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Beat Street
By Todd S. Inoue

Keeping Rap Alive:
Local producer assembles Urban Underground compilation CD

BY DAY, Keith Williams works as a test engineer for Apple Computer. During off hours, and on the Web, Williams searches for new rap talent. He'll make his discoveries known to the world in September when he releases The Urban Underground Vol. 1, a collection of 18 different Bay Area rap artists. Williams' goals are to help promote talented groups, and to land the acts a major label deal. "I've learned that nobody's schedule is like your schedule," he says. "I've been delayed by everybody, and my investors are getting cold feet." So cold that Williams took a second job to help pay for completion and distribution of Urban Underground.

The easiest chore would seem to be getting the acts. Wrong. Williams learned that when he approached bands he found intriguing, they became wary and turned down his invitation to help. Urban Underground is a major step in showing that his dedication to promoting good music is for real. "A lot of people don't know how the industry works; you have to do a lot of groundwork," he says. said Williams. "[Groups] are impatient; they expect things to happen overnight. Once this blows up, they will understand."

Urban Underground is the first CD to be enhanced with the new technology called CD + Graphics, which Apple will release in late August (Williams works with a couple of engineers writing the code for the software). CD + Graphics includes a graphics player and Quicktime movie player. As each song is played, the lyrics come up on screen. Or rap fans can view JPEGs and QuickTime movies of the different groups. The software, which will be available on the CD, is compatible with PCs, Macs and Windows 95.

Urban Underground is a real head-turner. Williams has unearthed some real ringers around the Bay Area. The production values are clean and worthy of car decks, especially the posse cut and first single, "Flesh." Rappers from this area include Kidd X, Plado (from Twisted Mind Kids), One Tyme, Mad Furter, Rasta and JP. The Bay Area is well represented by Spaztik, Sarkasm, Mali, SRR, Scribble, Lucky, X-Man and Acumen. East Palo Alto rappers include Natural Flava and Hannibal. To find out what's new with Urban Underground, bookmark the Web site.

Ajax to Reopen

From out of left field, San Jose's Ajax Lounge will reopen under a new name with Agenda's Jacek Rosicki managing. Rosicki, who recently signed the lease on the South First Street upstairs nightclub, promises more music and bigger names. He also plans on opening San Jose's "first and only tapas bar" and will welcome Agenda hand stamps inside Ajax and vice versa. Sept. 20 is the scheduled opening day. Booking will be by the usual Edge and Agenda suspects--Francis Delfino, Mike Sullivan, Jimmy Arceneaux, and Jove Sharpiro.

Bug in Your Ear

Some quick plugs for necessary shows coming up. Perennial heartthrobs Emily's Sassy Lime and the Pee Chees perform in Monterey at the Three Spirits Gallery on Thursday (Aug. 22). ... Jeffrey Halford performs his rootsy magic at Q Cafe in Palo Alto for a "Blue Monday" show on Monday (Aug. 26). ... Junk begins a weekly residency at Agenda this Thursday. ... My pick of the week: West Coast underground hip-hop gets no thicker than at Broke Ass Summer Jam. Pep Luv (of Hiero fame), Mystik Journeymen, Living Legends, the aforementioned Twisted Mind Kids, Fundamentals, Mic T., Aesop, the Dereliks, Aeropause, Cytoplasms, Eclipse, Illa Dapted and many more converge on the Alameda Saloon in San Francisco on Thursday (Aug. 22). A version of the show is due to appear locally soon.

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From the August 22-28, 1996 issue of Metro

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