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Hiphop was never merely music. Moments after the form’s conception, street entrepreneurs were growing tentacles and sticking them into every sort of business, re-imagining the producer as everything from studio impresario to headmaster of a training camp for up-and-coming talent to major-motion-picture player. So it should be little wonder that three artists with backgrounds in hiphop, soul, and synco-funk have come together to form what might be the first R&B “supergroup,” a more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts collective of new and old African-American musical traditions that calls itself, obscurely, Lucy Pearl. Fronted by one dance-floor soulster from the shoulder-pad era (Raphael Saadiq of Tony! Toni! Tone!), one diva from a postmodern girl group (En Vogue’s Dawn Robinson), and a major hiphop power (A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad), Lucy Pearl combines funky rhythmic smarts, soaring sexy soul, and street-smart attitude. They sing, they rap, they pose, they do that “Dance Tonight” thing from the Love & Basketball soundtrack that you’ve heard even if you don’t know you’ve heard it. And they do it all with real live instruments—they’re all musicians as well as singers and composers—and a hot-to-trot backing band that brings some much-needed live-performance fire into the chilly world of electronic R&B. Lucy Pearl performs at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 22, at Nation, 1015 Half St. SE. $25. (202) 554-1500. (Arion Berger)