Just as in most forms of popular music, the real deal in hip-hop lurks in the underground. So when L.A. indie label Mush Records brings five of its acts to town this week, don't expect anyone to flow about "bitches" or "hos," no emcees to sing about Cristal and "bling-bling;" no straight-up raps 'bout bustin' caps, and best of all, no recognizable samples from '80s mega-hits.

Instead, headliners cLOUDDEAD, who wowed audiences at Solar Culture in March, are probably the only rap group to ever be compared to both Radiohead and Cypress Hill. The comparison isn't unfounded. Yes, the emcees have that nasally thing going on a la the Hill, but they manage to be nowhere near as whiny or cloying. And as for that Radiohead parallel, perhaps no one in hip-hop since Tricky has sounded so creepily claustrophobic.

Radioinactive, meanwhile, rhyme about spaceships and mythological existence at light-speed, over beats and effects even more psychedelic than you might expect; and while Baltimore's Labtekwon might be the most traditional emcee on the bill, he still sports better flow than 90 percent of the chart-riding "playas." Reaching Quiet and Boom Bip & Doseone round out the bill. Three of the five - cLOUDDEAD, Reaching Quiet, and Radioinactive - will be performing strictly with live bands.

If you've never heard of the Mush clan, but keep a place in your heart for the brainy likes of Black Star and Company Flow, do yourself a favor and educate yourself.

Mush Records