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San Francisco's Cellski Announces First-Ever Live Band Show

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Cellski on stage at Hiero Day in Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, Sept. 4, 2023. (Eric Arnold/KQED)

There aren’t many Frisco rappers with as much flavor as Cellski. In 1994, the streetwise lyricist and producer helped give rise to mobb music in the 415 with his debut studio album, Mr. Predicter. Now, for its 30th anniversary, he’ll perform the breakout LP with a live band on Feb. 22 in San Francisco.

At age 20, Cellski produced and engineered Mr. Predicter himself, with the assistance of his friends Tomie Witherspoon (a.k.a. the famed rap engineer T.C., who will DJ the event) and Don Marsh, a.k.a. The Enhancer. After recording its 17 tracks, he released it on his own label, Inner City Records.

As Cellski’s first ever show with a live band, the set will add songs from his 1998 release, Canadian Bacon and Hash Browns, and will bring out San Francisco legends from RBL Posse.

For his backing band, the emcee has teamed up with The Top Chefs, a San Francisco band made up of Family Not A Group members who’ve previously worked with rappers like SF’s Afterthought and Vallejo’s LaRussell.

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While Cellski’s work has been vastly underappreciated — part of a larger wave of historically overlooked San Francisco rappers — he says he’s more concerned with assisting his community and being a pioneer in his own lane than chasing after fame.

“I’m independent,” he says proudly. “At 18 [years old], I went to City Hall and started my own label. Back then, you could sell $20,000 on your own and make the type of money these record labels wanted to sign you for. It didn’t make sense to sign if you could make money yourself.”

Cellski’s cultivated a loyal fanbase beyond music as well. In recent years, he launched a streetwear brand and boutique, Chemical Baby Clothing, as well as a “mash burger” pop-up, Big Mafi Burgers, which often shows up at the parking lot of Levi’s Stadium before 49ers games or on a weekend afternoon in Golden Gate Park.

Whether you’re a Bay Area hip-hop OG or a newcomer, a live set from Mr. Predicter himself is a rare way to witness San Francisco’s laudable rap legacy.

Cellski performs his album ‘Mr. Predicter’ with a live band on Thursday, Feb. 22, at the Brick & Mortar Music Hall in San Francisco. Ticket info and details here.

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