Unique new Oakland hip-hop group The High Decibels, whose recently released debut album HP on Rolling Jack Records melds rap, rock, and blues, are playing a must-see show tonight at the Element Lounge at 1028 Geary Ave. in San Francisco. At this evening's show the group's two front men/emcees, main-man Duke and his back up/hype-man Chief (above), will be joined by the tight High Decibels live band led by group founder & album producer KC Booker who will be playing electric guitar, along with Aaron Taunton on electric bass, and Deane Jenkins on drums. Unfortunately superswift DJ Gordo Cabeza, who does a stellar job cutting it up throughout the new album, will not be joining them for tonight's show, but no matters, it should still be an off the hook concert.
I have already seen the High Decibels perform twice in the past few weeks and each time they exuded a level of professionalism not normally associated with a local hip-hop act who have just dropped their first record. Each of these recent shows were semi-informal and were attended by only a handful -- one in KC's North Oakland living-room for a Imeen.com video taping & the other (also in North Oakland) was a live remote WFMU radio broadcast that I produced last week. At each of these performances they connected with the few in attendance and remarkably (especially for live hip-hop) sounded even better than on their record!
Expect the set for tonight's show to be drawn exclusively from their 13 track album and to include such favorites as"Duke Gonna Get Em," "Crash With No Cushion," "Who Knew Duke," and "Miss Cindy." At tonight's show they may or may not be sharply dressed (like on the album cover, left), donning their stylish suits, shirts, and ties. "They [suits] get too hot to perform in sometimes," laughed Duke. And what about that classic large 1988 model boombox also featured on the album cover? "We bring it round with us always to play beats off it," said Duke. But they will not need to bring it for tonight's High Decibels show.
The High Decibels formed a year ago one night at a poetry slam at the Starry Plough in Berkeley. Some years ago KC Booker used to be in the LA/SF band Big Soul, and he was thinking about forming a new band with an emcee fronting it when he was blown away by a spoken word performance by Duke on the Shattuck Avenue club's stage. "I was really impressed," recalled KC of seeing Duke for the first time. "And even though he wasn't rapping, I knew he had something really special." That night the two talked and agreed to join forces and form a group which would become the HIgh Decibels. Soon after, Chief, Duke's childhood friend and rap cohort for ten years, joined the High Decibels. They quickly began recording their debut album -- and the rest (they hope) will be rap history.
The High Decibels go onstage at Element Lounge at approx 11PM this evening. Pick up their new debut HD at Amoeba Music. Peep their two music videos below for the album tracks "Crash With No Cushion" and "That Dude." To learn more about the group and their upcoming shows, visit the High Decibels website.