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"The West Coast never fell off/I was asleep in Compton/Aftermath been here/the beats been knockin'/Nate Dogg doing his thing/DPG still poppin'!" spits the Game over killer piano keys on "Westside Story," the first single off his album The Documentary, which sold almost 600,000 units right after release. Not since Snoop Dogg's debut Doggystyle has the world seen such hype—and the numbers to back it up. The Game (real name: Jayceon Taylor) is a six-foot-four ex-basketball player from Compton High who played against Baron Davis (his son's godfather), Paul Pierce and other NBA dudes but turned from b-ball skills to street hustlin' to rapping after being shot five times in a home invasion. While recovering from his wounds, the Game rehabilitated by studying rap's greatest, including Compton's own Eazy-E (who happens to be tatted on the Game's forearm). Within a year, he signed with Dr. Dre's label, Aftermath. Dre had a hand in developing Snoop, the Dogg Pound (Daz and Kurupt) and now his new West Coast protg, and with the help of Dre's production skills (along with 50 Cent and G-Unit's cred), the cuts on this album—including the Kanye West-produced "Dreams" and the heavy-bass G-Funk sound of "How We Do"—are truly scary. It's like seeing the docudrama Scared Straight! for the first time, and it proves West Coast gangsta rap is still alive and poppin'. (Ben Quiones)

The Game At The Vault 350, 350 Pine Ave., Long Beach, (888) 80-VAULT; Fri., 7 p.m. $50. 21+.

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sO sO sO are a 21-and-under trio hailing from East Los Angeles, playing music that pummels your ears with aggressive-yet-catchy bass lines, broken guitar chords and vicious drum beats—all reminiscent of the wildly famous-in-our-LA-eyes Le Shok and the 1-2-3 punch of the Fuse! The band (Oscar Ruvalcaba on drums, Alex Vadovinos on bass, and Eric Conde on vocals and guitar) write straight-forward high-energy songs, and their dreams are simple: release a seven-inch, see a sO sO sO sticker on Conde's stolen bike, and take their music someplace new—preferably while on tour with the Blood Brothers. One request, though: no more backyard parties. Or at least no really weird ones. "Our first show was in Boyle Heights," says Conde. "A DJ showed up, and there were nothing but gangsters and way older people that were dancing. The DJ stopped the music so we could play, and everyone just stared at us, confused. Oscar's drum set kept falling over since we were playing on a hill, and there was only one guy there that seemed to like it—breakdancing right in front of us." Still, strange things seem to be the norm at a sO sO sO show, whether it's looking into a sea of kids wearing spray-painted sO sO sO masks or just the sea itself, which consists of Conde's brothers and a lot of their friends. "They go with us everywhere, and we love them," Conde says. "Our van is usually packed with a bunch of kids from our neighborhood. Sometimes, they're kids we've never met." (Kat Jetson)

sO sO sO with Moving Units and the Colour at Chain Reaction, 1652 W. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim; Thurs., March 10, 7:30 P.M. $15. ALL AGES.



The recently reformed Bar-Kays were one of the acts to take the stage at Wattstax in 1972, picking up the pieces after losing all but two of their band members in the same plane crash that killed Otis Redding. Previously one of the Stax house bands, the Bar-Kays also served as the backup band for Hayes on such hit records as Hot Buttered Soul and the mega-hit Shaft before striking it big themselves with "Son of Shaft" just before Wattstax. Since then, the Bar-Kays have become one of the most enduring and legendary bands in funk, with a pioneering style at the forefront of the '70s sound. Plus their No. 2 hit "Freakshow on the Dance Floor" (from the Breakin' soundtrack) forever ensures their place in the annals of pop culture. On top of that, they are known as one of the tightest, highest-energy bands around. (Alex Roman)

The Bar-Kays with SOS and Confunkshun at the Vault 350, 350 Pine Ave., Long Beach, (888) 80-VAULT; Mon., 8:30 P.M. $35-$40. 21+.

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