium; $5, 21-and-over. Lost and Found Generation, The Moonies and Duce Company perform on Saturday, Nov. 22, at 9pm on the Catalyst stage; $6-$8, 16-and-up. 1011 Pacific Ave.; 831.423.1336.

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From the November 19-26, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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