Hip-hop couture 

Conduit’s latest concept concert goes after fashion.


The Chill

9 p.m., Revolution. $10

Featuring Epiphany and One Night Stand with Gina Gee and Sixstring, Suga City, 607, King Akeem, Swang, KisaCamie, Sean West and Dave Harmony. With g-force DJing and Maria V and Epiphany co-hosting.

Gone are the days of one mic and a stage and a crowd. Increasingly, local hip-hop has gone concept happy, with the scene's most prolific and entertaining rappers regularly offering themes and contests and extra amenities at their shows. Lately, the large rap collective Grim Muzik has offered free buffets at its shows. One-man whirlwind 607 regularly adorns his concerts with bizarre themes — “Nightmare after Christmas,” “Symphony of the Night” (a goth-inspired night that found the rapper in bondage wear). Then there's Conduit, the local label and collective. Featuring the duo Suga City, soon to release its album debut on national indie Koch Records, and led by rapper Epiphany, the crew is guiding the way in the evolution of concerts to events.

For the last year or so, Conduit has put its stamp on local hip-hop with regular installments of “The Chill.” Usually held monthly or bi-monthly, the concert series has become a brand for Conduit — a signifier of a laid-back night of rap, more urbane than crunk. Organized and usually hosted by Epiphany, the events evolve out of long-range planning sessions that start months in advance. MySpace pages, geared particularly to “The Chill,” pop up. E-mail bulletins come with regularity. Mp3 commercials circulate. Conduit collects e-mails relentlessly, and Epiphany, an engineer by schooling, could write a textbook on throwing events with all the data he's collected over the years. The variations among concerts, parties and events, the different sales approaches to different sexes and races — for every permutation of the business of rap, he has a theory.

On Saturday, as “The Chill” relaunches after a four-month hiatus, the rapper says that he's getting back to “the essence of performance, but using the concept to accessorize.”

He picks his words carefully. Dubbed the “Too Clean” edition, fashion rules the concept. Prizes will be awarded for the “flyest” dressed in the categories of “urban,” “grown and sexy” and “swag.” You can probably guess on the first one. “Grown and sexy” leans toward preppier attire, and “swag” is an abstract word that suggests confidence, so theoretically, anyone looking good in any style is eligible, though going against the grain might be the way to go. Also, the 50-Kanye-style fashion feud between Goines of Suga City and R&B crooner Sean West culminates with crowd response as the judge.

But to the essence: Roots-style, Epiphany headlines impressively with his band One Night Stand, featuring the hugely talented local diva Gina Gee and guitarist Sixstring. They'll be debuting new material. Long a staple of local shows, Suga City has been on hiatus lately, with Arkansas Bo living and working in Dallas. Saturday he'll return home and he and Goines will preview material from their forthcoming LP. Look out for laid-back, soul-infused jams. 607 manages to be everywhere at once. The local rapper, who'll appear in the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase, anchors the mid-part of the line-up. Plus, look for short sets from names new and familiar: BWare, King Akeem, Swang, KisaCamie, Sean West and Dave Harmony. Quite possibly Arkansas's best DJ and certainly its most diverse, g-force mans the turntables, and Maria V helps Epiphany with hosting duties.

The Chill, 9 p.m., Revolution. $10.                                                                                                                                       Featuring Epiphany and One Night Stand with Gina Gee and Sixstring, Suga City, 607, King Akeem, Swang, KisaCamie, Sean West and Dave Harmony. With g-force DJing and Maria V and Epiphany hosting.


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