In stars on the rise

Perhaps more than any other emcee in hip-hop history, TALIB KWELI epitomizes the bridge between subterranean success and commercial kingship. He led a resurgence of down-to-the-bone, beats-and-rhymes hip hop in the late ’90s as one-third of Black Star alongside high school pal Mos Def. He was the staple of Rawkus Entertainment, the label that at one point seemed capable of battling back against Anglo-adulteration of hip hop on behalf of the genre’s roots. His best solo album, 2002’s Quality, earned major props from kingpin Jay-Z (“If skills sold, truth be told/ I’d probably be, lyrically, Talib Kweli”) . But 2004’s major-label The Beautiful Struggle seemed like an uninspired quest for the mainstream, and it rightfully fell flat. Still, Kweli has remained a viable rhyming force, sampling indie rocker Ben Kweller on his latest mixtape and dropping the best verse on last year’s Dangerdoom. Kweli headlines at the CAT’S CRADLE with THE URBAN SOPHISTICATES on Friday, July 14 at 9 p.m. Tickets are $25. –Grayson Currin

In rockin’ and shoppin’

Handmade fashion and local music make the ROCK & SHOP MARKET soooo much better than shopping at the mall. This Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m., TIR NA NOG across from Moore Square in Raleigh hosts a gathering of 35 craft vendors selling silk-screened apparel, reconstructed T-shirts, handbags, jewelry, handmade iPod covers and lots of other stuff. You can grab a pint and listen to live music by BULL CITY, RYAN POUND and DJ MARCO. Product designer Michelle Smith organized the alternative fashion fair last year, making Raleigh home to one of several DIY craft markets sponsored by Bust magazine across the country. Admission is $3. For more info, visit –Fiona Morgan

In new works

When a staged reading of BOTH HANDS THEATER‘s BROOMS: A PLAY ABOUT SAYING YES swept us off our feet in 2004, we called it an unabashed–and unsentimental–fairy tale for adults. In it, a telemarketing pitch straight from the Twilight Zone gives four women the chance to find the love of their lives. Ah, but there’s a catch…. The finished version opens Thursday at MANBITES DOG THEATER. Call 682-3343 for reservations. Meanwhile, playwrights, actors and directors pack as much drama and comedy as they can–into 10 separate plays that last 10 minutes each–in the 10 x 10 FESTIVAL at the ARTSCENTER in Carrboro, Thursdays through Sundays through July 23. More info: 929-ARTS. –Byron Woods

In further steps

RONALD K. BROWN doesn’t preach. His African-tinged modern dances exhort instead. The focus shifts across his works–from the small Carribean village of High Life and the nomadic bush tribe of Grace to urban hipsters trying to make sense of a post-9/11 world in Come Ye–in an attempt to reflect the true breadth and complexities of the African diaspora. Wherever he is, he’s always urging us forward. His AMERICAN DANCE FESTIVAL performance this week includes High Life, and a biographical world premiere on the life of photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris. Catch Brown Thursday through Saturday nights at 8 p.m. at Duke’s Page Auditorium. For more information, visit Tickets: 684-4444. —Byron Woods

In alt-country up-and-comers

You say that Lucinda Williams’ last couple of records didn’t do that much for you and you’d prefer not to be just another faceless dude in the worship line for golden-voiced pinup Neko Case? So you’re looking for another roots-rock songstress to hitch your wagon to? Meet SARAH BORGES. The Boston-based singer/songwriter/band leader announced her arrival with last year’s Silver City, an alternately sultry and swaggering gem of a debut that blended torch, twang and (thanks to a makeover of “Mellow Doubt”) Teenage Fanclub. Be there for Next Big Thing time when Borges and her band The Broken Singles blast through an early show at THE POUR HOUSE on Thursday, July 13. Tickets are $6 in advance, $8 at the door, and the music starts at 8 p.m. –Rick Cornell

In dreamy images

The exquisitely crafted mixed-media paintings in SCOTT EAGLE‘s new FALLING MAN series, now on display at TYNDALL GALLERIES in Chapel Hill, are inspired by sources as diverse as the myths of Icarus and Daedalus, the Mexican artist Posada, Dover clip-art books, Pieter Breughel the Elder and dreams remembered from childhood. Eagle, a professor in East Carolina University’s prestigious art program, says the falling man icon encapsulates “the contemporary state of constantly being inundated with information and stimulation that, in the bigger picture, really has little meaning.” Though Eagle has been represented by the gallery for several years, this is his first solo show there. A reception for the artist will be held on Sunday, July 16 from 2 to 4 p.m. For more info, call 942-2290 or visit –Michele Natale