Two phrases come to mind when we hear Bay Area indie hip-hop producer Jel has a new album: "totally uncompromising" and "serious knock."
"That's kind of what I was trying to do," said Jeffrey "Jel" Logan, who pounds out a set from his third and latest LP, "Late Pass," as part of Anticon Records' 15th anniversary party Thursday night. Over the past 15 years, the fiercely independent artist and his bands such as Subtle, Themselves and 13 & God have done the opposite of jump on trends.
"There's some new sounds in there that I don't mess with too much, but I don't want to go into any dubstep stuff or EDM-whatever," he says. "It's like so oversaturated now. ... I didn't start off doing that, so why would I do it now?"
Instead, "Late Pass" is textured by instrumental hip-hop boom-bap, warped synthesizer melodies and jagged samples. The sometimes-rappy lyrics are buried in the mix and dark — their content the opposite of vacuous radio rap and EDM.
"I hated that s*** back in the '90s when I was into conscious rap," Jel says. "That's the s*** that sparked me the most — of course Public Enemy, X-Clan, Brand Nubians."
The Chicago-born beatmaker quit art school in 1996 and debuted in Themselves and later Deep Puddle Dynamics in 1999, which led to the creation of the venerated indie label Anticon.
"I just had a bad taste in my mouth about the gangster, Big Willie s*** that they were doing back then, and it's totally evolved into what all the kids want to talk about today, and that's bragging about s*** that you're never going to have. The company has got all your f***ing money and you're going to go out there and blow it renting things and looking like you're rich, but you're never going to be as rich as the people who own your music."
Jel's upcoming 40-date North American tour is his first as a solo artist in the U.S. Fifteen years into the game, Jel's stock is still rising on its own timeline. "The album title came from how I was just late in delivering a third album and how [others] are late onto me. It represents where I'm at right now. I'm not falling the f*** off. I'm not getting super large. I'm doing my thing."IF YOU GO
Jel at Anticon's 15th anniversary party
With Baths, Why?, D33J, Daedelus, Doseone, Alias, Serengeti, Odd Nosddam, Soda Pop and Low Limit
When: 10 p.m. today
Where: 1015 Folsom, 1015 Folsom St., S.F.
Contact: (415) 431-1200, www.1015.com
Dust Off: Hang up your dusty Burner gear for the year and head down to the Mission district to hear DJ Dan, Sydney Blu, Syd Gris, Matt Kramer and more. 9:30 p.m., $10. Public Works, 161 Erie St., (415) 779-6757, www.publicsf.com
Oakland Massive: Celebrate The Town on First Fridays in September with some of Oakland's greatest, featuring Chuy Gomez, Davey D, Mr. E, DJ Leydis, Steelo (DJ set) and Deejay Julicio. 9 p.m., $7. The New Parish, 579 18th St., Oakland, (415) 371-1631, www.thenewparish.com
Stretch Sunday: Kill Frenzy from Dirtybird, Andrew Kelsey and Lisbona headline this spandex-oriented Sunday night party at Monarch with the SF Twerk Trio. Workout attire from the 1980s is encouraged. 9 p.m., free before 10 p.m. Monarch, 101 Sixth St., S.F., (415) 284-9774, www.monarchsf.com