Diverse | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Diverse 

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Diverse's debut full-length, One A.M. (Chocolate Industries), is one of the best hip-hop albums of the last year, but though it's earned the Chicago MC plenty of underground acclaim, he's yet to blow up nationwide. But the nation's loss has been the city's gain: he's been playing local shows more regularly than ever. As the album demonstrates, Diverse is that rare hip-hop figure with both a firm grasp of the music's history and fundamentals and a willingness to partner with producers who ignore the strictures of commercial hip-hop--namely Rjd2, who offers some of his strongest work to date, and Prefuse 73. Cameos from Vast Aire, Jean Grae, and Lyrics Born--whose gruff, rapid-fire low-end flow on "Explosive" sets up Diverse's unusually melodic delivery for maximum impact--give One A.M. some extra juice, but Diverse ultimately gets the job done on his own. On the Madlib-produced "Ain't Right" he peppers the airy, jazzy groove with a hailstorm of syllables, while his soft-edged sputter perfectly complements Prefuse 73's rubbery synth textures on "Jus Biz." He performs here on a strong outdoor bill that's part of the Interchange Festival, a series of shows aimed at promoting voter registration. Tortoise headlines, Town and Country plays second, and David Singer & the Sweet Science open. A donation is requested. Wednesday, August 18, 5:30 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia; 773-227-4433.

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