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One Eyez Open 

South African artist Eyezon leads homeless benefit

music & nightlife

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Born in Soweto and raised on his uncle's hip-hop mix tapes, the rapper Eyezon learned the principles of cadence and rhythm before he learned proper English in South Africa. Now splitting his time between Sonoma County and San Francisco, Eyezon's given back to the great mix-tape ocean that originally inspired him. Machine Gun Pop is not nearly as political as Eyezon's earlier material—nor is it as agitating as its title may imply.

Between the breezy pop production of "U Imagined It All" and the come-hither play of "I Will Be Your Friend," Machine Gun Pop reveals Eyezon the romantic, Eyezon the flirt. Then there are tracks like "Be Free," which align more with the life story of the kid whose father was AWOL and whose mother was exiled to Germany: "Times have changed but the struggle goes on," he raps, "Children into soldiers, they die, so wrong - Entire generations is tryin' to hold on."

Eyezon—to whom comparisons to Somali musician K'naan are inevitable—also lends time on Machine Gun Pop to causes such as global warming and the aftermath of war. But homeless services have always been dear to the rapper, and his show this week supports just that. Joining him on the refreshingly varied bill is rapper Shaya, punk band Semi-Evolved Simians, pop-R&B singer Bri Anne Michelle, quirky folk artist Guy Henry, Italian tango trip-hop artist Naresh Michael and more. It's all happening on Thursday, June 9, at the Arlene Francis Center. 99 Sixth St., Santa Rosa. 7pm. $5; bring canned food. 707.528.3009.

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