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Scarub Of Living Legends Playing Back Bar SoFa

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Good With 'Nothing'—Scarub’s new album ‘Want Of Nothing’ finds the emcee in a clear headspace.

Good With 'Nothing'—Scarub’s new album ‘Want Of Nothing’ finds the emcee in a clear headspace.

It’s been almost two decades since he and his Living Legends crew helped usher in a new era of DIY in hip-hop, and Scarub is still doing things his own way. In fact, he’s doing everything his own way.

After releasing his first solo effort in eight years, Want for Nothing, in November, Scarub is preparing a major tour in support of the album—and he’s doing it all by himself. That means scheduling dates with promoters, booking hotel rooms and plotting his route across the country, which will drop him in San Jose this week, when he headlines the Friday the 13th Monster Jam at Back Bar SoFa.

And while the additional work might be a hassle sometimes, Scarub, a.k.a. Armon Collins, says the freedom he gets in exchange makes it all worthwhile. Being his own tour manager and booking agent ensures that he can visit the special places and people he has come to know and connect with since he began performing back in 1998.

“It’s not like I have to fight for a seat or time table with whoever else is on the tour who wants to do other things,” he says, referring to the complicated logistics of attempting to keep the entire crew of rappers in line and on time. “I get to move at my own pace.”

Doing things on his own terms has helped get Scarub to a place where he is more at peace than he ever has been—a state of mind that is reflected in the title of his new record.

“It’s a play on words, on both sections—light and dark,” he says. “Hustling until you achieve it, or caring less about it and freeing yourself of those desires or obsessions. I’ve always worked with mottos. At my age, I’m at a point where I want to want for nothing. I want to be comfortable in my skin, and no one else can do that for me.”

Being comfortable and working at his own pace also means that the emcee won’t be worrying about pushing out new music at the speed of the Internet. He plans to stick to emphasizing quality over quantity. He particularly notes the output of De La Soul as a point of inspiration. “They put quality time into it, and that’s what I’ve done,” he says.

Scarub says he wants his fans to take their time with his music—to notice album through-lines and reprised motifs that will reveal themselves upon repeated listens. That attention to detail may explain why Scarub is still able to tour while plenty of his contemporaries are long gone.

“I think you need to give people more time to listen to music instead of giving them more and more and more music,” he adds. “At the end of the day, I think if someone has five potato chips versus a whole bag of potato chips, they’re gonna savor those five potato chips.”

Released this past November, Want for Nothing is Scarub’s seventh solo release, his latest since 2011’s The California EP. The album builds on a number of sounds, from the bluesy guitar lick on “My Moment” to the head-bobbing bounce crafted from a shuffling drum beat that accents the spare, contemplative keys of “Go.”

For the latest exposure to what he’s still capable of lyrically, check out his video for “Get Out!” where dancers respond to the beat as well as Scarub’s elastic flow, which shifts from elongated syllables to rapid-fire cadence. Once the double-time hi-hats appear, injecting a new-found energy to the beat, Scarub unleashes a lyrical barrage. Thankfully, lyrics appear on-screen to help the viewer keep up. It’s a great example of the studied nature to his cadence and the effortlessness to how he switches his delivery from one line to the next.

Asked about the crew that helped launch his career—along with the careers of Murs, Grouch and Eligh—he both confirms and downplays much of what has been said about Living Legends of late.

It’s true that both Murs and Grouch no longer associate with the Los Angeles and Oakland hip-hop collective, and yes, what’s left of the group hasn’t been nearly as active as it was at its peak, but that’s just life, Scarub says.

“We’re no longer in our teens or our 20s,” he says. “We’re in our 30s, man—so people have mortgages. People have bigger responsibilities.”

And while cracks seemed to appear within the Living Legends camp after the departures of Murs and Grouch, Scarub is quick to insist that “the energy’s still good” among all of the group’s members. He doesn’t rule out more Living Legends releases in the future.

“There is no hate.”

Scarub plays Back Bar SoFa on March 13 as a part of the Friday the 13th Monster Jam, which will also feature supporting performances from Cannabidroids, Pariah and TOAST. More info.

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