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Is the presence of, or ability to play instruments the determining factor in deciding who gets labeled a musician? It's a question that is most often thrown around when talk turns to hip-hop music.

Ignoring the fact that many hip-hop artists do play their own instruments and perform with live bands, if the simple act of physically touching an instrument, is the barometer of musicianship, then composers aren't musicians, a concession few would accept.

Sure, it's easy to be sloppy on those instruments and let the samples carry the weight of the composition, but it's also easy to play three sloppy power chords and call it a punk rock song.

The difference of course, is that no one questions the musicality of such acts. Why? My college sociology-class-era self would say because they're established "white" styles that wield hegemonic status, a level of power they will fight to maintain, no matter how petty the fight. As Russell Simmons, member of Run D.M.C. and founder of Def Jam Records told Charlie Rose on 60 Minutes, “The arrogance of white men is why I'm here today ... What the hell did they need me for if they were open-minded enough to allow this cultural phenomena to be part of their make-up. My independence is because they didn't accept me. So every step of the way I've made more money.”

A less clinical—and feather-ruffling—answer is that opposition to hip-hop's musical validity is simply critics being blowhards.

So tonight, why not suck it up and support "the other local independent scene?"

Tonight, thanks to local hip-hop network and promoters Don't Sleep Boise, you can catch touring up-and-coming hip-hop acts Ecid, Noah 23, Jordan Miche along with local Arthur Maddox at Reef for only $3.

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