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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

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Arts + CultureMusicUnder the Stars: 20th Street Block Party lineup drops,...

Under the Stars: 20th Street Block Party lineup drops, Jazz is Dead funks it up

Plus: New Danger Mouse and Black Thought album is the stuff of Gods, and Tomu DJ's 'Half Moon Bay' brings future-hymns.

Under the Stars is a quasi-weekly column that presents new music releases, upcoming shows, opinions, and a number of other adjacent items. We keep moving with the changes, thinking outside the margins.

We are quite chuffed about the line-up for this year’s 20th Street Block Party. Local organizers at Noise Pop have moved the outdoor music festival to a new location off Valencia Street. On October 15, expect established and rising Bay Area-based music acts like Destroy Boys, The Seshen, Sour Widows, Juicebumps, and The Umbrellasall acts that we have covered in the past couple of years.

Here at 48hills, we are more than stoked for being ahead of the curve, forever bringing you dynamic talent from The Bay. We hope to see you all at the festival, which is a benefit for La Cocina and 826 Valencia.

You can go here for a full list of the performers. The outdoor music festival and SF street market remain free to attend for guests of all ages, but attendees must RSVP online in advance here.

OK. Let’s get it!


Adrian Younge, the owner of the Linear Labs boutique record label and analogue studio, and fellow multi-instrumentalist Ali Shaheed Muhammad co-run the Jazz Is Dead platform.

They are both currently on the cover of DownBeat—but something Younge said in the magazine way back in 2020 still rings true:

“Hip-hop serves as a conduit to the past. If it wasn’t for hip-hop, there would be a lot of music that I wouldn’t know. If it wasn’t for hip-hop, I wonder if I would have even known who Roy Ayers is. A lot of times in black culture, when we are done with something, we don’t go back. Hip-hop kinda changed that. Hip-hop is vinyl culture taken to the next level.”

When Jazz Is Dead comes to San Francisco on Thu/25 to perform at August Hall, the history and talent presented over one evening will make it the once-in-a-lifetime funky history lesson of which cratediggers around the world dream.

Katalyst, Henry Franklin, Doug Carn, and Brian Jackson (who recently released some mind-blowing new music for the BBE imprint) will all be performing live, alongside the two torch-bearers.

Many people are familiar with Jackson’s work alongside poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron, who Jackson met during Jackson’s freshman year of college. The duo collaborated on nine albums, including Pieces of a Man and Winter in America. Throughout the 1980s, Jackson worked with major artists including Kool and the Gang, Roy Ayers, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Stevie Wonder. Today, Jackson’s arrangements are regarded as pivotal in the development of hip-hop, neo-soul, and jazz-funk. His message remains timeless.

History, in the now? No doubt.

Get tickets here.


I don’t write about hip-hop that much these days because I love it, too much.

Allow someone else to have their day when something is designed for them.

Back in the day, I didn’t like how the mainstream media attacked Public Enemy, ATCQ, and others.

I was even irritated by the bandwagon jumpers who came in 10 years later to declare Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique a classic, when the same trend-jumping lemmings had disowned the record when it was first released in 1989.

That’s how salty I can get about this art form.

I remember when Rolling Stone only wanted white dudes, mostly Brits, on their covers. Look it up on Google. I’ll be patient. Heh.

But I still bought Jann Wenner’s publication, which started in November of 1967 at a small Haight-Ashbury print shop right here in SF, holding out for “US” to make the cover.


Times do change.

That was the period when CNN, which now has W. Kamau Bell discussing race on the award-winning, fantastic show he produces with them, didn’t even listen to the music or participate in the culture, but knew how to attack what seemed foreign to them.

However, their children understood EXACTLY what it was. Punk 2.0. Anyway.

Cheat Codes, Black Thought and Danger Mouse’s first full-length? The stuff of the Gods.

It has all of the genius minimalism found in peak Boogie Down Production/KRS-ONE records from the late 1980s to the mid-’90s, precision lyrics, apt breath control, and inner meter rhyme wizardry by an all-time top five emcee, Tariq Trotter a.k.a. Black Thought.

Danger Mouse has matured behind the boards, after having worked with with Beck and in his Broken Bells project. The producer helped define the “less is more” mantra, down to the hard bass, crispy kicks, and cracking snare drums.

The new album is foundational hip-hop to the core. With 12 joints in 38 minutes, including a heavyweight collab featuring A$AP Rocky and Run The Jewels? I fucking love it, and you will too.

Buy the album here.


Shawn Lee, the vagabond, award-winning video game composer, and Andy Platts of Mamas Gun own this very specific space that encompasses blue-eyed soul, Steely Dan genetic material, and Doobie Brothers aestheticism.

Their project, Young Gun Silver Fox, is a natural groove. Color chords and spectral vistas abound. The duo’s track “Winners” is a breezy and laid-back track that continues to ease us into the hot summer months with dressed-down simplicity. As Shawn explains: “This tune is as silky as it gets. A slinky R&B groove with a super tasty harmonica solo by Pat Levitt. A real deep cut.” Andy adds, “Shawn suggested we take things in a Caldwell-flavored direction, so that’s where it went. I loved laying down the bass on this! Originally we had Candy Dulfer in mind for the solo but for various reasons we couldn’t bring it together. Hooray for silver linings though—Pat Levitt is one of the classiest harmonica players out there so it was amazing to have him on this cut—I couldn’t imagine anything else in that solo spot now!”

Pour yourself a glass of this West Coast AOR and catch a taste.

Pre-order the duo’s fourth studio album Ticket To Shangri La here.


Tomu DJ, a West Coast producer, has a way of threading out the melocholy.

On Half Moon Bay, her second full-length, the Bay Area producer keeps acquiring these intricate harmonies that sound like hymns from future times. Coupled with rhythms moving through footwork designs, reggaeton blends into tech-house ravey moments. Half Moon Bay continues to astound with those quiet stolen moments hidden under the commotion of this difficult world. Unfortunately, I learned too late that Tomu DJ was performing at The Golden Bull last Tuesday; this is an album that begs to be heard in its entirety on a proper soundsystem.

Purchase here.


Megan Slankard, a San Francisco indie rock singer-guitarist, issues an ultimatum to her soon-to-be ex on the track “California”: take whatever he wants, as long as he leaves her with the state of California.

In a final act of defiance, Slankard gives all of his belongings to the thrift store in the hopes of delighting future customers. That’s what I call recycling.

The searing breakup song dispenses a “gentle reminder of why it might not be the best idea to date a songwriter,” explains the artist. Touché.

It’s the first release from her forthcoming album California & Other Stories, due out in late October and co-produced by Alex Wong. It showcases Megan’s artistry: shuffling, truculent rock ‘n’ roll with dense atmospherics. Perfectly-built for the comfy environs of The Guild Theatre in Menlo Park.

Get your ticket here. She’s supporting Glen Philips of Toad The Wet Sprocket.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

John-Paul Shiver
John-Paul Shiverhttps://www.clippings.me/channelsubtext
John-Paul Shiver has been contributing to 48 Hills since 2019. His work as an experienced music journalist and pop culture commentator has appeared in the Wire, Resident Advisor, SF Weekly, Bandcamp Daily, PulpLab, AFROPUNK, and Drowned In Sound.

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