Bay Area rapper Andre Nickatina takes me back to a time when music seemed regional, was made up of secretive cults that wrote and read zines, who traded cassette tapes and made localized references, which only those in the know could possibly understand, or at the very least, pretend to understand. Without leaving her parents' basement, a gal could get decent directions to Dick's Drive-In over in Seattle from Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Posse on Broadway." Like any decent rhymer with more than a dozen releases to his name, Nickatina's verses guide listeners through the daily quandaries of a lifestyle that may or may not exist (the neighborhood-famous coke dealer, who does the usual gangsta-ass activities, i.e. buys rims, spends money, shoots fools, gets high, gets revenge, gets laid, gets high again).
His rhymes are full of single entendres and neologisms. The vocal delivery isn't especially notable but has the effortless sound of someone who has been doing this shizzle forever, and his light lisp makes him recognizable enough, particularly when he decides to talk-sing. What's great about Nickitina and artists at his level is that they have nothing to lose and everything to gain by being themselves, something most Top 40 rhymers can't be.
Andre Nickatanin plays the Wilma Theatre Fri., Nov. 18, at 8 PM. $26 at Rockin Rudy's or ticketfly.com. All tix from his rescheduled show in Sept. will be honored.