Royce Diamond, Louiz Rip
Rappers tend to be our most prolific musical artists, and neither Royce Diamond nor Louiz Rip is an exception. Both released solo albums in the last year (Mirrors and Smoke and Joe Average, respectively), in addition to a host of collaborations with other local rappers and beat makers. The two come together Friday to celebrate the release of their recent five-song collaboration, Rhyme Dotte County. The EP is a winning effort, but there are a few things these performers bring live that a recording can't quite capture. Rip's hulking physicality (the dude is, like, 12 feet tall) almost contradicts how quick and funny he can be. And Diamond's flow and energy seem to accelerate with every performance.
Friday, May 10, at RecordBar (1020 Westport Road, 816-753-5207)
Martin Sexton gets lumped in with the folkies, which is fair — his acoustic guitar and elastic, soulful voice situate him somewhere between the bubbling folk of Ben Harper and the deft roots pop of John Hiatt. But Sexton's songs tend to be more complex — both musically and lyrically — than those of Harper, Jack Johnson, Ray LaMontagne and the like. He's also more overtly political, having expressed support for the Occupy movement and criticizing the Obama administration in ways it's hard to imagine, say, John Mayer doing. In other words, he's like an old-school folk singer, but with richer, prettier melodies.
Friday, May 10, at Riot Room (4048 Broadway, 816-442-8179)
Ra Ra Riot
My experience with Ra Ra Riot is that each of the Brooklyn-via-Syracuse act's albums has one unstoppably addictive track — "Can You Tell" on the group's 2008 debut The Rhumb Line; "Boy" on 2010's The Orchard — surrounded by about nine inoffensive but forgettable chamber-pop songs. On this year's Beta Love, the group has largely ditched the cellos and violins for a synthier electro-pop sound. I have yet to find my jam, but I'm sure it's on there.
Wednesday, May 15, at Riot Room (4048 Broadway, 816-442-8179)
Fabolous and Pusha T
Fabolous has been pretty quiet since 2009's Loso's Way, which netted him a hit with "Throw It in the Bag." The sequel, Loso's Way 2, arrives this summer, and he's touring with Pusha T, formerly of Clipse, to support it. Pusha's transition to solo performer hasn't been exceptionally smooth — his 2011 mixtape Fear of God was just OK — but given the strength of Clipse's output, he's allowed a few missteps. I maintain high hopes for his official solo debut, My Name Is My Name (which I'm pretty sure is a reference to a Marlo line in The Wire), out in July on Kanye West's G.O.O.D. label.
Monday, May 13, at the Midland (1228 Main, 816-283-9921)
For his record-breaking 2012 Hostile Takeover Tour, Tech N9ne played 95 shows in 104 days. With a mere 50 shows in two months, he's taking it easier in the first half of 2013 — sort of. This tour, called the Independent Powerhouse Tour, caps with this performance in Tech's hometown. Joining him on the bill are his Strange Music labelmates Brotha Lynch Hung, Krizz Kaliko, Kutt Calhoun, Rittz and CES Cru. "KC Tea" all night, baby.
Saturday, May 11, at the Midland (1228 Main, 816-283-9921)
Former Kansas Citian Phil Diamond now lives in Los Angeles, but he's still doing Scammers, the dark, crooning, one-man synth-pop project he started while living here. Actually, Scammers' new album, Convention, is a lot better than his scuzzy, lo-fi KC recordings; it's polished and relatively melodic, like a super-weird Echo and the Bunnymen album. Diamond is touring like crazy this spring and summer, and on Thursday, he's back downtown, at the Brick, along with Otter and Umberto.
Thursday, May 9, at the Brick (1727 McGee, 816-421-1634)