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ATF Tour Brings L.A. Hip-Hop Underground to The Cypher August 1

In Clubs, Music
Turtle from the Learning Curve crew will perform at The Cypher on Wednesday, Aug. 1.

Turtle from the Learning Curve crew will perform at The Cypher on Wednesday, Aug. 1.

The Learning Curve crew has been making some of the sharpest and strangest hip-hop to come out of the L.A. underground in the last couple of years. In particular, Turtle (Ken Katagiri) and Bakus (Brandon Backhaus) are trippers on the mic, sporting influences that range from Dan the Automator and Del tha Funkee Homosapien to the Pixies and Radiohead.

For the ATF Tour, which may or may not stand for “Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms,” and which comes to The Cypher at Johnny V’s on Aug. 1, they’ve joined up with some of their favorite collaborators from their other loose and often overlapping affiliations—DJ Troma, Concept from the Human Being crew, BET1 from the S.A.D. Collective, Johanna Phraze from the United Front. The tour is a showcase of some of SoCal’s biggest hip-hop talent, the type that is way off the radar of the mainstream media. Gajah was a founding member of Acid Reign and a favorite at the legendary Project Blowed open mic. Robert Diaz, aka EQ, is a formidable L.A. beatmaker.

But Turtle and Bakus are the standouts among the standouts here. Listening to them together on a track like “Life’s A Trip” makes one realize how Learning Curve has seized a moment of opportunity in the wide-open L.A. hip-hop scene. Thanks to the open-mic explosion of the ’90s, there’s been an “anything goes” vibe ever since that’s allowed SoCal MCs like Turtle and Bakus to do smart, out-there stuff in the underground without feeling the pressure from whatever’s trendy in the moment. It can’t last forever, maybe, but right now the L.A. underground is a hotbed of undiscovered talent.

THE ATF Tour featuring Turtle, Bakus, DJ Troma, BET1, Concept, Johanna Phraze and more performs live at The Cypher at Johnny V’s on Wed, Aug. 1, 9pm; $3 after 10:30pm.

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