Work hard, play hard is the motto for 2006.

Look, you’re afraid to say it, so I’ll just say it for you: Moderation is over-rated. The East Bay rapper Clyde Carson — frontman for the KMEL-wooing outfit the Team — could tell you a little something about that. Now here’s a guy who builds his raps from elaborate hedonist fantasies of being high, lounging in a VIP cabana at @Seventeenth Club with a fluted champagne glass in one hand, a can of highly caffeinated Hyphy Juice in the other, and three pretty girls hanging from his watch chain. Feeling himself, as it were. And guess what? All of the songs are bangin’. Why? Because sex sells. Drugs sell. Any form of excess sells.

Let’s pretend, for a minute, that Carson were to modify his style to make it sound more temperate and healthful — to update a joke from comedian Tom Smith, think Barbra Streisand or Junior Wells, but without their gangsta edge. Just imagine him trying to pick up a shorty at the club: Yeah, shorty, I just finished a moderate yoga workout and I was thinkin’ we could, you know, take a ride in my Lincoln Navigator over to the chalet. Yo, today I was flipping through Living Without magazine and I found this great recipe for gluten-free chicken. I was thinking we could cook it and kick back on the chaise longue and feel ourselves. But not too much. And then maybe you could break me off a moderate portion of your booty.

Yeah, uh, anyway. Immoderation (i.e., excess) isn’t only a sine qua non for certain pleasurable vices (i.e., sex, drugs, feeling one’s self), and the way rappers talk about (i.e., effusively promote) them — it’s also the linchpin of a good Calvinist work ethic. Just ask Sam Marshall, the new owner of Oakland’s on-again, off-again Eli’s Mile High Club. Now you’d have to be a heady nutcase to buy a venue that’s been around for decades, withstood dozens of cosmetic surgeries (a few rhinoplasties and several sets of new boobs), and is still derided for being in “a bad neighborhood.” And yes, Marshall is, indeed, a nutcase — in the most honorable sense of the word. The former Mr. Natural Universe (according to his Web bio) says that when he’s not trying to resuscitate Eli’s, he’s busy managing a warehouse in Hayward, moonlighting in the Marshall Law Band, or adhering to his strict, self-punishing workout regime (six days a week, he says). On average, he sleeps two to three hours a night; he talks a mile a minute — you’d think he was a speed addict rather than a mere workaholic. But hey, Eli’s looks promising.

So is there a symbiotic way of combining excessive work and excessive leisure so that one actually provides material for the other? Welcome to the wonderful world of spoken-word poetry. Specifically, welcome to the ungainly, tempestuous, sordid world of the Suicide Kings. Poets Geoff Trenchard and Jamie DeWolf have cited various unlikely obsessions as founts of inspiration — they are, in no particular order, acne medication, a fixation with the gangsta antics of Cypress Hill, sex and more of it, Johnny Walker Black with a twist of lemon, apartment life in the parts of Vallejo you might recognize from Hood 2 Hood, working the graveyard shift at Kinko’s, finding creative uses for bodily fluids … the list goes on ad infinitum. By now, many are familiar with the story of how Rupert Estanislao was recruited to their trio by brandishing a snub-nosed pistol at a Starry Plough open mic. These guys may be slight and well-mannered when you meet them in person, but onstage they sound like the kind of people who could chew you up and spit you right back out. And yet, they get shit done; they’re the top spoken-word act in the East Bay.

The moral? Work hard, play hard is the motto for 2006. Do everything intensely and zealously. — Rachel Swan

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