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Originally published Friday, June 20, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Bobby Digital (aka RZA): rap genius and ... superhero?

"Around 1998, I became a superhero in real life. " So begins an entry in "The Wu-Tang Manual," by Robert F. Diggs, aka RZA ("rizza"), leader...

Special to The Seattle Times

"Around 1998, I became a superhero in real life."

So begins an entry in "The Wu-Tang Manual," by Robert F. Diggs, aka RZA ("rizza"), leader of the legendary New York City hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan. Among other bits of philosophy and mythology, RZA explains one of his many hip-hop alter-egos, Bobby Digital.

Bobby Digital has two uneven, occasionally brilliant albums to his name — "RZA as Bobby Digital in Stereo" (1998) and "Digital Bullet" (2001) — and RZA says there's also an eponymous movie. A third album, "Digi Snacks," comes out Tuesday; RZA performs as Bobby Digital the same day at the Showbox SoDo.

RZA handles all the production and one-ninth of the rapping for Wu-Tang, but Bobby Digital is 100 percent his baby. Whereas Wu-Tang's sound is gritty patchworks built from old records and hard-core rap, Bobby Digital's songs have been spacey and more electronic, the rhymes telling intense, often lewd adventure stories.

Don't think it's all just a digital dream, though. RZA is a genius, but he's also kind of crazy. From his book:

"I was getting ready to go out at nighttime and right some wrongs. ... I had this suit built for me that's literally invulnerable to AK fire. The car was a black Suburban that I had made bulletproof and bombproof up to government-security-level standards. ... I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars. To get Bobby Digital up and online. To keep it real."

This Bobby Digital tour comes after RZA notably did not join the rest of Wu-Tang on their winter tour in an attempt to quell near-groupwide animosity. The Clan claimed RZA had taken all kinds of ill-advised postproduction liberties and made "8 Diagrams," last year's Wu-Tang album, sound too weird for the other members' tastes. Critics mostly thought the psychedelic "Diagrams" was a left-field triumph.

Also appearing Tuesday at the Showbox SoDo with RZA/Bobby Digital is Stone Mecca, an L.A. soul-funk band that plays on "Digi Snacks" ($20-$25, doors open at 8 p.m., all ages). Opening is local rap group the Saturday Knights, who will release their debut album, "Mingle," next Friday at Nectar.

More club action this weekend and through the week:

Saturday

At Nectar's Summer Solstice Celebration, check out Spokane DJ James Pants, whose recent album "Welcome" (on L.A. label Stones Throw Records, home of the best progressive hip-hop in the world) mines '80s electro and boogie breaks, combines them with a basement full of live percussion and gleefully cheap-sounding synthesizers, and ends up with pure sunshine. Nectar's Solstice party goes on all day for free; show up after 8 p.m. and it'll cost you $10 (21 and up). James Pants goes on late.

Sunday

Seattle rap fans rejoice — Dyme Def is releasing a CD full of new material! A "mixtape" (whatever that means) called "3 Bad Brothaaas," it follows previous album "Space Music," the most exciting local rap release last year next to Grayskul's "Bloody Radio." Slowly adding to their always fiery live shows, rappers Fearce Villain, S.E.V., Brainstorm and producer/DJ Bean One have periodically unveiled strong new tracks this year (the Rakim-sampling "Follow the Leader" stands out), and you can witness a cache of new heat Sunday at Nectar (with Kublakai, Marcus D., JFK of Grayskul, the Physics, Neema and DJ Fourcolorzack; doors open at 8 p.m.; $10; all-ages, bar with ID). It's the group's last local show before they start playing dates on the Vans Warped Tour.

Tuesday

Local trio the Blakes play Neumo's Tuesday (with the Broken West; 8 p.m.; $10; all-ages, bar with ID), doing three-minute rock 'n' roll incantations of Mick Jagger's many moods: sweet, wistful, angry and horny. The reckless flair that drummer Bob Husak and brothers Snow (bass, vocals) and Garnet Keim (guitar, vocals) put into live renditions of songs off their excellent self-titled album (on Aurora Avenue-based Light in the Attic Records) is absolutely infectious proof that the Blakes live in the moment. After this concert, the band leaves to tour Europe with the Brian Jonestown Massacre, co-stars of the 2004 rock documentary "DiG!"

Wednesday

Local "indie-pop" Web site Three Imaginary Girls (www.threeimaginarygirls.com) throws a concept party at Chop Suey Wednesday (8 p.m.; $8; 21 and up) called "Exile in (Imaginary) Girlville." Playing songs from pop songstress Liz Phair's "Exile in Guyville" album, a cult classic now rereleased 15 years after it came out, will be local "indie-pop" group Throw Me the Statue, Rachel Flotard from Visqueen and seven other area acts.

Andrew Matson contributes to www.raindrophustla.blogspot.com. Reach him at matson.andrew@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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