“Yeah…hell yeah…”

Those famous words, paired with a serious thumping bass line, and the permeating marketing power of then-music-powerhouse MTV, helped bring gangsta rap into suburbia in the early ΄90s. Kids everywhere got hooked on hits from The Chronic—Dr. Dre’s 1992 debut solo album—including “Let Me Ride,” “Nuthin’ but a G Thang,” and “Dre Day.” While Butte County residents may never hear those words uttered from the mouth of the good Doctor himself, they can still experience the magic Dr. Dre and his West Coast affiliates created in the early ΄90s and 2000s, thanks to the combined efforts of Sacramento fusion band, ZuhG, and local hip hop group, the Hooliganz.

 

On Friday, April 19th La Salle’s will host ZuhG and Friends who will present “The Dr. Dre Tribute Band” featuring Kevin Hoganson—also known as i2k from the Hooliganz. Hoganson moved to Sacramento six years ago, and though he is still active with fellow Hooliganz J.Pigg, B-Lee, and DJ Marvel, he is also collaborating with new artists there.

“Jr. Halliday, bassist and guitarist from ZuhG, basically had the idea to play a bunch of Dr. Dre songs live for his birthday,” Hoganson said of the band’s first rap tribute show. “We had the show at Harlow’s in Sac and people were diggin’ it. We pretty much sold out the venue.”

While ZuhG already had its own repertoire of reggae/rock/hip hop fusion tracks, the band recruited a handful of MCs to rap the verses by Dr. Dre and his associates off of seminal albums The Chronic and Chronic 2001, as well as other relevant jams like “California Love.” Next thing they knew, the band was gigging in San Francisco and Chico.

“It just started out as a fun thing,” Hoganson said. “Everybody thought, ‘Hey let’s do this, it’ll be fun,’ and it’s actually turning into something…We basically came up with the idea that nobody’s doing hip-hop covers…So far it seems pretty popular because everybody knows that [material], whether you’re into hip hop a lot or just a little bit, [The Chronic] is a classic album that everybody knows the words to, so it’s a good time to be able to perform that kind of music.”

In the set, Hoganson delivers verses by Devin the Dude, Kurupt, Hitman, and Dr. Dre.

“It’s crazy ΄cause when they asked me to come out there and do this, I thought for sure I was going to get the Eminem verses, and I didn’t get one. So it’s cool that I didn’t get typecast into that…I didn’t want them, his wordplay’s a little too intricate. I’m happy with what I got.”

The band also recruited a keyboard player as well as drummer Lady of Rhythm, who Hoganson described as “the centerpiece of the group.” The elements of a live band are what make this concept more than just a bunch of guys spitting out rap hits.

“It works out good with a live band because Dre’s production has a lot of sounds like live instrumentation, pianos, synths, bass lines, guitars,” Hoganson said. “When you’re playing with a live band, it sounds great; it translates well to a live

audience. If they’re feeling it, they’ll just keep going and start jamming. It’s a party atmosphere.”

While partying is always fun, these days the question of cash inevitably enters the conversation. One can’t help but wonder if Dre might hear about this, take a break from selling headphones, and come after whatever money this band is scooping up using his name and his tunes. But Hoganson found the idea laughable.

“We haven’t made any money yet, so I don’t know,” he said. “That might be something that will come up, but I don’t think he’d be getting too much money. I think he’s got bigger things to worry about, like getting that next album out…. they’ve been talking about [Detox] forever, for four or five years now.”

Though they might not be stackin’ Gs, the tribute band shows business sense booking the La Salle’s show for April 19th.

“It’s the day-before-4/20-show, to go with the Chronic/Chronic 2001 aspect,” Hoganson said. “We’re just picking up momentum right now and going to see where it goes. As we keep playing more shows, we’re just incorporating new music into it, trying to come up with new ideas.”

While the “ZuhG and Friends Present the Dr. Dre Tribute Band” name might sound a little silly, it’s difficult to imagine ‘80s babies and rap aficionados not finding this show seriously kicking. Other than Hoganson, the band is about to learn how Chico gets down.

“I keep telling them Chico’s the place to be and it’s not going to be like any other times we’ve had,” Hoganson proclaimed excitedly.

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