Very occasionally the natural aridity of L.A. extends to its concert offerings. You troll venue websites and thumb through the Weekly for our legendary Music Picks (just around the corner — keep thumbing), desperate for a real good show to check out, and you end up settling for Beardie and His Trust-Fundies at the Echomart.
This is not that week.
While sifting through the cornucopia of musical offerings, we suddenly stopped and said, "Hip-hop's having the best week ever! When it rains, it pours! Good things do come in eights! Hallelujer!" [Ed.'s note: Madea billboard reference that will be dated in a month or so.] So instead of choosing just a couple, we're listing the best of the hip-hop/R&B/beats bunch. If you're bored this week (or rolling in the desert among people with expense accounts), you have no one to blame but yourself. Get to steppin'.
Charlie Wilson and Babyface
If this were the early '90s, this concert would have sold out in less than an hour. Babyface, singer/songwriter/guitarist/keyboardist/everythingist, whose 20-plus-year-old slow jam "Whip Appeal" still sounds as fresh as 90 percent of new R&B, and Uncle Charlie, whose career has tripped from the Gap Band to Snoop Dogg, will put on a show.
April 15, Nokia Theatre
Not only is she just as good a dancer as MJ was, and a better singer than Madonna has ever been, Miss Jackson's also amassed 35 No. 1 hit singles, all of which she'll play for this tour. No special effects, just the spotlight she's always deserved.
April 15-16, Gibson Amphitheatre
Cam'Ron's that kid in the playground who swings so high the swing set lifts out of the ground. He just does not care, as his weird-'n'-wild wordplay attests. Who else but Killa Cam would name-check Roddy Piper? Cam'Ron formed Harlem hip-hop group Dipset with Freekey Zekey, Jim Jones and, later, Juelz Santana, all of whom are doing this show. Boy, oh, boy.
April 15, House of Blues
Ms. Lauryn Hill
Ms. Lauryn Hill is an artist with a gift, but she has been the victim of its curse as well as the recipient of its blessing. It's unrealistic to expect the L Boogie of 1998 to appear in the same form 13 years later. Still, she's been performing tracks from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill as well as old Fugees stuff. Just expect a different spin.
April 18, Club Nokia
The Kid named Cudi grew up fast after storming the stoner set with the trippy ambience of "Day and Night." After appearing on big ballers Kanye West and Jay-Z's albums, he became "Mr. Rager" for his sophomore album and got arrested for felony and possession of liquid cocaine. But prepare for a bright-eyed performance: Cudi recently claimed to be sober.
April 18, Hollywood Palladium
Mary Anne Hobbs
Point a finger at Mary Anne Hobbs for minding and bridging the gap between London's dubstep and L.A.'s beat scene. Hobbs has been a cheerleader for our local scene for quite some time now, coming over in January 2009 specifically to check out on the ground all the hugely talented artists from the area that she was hearing about in the U.K. She even produced a short film, West Coast Rocks, calling L.A. "the most exciting electronic scene on the planet."
April 20, Low End Theory
Now everybody wants to know the truth about a brotha named Quik. Truth is, DJ Quik is just as important to the West Coast as any other gangsta-era rapper, though he's remained in the shadows of other behemoths. The rapper-producer made his latest album, The Book of David, because he "really doesn't like hip-hop anymore." Makes sense — he's always been more inspired by Roger Troutman than by thugs.
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April 20, Key Club
Lil Wayne & Nicki Minaj
We don't care what anybody says; we've always loved Weezy. Though he seemed to be stumbling more often than soaring last year, landing in jail and supposedly addicted to syrup, he emerged from incarceration spitting like the Wayne no one could deny on the track "Six Foot, Seven Foot." Nicki Minaj, who finally seems to be ditching her vocal caricatures, joins.
April 22, Staples Center [rescheduled from April 21 due to Kings' playoff game]