Previously big on the underground mixed-tape scene, Bay Area rap quartet SOB X RBE (the X is silent) earned heat-seeking status when they scored a spot on the Black Panther soundtrack, curated by hip-hop megastar and all-around cultural juggernaut Kendrick Lamar.
SOB X RBE members Lul G, Yhung T.O., Slimmy B. and DaBoii trade jabs with Lamar on the electric “Paramedic.” The song begins with lush, Afro-soul harmony before settling into a hard-as-nails nu-Bay groove, reminiscent of scene luminaries Mac Dre and E-40.
Vocally, the SOB crew meshes while remaining oil-and-water in ways that by now have become genre-necessary for a rap group, from the Beastie Boys to NWA: autotune soul singing from Yhung T.O., Slimmy B’s rasp, and brash streetwise observations from Lul G and DaBoii that recall Eazy E more than just a little bit.
SOB’s debut full-length Gangin’ — calling it a debut being laughable for those who’ve followed SOB X RBE’s online presence — is confident, mixing urban, club-worthy grooves, athletic endurance in the flow and kinetic cohesiveness.
There’s a 1980s-esque synth intro to the melodic “Always” and, overall, the production has the feel of switching FM channels circa 1992: from New Jack to West Coast to bouncing 808s punctuated by a gun shot.
And Gangin’ breakout track “Anti-Social” keenly examines our current obsession with social media. “Nigga try’n find themselves in a gang fight … there be shit I wanna say but I can’t type it.”
SOB X RBE plays with Cuban Doll 8 pm Saturday, March 24, at McDonald Theatre; $25 advance, $30 door. All-ages.