First off, you don’t know anyone who can rap as fast as him. Okay, maybe Twista or Tech N9ne, but that doesn’t count because the type of content involved isn’t even comparable. I’m not knocking good ol’ fashioned thugged-out rap with undertones of homicide and grand larceny; there’s a time and place for everything. But Eligh stands in a class of his own as a definitive West Coast underground hip-hop icon. A machine-gun rapper with depth and emotive thrust, this Living Legends staple can’t stop, won’t stop doing what he does best — blowing minds with a venerated authenticity as impressive as the tattoo tapestry covering most of his body.
Eligh is a technically refined emcee, a top-notch showman whose cadence and delivery seem to defy the laws of breath control. And for being such an unabashed lyricist capable of flinging poetry in spitfire fashion, seemingly forever, Eligh’s live sets are always well-metered displays of his catalogue — and seriously, who knows how many songs that entails when you add up the mixtapes, recorded freestyle sessions and lost b-sides from this guy’s 18 years in the game? Oh yeah, he’s also a hell of a producer, dropping beats under the alias of “Gandalf.” Don’t believe it? Go check out one of his instrumental albums, like Gandalf’s Beat Machine Level 3, and while you’re at it, point and click your way into his brand new stuff on the Therapy at 3 album he made with Bay Area producer Amp Live.
Though it’s fair to say that listeners probably gain more from living with Eligh’s music and soaking up the replay value of his recordings, his presence on the microphone is something every underground hip-hop head can appreciate and stand in awe of. There’s a reason the Living Legends made such an international impact on the ‘90s hip-hop scene, and Eligh’s work — plugged and unplugged, live or recorded — is a big part of that. This legend is real, go see for yourself.
Eligh and Amp Live play 9 pm Saturday, March 31, at WOW Hall; $12 adv., $15 door.