[Locals Only] I&I Have Street (and Harbor Boulevard) Cred

If the Minivan Is Rockin’ . . .

It’s easy to snicker at the prospect of “true hip-hop” coming from Orange County. And maybe a video featuring two bald white guys spitting rhymes at the corner of Harbor Boulevard and Fifth Street won’t earn I&I much cred. But if you turn up the sound on the clip for “Listen Up” (currently on their MySpace), you’ll understand the soul that lies behind the shoestring budget, shirtless testosterone and menacing beige minivans gliding by in the background.

It all starts with the volatile chemistry of MCs Irawnik and Insanity. After forming seven years ago, the group set out on a quest to kick out mix tapes and patchwork demos that eventually morphed into their debut album, 1:31 AM. Backed by the turntable prowess of DJ Kamoflag, they present a style that’s simultaneously cerebral and savage. They keep verses sharp and energetic, often shedding light on society’s ills and personal pitfalls bolstered by melodic boom-bappery.

I&I: Hangin' Tough
I&I: Hangin' Tough

They match their flow with an ability to market themselves into an unlikely opening act for hip-hop greats, having supported Method Man, Cypress Hill, Talib Kweli and Snoop Dogg. Their latest dream gig comes with a spot at the Galaxy Concert Theater opening for E-40, legendary don of the hyphy movement.

While their music videos might not get them noticed, I&I prove that a minivan full of heart and hustle can take you a long way—despite OC hip-hop’s jaded naysayers. And braggadocious lines on the song “NoChorus” demonstrate I&I’s ability to dispense tongue-lashings to their critics like stale Halloween candy: “By all means laugh and joke, practice being comedians because we’re takin’ your jobs and leavin’ rappers broke.”

I&I with E-40, Big Co, Alias John Brown, Raider Dave and DJ Distort at Galaxy Concert Theatre, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 957-0600; www.galaxytheater.com. Fri., 8 p.m. $20. All ages. Visit I&I online at www.myspace.com/131music.

 
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