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Thursday, July 30, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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So Hot It's Cool -- Kube Summer Jam Turns The Gorge Into An Oasis Of Hip-Hop And R&B

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

------------------------------- Concert preview

KUBE Summer Jam, with LL Cool J, Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott & Nicole, Jon B, Mase, Next, Peter Gunz & Lord Tariq, Sylk-E. Fyne, Public Announcement, Brian McKnight, 2 p.m. tomorrow, Gorge Amphitheatre, George, Grant County; sold out, 206-628-0888. -------------------------------

Nobody needs to tell you that things are getting hot around here. And you'll be happy to know it's about to get hotter - maybe not on the thermometer, but definitely onstage.

Adding to the frenzy created by the Beastie Boys and WOMAD and EndFest this weekend, KUBE Summer Jam, sponsored by KUBE-FM (93.3), is going to have the Gorge Amphitheatre bouncing tomorrow. Traditionally one of the most anticipated concerts of the summer, the Summer Jam is predicted to attract fans from all over the West Coast for the opportunity to see some of the hottest rap and R&B artists perform on one stage. It's more than just a party, however; a portion of proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Northwest AIDS Walk.

This year's lineup is bursting at the seams with newcomers and old-school heavies, featuring a strong variety of pop rap stars, harder-hitting underground innovators, and singer-songwriters who amaze and mesmerize on stage. Here's who's scheduled to perform:

LL Cool J. The ladies love cool James . . . and apparently, so does Hollywood. A new movie deal forced the Grammy-winning hip-hop legend to cancel tour dates across the country, but fortunately he's obligated under contract to play the Gorge. LL has become as much of a pop-culture icon as a respected rap artist, his handsome mug having been used to sell everything from Gap clothing to his own television series (UPN's "In the House"). His latest album, "Phenomenon," is an autobiographical look back at his 12-year career through his signature rap style. Between cuts from that CD and his performance of older hits such as the seminal "I Can't Live Without My Radio" and "Mama Said Knock You Out," his should be the most highly anticipated performance of the day.

Missy Elliott. If you still need proof that hip-hop's going to be viable long into the 21st century, check out Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott's set. This hip-hop diva, who originates from Virginia, shows with her acclaimed debut "Supa Dupa Fly" that it's possible to flex your skills without sending out negative vibes. Along with challenging popular perceptions of hip-hop by pushing new frontiers in style and production, Elliott has also lent her rhyming and writing skills to artists such as MC Lyte, Aaliyah and Ginuwine.

Peter Gunz and Lord Tariq. Taking us back to the old school with "Deja Vu (Uptown Baby)" off of their album "Make It Reign," this duo tore up the underground scene before punching into the majors. With their signature Bronx style and flavorful production by heavies such as Clark Kent, the duo brings attention back to hip-hop's East Coast birthplace with classic Steely Dan riffs and beats that are hard to resist.

Ma$e. The junior member of Sean "Puffy" Combs' family was supposed to pay us a visit late last year when Puff descended upon the Tacoma Dome, but Ma$e was conspicuously absent. His solo appearance will be a real test as to whether this laid-back, mellow rapper can hold his own on stage without the flash and fire Puff Daddy would have provided him on the Family's tour.

Brian McKnight. One of the finest R&B song craftsmen of the current crop, McKnight's vocals ooze with silk and seduction, and his arrangements will turn just about any R&B romantic into putty melting in the desert sun. On his third release, "Anytime," McKnight also expands into popular hip-hop, tapping Ma$e on his single "You Should Be Mine" and enlisting Mary J. Blige to assist on the tasty track "Hold Me."

Jon B. Another singer in the honey-smooth vocal vein, Jon B.'s second solo album, "Cool Relax," which spices things up by mixing late '70s soul sensibility with modern hip-hop energy, shows this artist will only get better as he and his career mature.

Next. Blending the new so-called Minneapolis sound with NYC packaging and production, this harmonious trio's album, "Rated Next," swings between party anthems and tender ballads with a sexy flow. Their live performance should be a soul-stirring thrill.

Sylk-E. Fine and Public Announcement are also scheduled to appear.

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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