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Featuring members from Kentucky and Georgia, alternative and abstract hip-hop trio CunninLynguists will bring their Strange Universe tour to the Arcata Theatre Lounge on April 8.

Known for their impressive, genre-defying beats and clever lyricisms, the group that formed in 2000 has toured with a long list of fellow stars in the music industry including Kanye West, Pharrell Williams and Cee-Lo Green.

For their new mixtape “Strange Journey Volume Three” (SJV3), the three emcees polled fans about their preferences for the release's featured guests, concepts, album art -- everything.

The end result? An LP-length collection of quality songs featuring Del the Funky Homosapien, Brother Ali, Murs, Aesop Rock, Zumbi from Zion I and others. It's available to fans for a price of their choosing at

”We are the type of group that have never taken our fans for granted,” said member Willis Polk II, also known as Deacon the Villain. “They mean the world to us and we wanted to do something fresh with them that's never been done. A lot of artists these days don't have real fans. What I mean by that is, a lot of people are making trendy music that is just meant to match a particular circumstance. If you're going to the club, you play 'this' artist. If you're trying to get some (intimacy) you play 'this artist', et cetera. We make music that's meant to be more than just one track on the soundtrack for your life.


We want it to resonate. We want it to add to your life, not just provide the musical backdrop.”

The underground group has always put out music that evokes emotion, with a sense of wanting. Their latest mixtape only adds to their desire to truly connect with listeners about their lives and the process of making a record.

”We're not Jay-Z, we're not Kanye West,” Polk II said. “Though we get compared to Outkast a lot, we're not them. Those artists barely even know who we are. We're just some ordinary Joes who try our best to make timeless music and we wanted our fans to take part in that.”

Polk II was also able to answer some additional questions.

Q: What are some things that you both love and hate about the current nature of hip-hop?

A: I love that there's a new batch of artists poppin' up that are bucking the status quo. Our human souls can only take so much watered-down bull****, and there's a new breed of artist that is seeking to bring back substance and musicality. All that aside, even for the watered-down bull**** that's out there, I love that the era of the super-producer has kinda dwindled. It's allowing new producers with new rhythms, chords and melodies to influence the game. I live in Atlanta, the one-hit-wonder capital of the world, and though many of today's artists are one and done, it's allowing new ideas to get thrown into the pot. What do I hate about the current nature of hip-hop? That very few people are striving to make timeless music. Ninety-five percent of what comes out is totally disposable. Ten years from now -- even two years from now. Most of what's on hip-hop radio today will be totally forgotten.

Q: What best puts you in the songwriting mood? Also, can you tell me a bit about the collaborative process between members when it comes to the penning and conceptualization of your music?

A: It used to be weed (laughs), but over the past year I've seriously pumped my breaks on smokin'. I only wrote two verses on 'SJV3' while blunted. Nowadays, I think what puts me in the mood most is just challenging myself to reach a level of writing that I've never reached before. Just pushing myself to be a better emcee. As far as the collaborative process, it varies from track to track. Sometimes we don't even talk about what we're going to write about. Sometimes the name of the beat or the words in a sampled chorus will totally drive the direction. Other times one of us will take the reins, throw a concept out there and it just sticks. Occasionally, one of us will just pen a verse and share with the others and the direction will begin from there even if the initial verse doesn't stick. There are times when one of us will pen a verse, which sparks a direction, then that initial verse gets rewritten at a later date once the concept has solidified.

Q: For the Arcata show you've got J-Live, Sadistik and Nemo Achida along with you -- how would you personally describe each of them?

A: J-Live is a virtuoso type of talent. He could do everything before it was popular to be able to do everything. He can DJ, produce, rap, direct, cook, Nascar-race, jockey a horse and fly an airplane all at the same time and can do it all well (laughs). Sadistik is a brilliant writer and visionary. He's able to emote on a level that is extremely rare in rap music. Sadistik has the uncanny ability to make you feel and believe every word that he says, because you know that he feels and believes it himself. Plus, on a technical level, he's a rap beast. He has a variety of styles and he does them all well. Nemo Achida is a magnificent jack-of-all-trades type of artist as well. He can rap, write, sing hooks, produce, play drums, et cetera. I don't think he's even cracked the surface on everything that he's capable of. He's representing for the youngsters on the tour. Bringing a much-needed freshness to the old ass (guys) on this tour.

Q: What are four things the people most likely don't know about CunninLynguists?

A: Um... Kno was almost a strip-club DJ, I'm the one that hooked him up with the gig, Natti knows almost every stripper in Lexington, Ky. and ... I'm a Gemini.

Q: How was your last experience in Humboldt County?

A: It was a very high-ly entertaining experience.

If you go

What: CunninLynguists, J-Live, Sadistik, Nemo Achida

When: 9 p.m. April 8

Where: Arcata Theatre Lounge, 1036 G St.

Admission: $15 in advance, $20 at the door, 21+