Roots and Branches Oakland State of Mind Block Party

When: Sat., July 19, 2-6 p.m. 2008

Don't feel too bad if you've never heard of Reverend Phil Lewis, aka Motorcycle Mike, whose apparent claim to fame -- according to a podcast interview by local community group Roots and Branches -- was the 1981 song "Super Rat." It was, if not the first rap song recorded in Oakland, at the very least a rap song recorded in Oakland -- in the last days of disco, no less. And Phil Lewis, if not a known community leader, is at least a colorful personality. He will grace Saturday, July 19's Roots and Branches block party to address the state of things in Oakland, alongside a bevy of hip-hop-oriented performers (including Bumpitythump, Gemz, Big Hurt & Banger Bananas, and Gal*In_Dog). This free, all-ages event runs from 2-6 p.m. at the Island Park (61st St. at Adeline St., Emeryville), and includes free food. If anyone can procure a "Super Rat" 12-inch, let a pimp know.

Rachel Swan

Price: free

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