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Hip-hop groups have a different dynamic than rock bands. Despite the individual boasting and bragging, hip-hoppers tend to mesh their contributions more seamlessly than rock players, whose goal is usually to stand out and "solo." Edgar Alminar walks both lines, playing keyboards and percussion for rockers Irradio and also DJing as DJ GarGar for the Kneehighs, along with three MCs: Talls, DaDa, and Dalton. "Playing with Irradio packs its own kind of energy," he says, "but the Kneehighs definitely has its own unique energy and stage presence that can't really be described. You really have to see a live show to get the full experience. The music is energetic, feel-good hip-hop that'll get your grandma out of her seat."

Alminar/GarGar thinks San Diego is finally plugged into the contemporary hip-hop scene, citing successful events like Tha Liks at 'Canes, DJ Quik at 4th & B, and especially the Up in Smoke Tour at Coors Amphitheatre. "Up in Smoke was hit after hit after hit by all the artists I grew up with. Packed amphitheatre, crazy energy -- it was good to see many big-name artists sharing the stage."

Along with the increase of open-mike nights with hip-hop and spoken-word performers, it would seem the city that rapper Kev-4Play once called a "rich bitch, paint-the-ghetto-psychedelic kind of town" is finally more gabba than Abba. If you don't know what that means, you may not be the Kneehighs' target crowd.

DESERT ISLAND DVDS?

DJ GarGar:

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. "Everything about this movie is captivating: music, visuals, sound, acting."

2. The Cosby Show, Season One. "I've seen every episode hundreds of times, and I still haven't gotten sick of them."

3. Martin Lawrence: You So Crazy. "One of the best stand-up comedies ever made. I still laugh till I'm crying and my stomach hurts."

4. Memento. "This movie was put together beautifully. I love how you end up with the same problem the main character has."

5. Dancer in the Dark. "One of the most intense movies I've ever seen. I still cringe and yell at the TV when I watch this movie."

Dalton:

1. Jamie Foxx: I Might Need Security. "This DVD always makes me bust a gut."

2. Anchorman.

3. Cast Away. "This movie would give me hope of getting off the island I was stranded on."

Talls:

1. Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

2. Jackie Brown.

3. The Goonies. "I'm stuck in the '80s and love '80s movies."

DaDa:

1. The Shawshank Redemption.

2. Dumb and Dumber. "A classic comedy."

3. Office Space. "One of the funniest movies ever."

4. Jamie Foxx: I Might Need Security.

BEST RECORDS OF THE YEAR?

DJ GarGar:

1. Kanye West, Late Registration. "The production is top notch and a step in an unheard direction."

2. Common, Be. "Classic lyrics flow over classic hip-hop beats...the vibe on the record is intense."

3. Lindsey Yung, Fusion. "One of the best voices I've heard from a local artist. The music is very original and beautiful."

4. Goodbye Blue Monday, Help Is on the Way. "Great songs from a great band -- one of the better acts from San Diego."

5. My American Heart, The Meaning in Makeup. "Solid music light years ahead of their ages; awesome arrangements. I hope my kids write music this tight."

50 CENT OR JA RULE?

DJ GarGar: "50 Cent."

Dalton: "50 Cent."

Talls: "Neither."

DaDa: "50 Cent."

WHAT DOES THE LOCAL HIP-HOP SCENE NEED MOST?

Dalton: "More exposure on the radio."

Talls: "The fun aspect of old-skool hip-hop."

BRADY BUNCH OR PARTRIDGE FAMILY?

(All): "Brady Bunch."

WORST LOCAL GIG?

DJ GarGar: "We played 5ifth Qtr in downtown, and some guy claiming to be a famous rapper's cousin came onstage and insisted on freestyling in the middle of our set. He basically killed the vibe for the rest of the night, and he wasn't even good."

DaDa: "It was my first time onstage at the Roseary Room, and I kept spilling beer everywhere. Onstage, and on myself."

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