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Hip Hop Helper

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Oh, hip hop, you hypocritical beast of bewildering burden: First, Em and Kim get back together, then Busta's bodyguard gets killed in a senseless shooting standing amongst the cognoscente of rap while filming a video, and now they're looking for Tony Yayo--just now two years out of jail--for information on an argument that preceded the shooting. Hip-hop headlines the past few weeks have continued to filch from the reputation of America's top genre.

But, as Carl Kenney might reference them, "those people" aren't all bad. Enter David Banner, the Mississippi rapper who has always managed to mix his Christian religion and cash references with big party anthems. You'd be excused for not readily assuming Banner is the most altruistic cat in rap: Check his gimme-gimme track "Crank It Up," where he rhymes "Y'all talk shit while we still winning/ She's on my dick cuz my rims kept spinnin'/ Then I bust up the block, the system that knocks/ I keep fuckin' yo bitches, while y'all keep bitin' the pot." Point taken?

But Banner is the force behind the Heal the Hood Foundation, a Jackson, Miss.-based organization dedicated to fundraising for those whose poverty made them especially vulnerable to Hurricane Katrina and the government's inept, lackadaisical response. In September 2005, Banner hosted a huge concert in Atlanta's Philips Arena for the foundation featuring some of the South's biggest names in hip hop. Now, Raleigh gets its turn.

Inflowential--an exuberant Raleigh quartet that recalls The Roots, Dilated Peoples and Slum Village with a beatboxer and live instruments--headlines the Lincoln Theatre Thursday, Feb. 9 with Justus League emcees Median and Cesar Comanche in support. Crusha Design Team and event organizer King Fuvi are also on the bill. King had hoped to do a benefit for victims since Katrina struck the Gulf in August. He saw Banner's foundation as a natural fit.

And, as far as I can tell, there's nothing contradictory at all about Troy King, who has been rhyming since 1995 as King Fuvi: He is as valiant a benefit organizer as has jumped into the Triangle Katrina-relief ring. According to King, Little Brother committed to the bill in early planning, but LB's opening slot for Fort Minor in D.C. obviously took priority. King says the Lincoln Theatre's management told him if Little Brother headlined the benefit, there would be no charge for the facilities; when Little Brother had to back out, however, King suddenly had to foot the charge out of his personal savings account (and I, for one, don't actually have that much in my savings account).

But King did it, and he's managed to assemble a fairly impressive roster that--at $10 in advance and $12 at the door, and given the Lincoln's capacity of 500--stands the chance to make money. I plan to be there trying to help, at least.

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