Slick Rick, Xzibit To Headline Lyricist Lounge Tour

EPMD also topping bill; newer rap acts Arsonists, Dilated Peoples, others slated to perform.

Slick Rick, EPMD and Xzibit will serve as headliners for the upcoming Lyricist Lounge tour, designed primarily as a showcase for young and unsigned rappers, according to a tour spokesperson.

The tour, the second national outing for Lyricist Lounge, will feature such new acts as Los Angeles' Dilated Peoples, New York old-school performing unit the Arsonists and Queens, N.Y., rapper Screwball.

The road show kicks off Nov. 1 at the Gothic Theater in Denver, then it hits the West Coast before winding back to the East. Specific dates for the final two shows, in Detroit and Chicago, have not yet been set, but will take place before Dec. 1, according to a tour spokesperson.

Slick Rick, known for such story-driven compositions as "Mona Lisa" and "La Di Da Di," will play the first two dates, Nov. 1–2, in Denver and Boulder, Colo.

EPMD, the duo famous for their casual rhyme trading and for albums with the word "business" in the title (Out of Business was released in July), will play the next six shows. Xzibit, a Los Angeles rapper who is featured on rapper/producer Dr. Dre's new album, Dr. Dre 2001, will headline the remaining dates.

The Arsonists released their debut album, As the World Burns, featuring the cartoon-inspired track "Pyromaniax" (RealAudio excerpt), in August. Screwball, signed to Tommy Boy Records, will release his first album early next year. Dilated Peoples contributed to the benefit albums Mumia 911, which supported failed efforts to get death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal a new trial, and The Funky Precedent.

The Lyricist Lounge was conceived in New York in 1991 as an open-mic showcase that moved from club to club. Its format had established rappers serving as the evening's hosts for a succession of lesser-known acts. Organizers launched the first national edition in 1998.

Last year's Lyricist Lounge tour featured Eminem, the Detroit native who was a hot commodity on hip-hop's underground until his major-label debut, The Slim Shady LP, went double-platinum this year.

Earlier this year, the 34-year-old Slick Rick (born Ricky Walters) said he felt that younger rappers were helping to bring a renewed positive vibe to the music. But that didn't mean he was going to return to rapping like a young man.

"I'm not going to sit around and write about anal sex or some crazy talk like that," he said. "I want to try and represent my own age group."

Slick Rick released The Art of Storytelling in May. Its tracks included the OutKast collaboration "Street Talkin' " (RealAudio excerpt).

The Lyricist Lounge tour is sponsored by online MP3 clearinghouse and advocate MP3.com, which will offer a compilation CD featuring artists from the tour for $12.99 on its site. The CD also will be available through the Lyricist Lounge website (www.lyricistlounge.com).

Lyricist Lounge U.S. tour dates:

Nov. 1; Denver, Colo.; Gothic Theater

Nov. 2; Boulder, Colo.; Fox Theater

Nov. 4; San Francisco, Calif.; Maritime Hall

Nov. 5; Arcata, Calif.; Arcata Theater

Nov. 6; Los Angeles, Calif.; Palace

Nov. 7; San Diego, Calif.; 4th & B

Nov. 9; Phoenix, Ariz. Nile

Nov. 12; New Orleans, La.; House of Blues

Nov. 16; Atlanta, Ga.; Roxy

Nov. 17; Washington, D.C.; Nation

Nov. 18; Boston, Mass.; Avalon

Nov. 19; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Laga

Nov. 20; Philadelphia, Pa.; Electric Factory

Nov. 21; Cleveland, Ohio; Peabody's

TBA; Detroit, Mich.; St. Andrews

TBA; Chicago, Ill.; House of Blues