EAR FEAR9 p.m., Village. $5.
So far this year, 607's landed a song on MadDecent.com, one of the most influential DJ blogs in the indie world; appeared on a panel with industry bigwigs at Harvard Law School's Black Law Student Association's spring conference, and guest-starred in a Russian rap video. It's been a relatively quiet year.
Since the early aughts, no one's outworked the Little Rock rapper. In that span, the 30-year-old, whose driver's license gives his name as Adrian Tillman, has released 31 full-length albums and performed, literally, thousands of shows. Until recently, when he wasn't recording or performing, he was out chatting up people, wherever there were people — from Applebee's to the Arkansas Arts Center — always with a briefcase, always filled with CDs of his latest album.
But since spring, after he returned from several weeks in Russia and Africa, 607's been oddly quiet. Turns out he was just expanding his horizons, which isn't exactly an easy task for a rapper who loves goth culture and counts Fiona Apple as one of his favorite artists.
For much of the last six months and for a less concentrated time before that, he's focused on learning to play the violin and cello. His brother and fellow rapper Bobby's taken the trek with him; he's learned to play bass guitar.
On Saturday at the Village, the Tillmans unveil their new group, Ear Fear
; a new album, “Album of the Year,” and what could be new style, bass and cello rap.
But why take away from rapping, a skill 607's honed for more than a decade, to try to pick up an instrument?
It's all about expanding the boundaries of hip-hop and, especially, challenging himself, 607 says.
“Anybody can buy a computer and record an album, so when people ask me what separates me from everyone else, I can point to this.”
(Similar motivation prompted him, he says, to write and record, in 2003, what he calls a “palingraph,” a long rap made up of words that make sense when read both right to left and left to right.)
The long performance hiatus, 607 says, was all about making sure he and Bobby had something worth presenting. He's the first to admit that he's a beginner, but promises his performance will be solid.
Still, the rapper knows that not everyone will come to the show with an open mind.
“It's just like Floyd Mayweather: They don't go to see him win; they go to see if he's going to lose. People will come hoping to see me look stupid, which is fine. They have to pay $5, too.”
There won't be too much time for hate. Only a handful of Ear Fear's new songs feature string parts. Instead, Saturday will largely be a showcase of estimable skill as MCs and performers. From what I could glean from a quick sneak preview of “Album of the Year,” it'll be about showing off some of the strongest songs in 607's long career and Bobby's burgeoning one.
The concert and album mark the latest chapters in what 607 says is a steady evolution.
“I don't really care about the money. I don't care about the recognition. I just don't want to get bored.”