ARTS Pick: Blackalicious

Blackalicious celebrates the 20th anniversary of Nia at the Southern on Thursday. Publicity image. Blackalicious celebrates the 20th anniversary of Nia at the Southern on Thursday. Publicity image.

Back on the beats: When Blackalicious’ first album, Nia, was released in 1999, critics praised the duo for their rap skills, production style, and ability to push hip-hop in a new direction. Following up with the equally compelling Blazing Arrow (2002) and The Craft (2005), Chief Xcel and Gift of Gab took 10 years to release Imani, Vol. 1 in 2015, and stayed true to their formula of positive vision, verbal dexterity, and lyrical eloquence combined with smart, expansive sonic beats. On the road to celebrate their 20th anniversary, the Sacramento group is sure to deliver its popular “Alphabet Aerobics.”

Thursday 1/23. $25, 8:30pm. The Southern Café & Music Hall, 103 S. First St. 977-5590.

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