Set the Smith's voice is all relaxed, resonant edge, which made him a credible old-schooler on 2004's The Example Part One (Chill Records) despite his evident youth on the cover. In fact he'd been rapping since the mid-'80s, a onetime child MC, tight with local hip-hop pioneers the IRM Crew (his father was their manager). If "They Don't Know" took an argumentative tone, it showed the former Upset the Locksmith to be an assured singer and hooksmith. Those strengths come to the fore on The Smithsonian Album (also on Chill Records), whose irresistible "All I Need" isn't quite knowing enough to admit the vulnerability of absurd overconfidence, but catches you up in its hypnotic lope anyway. "My Struggle" is a bout with self-doubt sobered by ambition, set to a perfectly melancholic quiet-storm loop. And "Da Da Da!" is a true album climax, an oddball shout-along with the IRM Crew's Kel C resurfacing just long enough to make you wish he'd come back full time. The release show features a solid lineup of local hip hop, including another IRM Crew alum, Truthmaze, along with DJ Snuggles, Adonis of the C.O.R.E., Headake tha Chosen, and Cue Dangerous (a.k.a. Old Boy), who co-produced on The Smithsonian. 18+.
Sat., Oct. 18, 9 p.m., 2008