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Beat Street
By Todd S. Inoue

New Hi-Fi Lounge Gears up:
Preston and Papp take the reins at Scalawag's

HEARD THE LATEST? Scalawag's in downtown San Jose turned its keys over to popular DJs Rick Preston and Julius Papp, and the duo rechristened the nightspot the Hi-Fi Lounge and moved all the Usual dance nights there. The staff at Toon's next door will take over day-to-day management while Scalawag's owners step to silent-partner status.

The lineup goes like this: Tuesday is Atomic Flow with hip-hop, trip-hop and rare groove; Wednesday is Level Vibes, reggae and dub with Robert Rankin' and Spliff Skankin'; Thursday is the Usual's popular house-music night, Velvet Shop; Friday is rare groove and acid jazz with Soul'd Out; Saturday is Sugah, featuring Kwai, JJ, and Julius Papp. Sunday is Quench with Spun and Ryan Tapia.

Julius and Rick act as "entertainment directors." "We're like Julie on the Love Boat," Preston cracks. "We're setting up different nights with guest DJs from all over the world. We're trying to make the club a comfortable place where clubheads can hang out any night of the week."

Structural changes include revamping the sound system and turning the pool-table area into a lounge, creating a front-bar area. With proper promotion, the Hi-Fi could replace the dance-club void left by Club Oasis. "We're providing something entirely different from the other clubs downtown," say Preston. "It was presented as an opportunity, and it's the best opportunity I've been presented since I've been in this town." The grand-opening festivities begin with a private cocktail party on Saturday (Oct. 5), after which the dance floor goes full force, six days a week.

Hardcore to Softball

Attended the Gavin-sponsored Sessions, a hip-hop convention at Oakland's Henry J. Kaiser Auditorium this past weekend. The turntable showcase, featured performances by the Beat Junkies' J-Rocc, Babu and Rhettmatic, and the Invisible Scratch Pickles' Q-Bert, Mixmaster Mike, Apollo and Shortkut. The Pickles rocked one of their impressive three-man aural pastiches, with one member scratching a bass line, the other eking out a rhythm and the third soloing over it. The other highlight was hearing Keith Clinkscales, CEO of Vibe magazine, drop a state-of-the-union address about hip-hop culture. In a reference to the anti-rap backlash, gaining steam since 2Pac's death, Clinkscales issued a prophetic warning: "We just got done acknowledging 2Pac's death, and we already have articles proclaiming the death of rap. They're looking at gangsta rap and saying that gangsta rap is all rap, and the whole thing dies."

Clinkscales issued a litmus test, which could just as well apply to punk rock: try to put on a concert these days. "Our enemies aren't looking to hold hip-hop down; they're looking to eradicate it," Clinkscales said. "These guys riot real quiet, like a thief in the night. They're mad about O.J. Simpson, affirmative action, the Republican backlash, and mad about their age-old nemesis: hip-hop and its lyrics. How are they going to riot? Through laws and legislation, media scrutiny, through restraint of commerce and parental stickers."

Less impressive was a meeting between writer Nelson George and Jive/RCA head Barry Weiss. It was an hour-long Jive/RCA commercial, with a little tag for George's new book. Weiss spent much of his time emphasizing how much Jive/RCA respects its artists' talent and vision. A question arose about Jive artist Soulz of Mischief, possibly one of the Bay Area's brightest crews. Without explanation, Weiss stated the group was dropped from the label. George dodged the controversial questions about artists' monies and ownership of property, opting instead for a Oprah-sweet conversation. A recent MTV report on rap artists who sign bum deals featured Jive employee Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest, who bemoaned the amount of earnings he received in 1994 for the seminal album Low End Theory: $32,000. The meeting was slow-pitch softball at its worst.

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From the October 3-9, 1996 issue of Metro

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