At Santa Cruz High School, Anthony LaFrance easily blends in—he’s 18 years old, on the track team, and his favorite subject is English. But once the school bell rings, he unleashes his rap, R&B, and hip-hop-inspired alias, Antdog Da Beast. “The first time I touched a microphone was in seventh grade,” says LaFrance, who was visiting a radio show at UC Santa Cruz’s KZSC. When the show ended, “I started freestyling over instrumentals and heard the recording … ever since then, I’ve had the urge to make music.”
In the last two years, he has performed all over San Jose and Santa Cruz. But his favorite venue is The Catalyst—he will return to the locale on May 25 to open for Souls of Mischief (Hieroglyphics). But on Saturday, May 19, LaFrance—associated with rap/hip-hop collective, ShowTime M.O.B—will make jaws drop and booties shake with his quick tongue and signature swagger at Bravo! the first annual Youth Talent Showcase put on by Work4Youth. All proceeds will help provide summer employment for local at-risk teens. LaFrance sees the gig as “a positive event for young kids.” He will perform an original song pre-approved by the judges during tryouts. Though he’s keeping it under wraps until then, catch him on YouTube and Myspace in the meantime. Make sure to watch the video for “Thank You”—a song with video game-esque blips, released on Thanksgiving—and “Trayvon Tribute,” a compassionate response to the shooting of the Florida native, carried by beats from “Stay Scheming” by Rick Ross. LaFrance’s version of “Never Look Back” (with the same Johnny Juliano instrumentals), leaves us with inspiring advice: “Can’t be timid of the future/ that means ya ain’t ready/ you gotta be a boss/ don’t be soft like a teddy/ and you’ve gotta catch that shooting star/ ’cause if you don’t/ people won’t know who ya are.” | CYNTHIA ORGEL
INFO: 7 p.m. Saturday, May 19. Cabrillo College Crocker Theater, 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos. $10-$20. 479-6154 or visit brownpapertickets.com; visit work4youth.org. for details.