Chief Network and Jai Kincaid
Tomahawk Records dates back to 2002, and since then, leader Chief Network has been a strong presence on the local scene, performing at both churches and nightclubs. Poet at heart, producer by trade, Network makes references to LeBron James as an example of the kind of success he's after. But this album is not all braggadocio. "Sinful World" acknowledges that unemployment has hit Cleveland hard during the recession — as Network and Citisin Kane proclaim, "I need about four or five stimulus checks." "We gotta rise high like LeBron when he at the rim," maintains Network, making one of several connections between basketball and life. Chief Network's underlying message is that times are tough, but Cleveland can look to local guys for inspiration. — Amy Booker
Chief Network and Jai Kincaid perform at 9 p.m. Friday, July 24, at Rockstar (2045 E. 21st St., 216.776.9999, peabodys.com). Tickets: $10 advance, $13 day of show.
Step Into Home (Act II)
A follow-up to Step Into Home (Act I), Step Into Home (Act II) tells the story of a 21st-century philosopher who spends his life railing against the world's political and social injustices and trying to discover what life is about. It's helpful to listen to (Act I) first to get the full story. But even on its own, (Act II) has much to offer. "Laws of Ohio," one of the album's best tunes, shows off the trio's musicianship. "Strange Dream," about what the afterlife might mean, combines gentle piano with Josh Emmet's even softer, almost whisper-like singing. The combination works perfectly and shows how well this album stands on its own. — Julia KazarB