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16

FRIDAY

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Hiphop MCs are today’s griots, storytellers of the African village. Only the village is now a sprawling urban landscape, a naked city with millions of stories. Samplers and turntables replace African drums, but the beat is still the same. D.C.’s own Freestyle Union, headed up by activist/MC Toni Blackman, will bring its infectious blend of old-school values and freshly invented rhymes to Virginia as part of the Arlington Cultural Affairs Division’s Say the Word literary series. If you scoff at the idea of rap as literary, then you haven’t heard Union member Sub-Z effortlessly weave references to the Bhagavadgita with commentary on the latest White House controversy, Priest da Nomad’s narrative escapades, or Blackman’s free-verse “hiphopoetry.” Here’s a chance to hear positive hiphop without the club smoke, long lines, and cover charges. At 8 p.m. at the NRECA Conference Center, 4301 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. Free. (703) 228-6960. (Holly Bass)