What: Blackalicious, with Mosley Wotta, Gainon May

When: 9 p.m. Tuesday, doors open at 8 p.m.

Where: Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 SW Century Drive, Bend

Cost: $25

Contact: volcanictheatre.com or 541-323-1881

Twenty years since the release of Blackalicious’ debut studio album, “Nia,” and Gift of Gab and Chief Xcel are still “stupid for the music.”

You could almost hear Gab’s face light up when a recent conversation with GO! Magazine turned to the 19-track, 70-plus minute album. Blackalicious had been active for about six years when the album released — first in Europe in 1999, then the U.S. in 2000 — and already had a following thanks to a series of EPs (including “A2G,” featuring “Alphabet Aerobics,” which became a viral challenge in 2014).

But “Nia” is where it all came together for Gab, born Timothy Parker, and Xcel, born Xavier Mosley. Xcel’s soulful production and Gab’s wide-ranging, rapid-fire raps — which drew influence from positive hip-hop artists such as De La Soul and Jungle Brothers — stood out on the hip-hop landscape, then and now, and soon the duo signed with major label MCA.

“We were still on Quannum (Projects, a San Francisco hip-hop collective co-founded by Gab and Xcel), and we really wanted to make a statement,” Gab said recently from home in Oakland, a couple of days before kicking off a 20th anniversary tour for “Nia” that hits Volcanic Theatre Pub on Tuesday. “At that point, after the underground success of (1994 EP) ‘Melodica,’ we felt like we have something that is kind of special; we need to really make an impact. We want our heroes to think we’re dope. That album really meant a lot to us.”

Gab fondly recalled the recording sessions, which featured longtime friends and collaborators Lyrics Born and Lateef the Truthspeaker, among others. He and Xcel, friends since their high school days in Sacramento in the ’80s, had recently relocated to the San Francisco area.

“I was living in the Bay and I remember we was recording in Lateef’s aunt’s … basement,” Gab said. “That was just a great time, man. We did the photo for the album with B+ in L.A. … That was when we first met The Lifesavas; Erinn Anova was a part of that record.”

To celebrate, the duo will focus on many “Nia” songs on this tour. Many musicians nowadays mark such record anniversaries by playing the album in its entirety — something Gab and Xcel thought about doing, too, before deciding against it.

“I think it’ would be doper if we just put a raw set together and highlighted a lot of the songs off of ‘Nia,’” Gab said.

This makes sense considering the duo’s prodigious output in recent years. “Imani Vol. 1,” released in 2015 as the start of a planned trilogy of albums, was the duo’s first since 2005’s “The Craft,” and followed Gab’s kidney failure in 2012. He’s been on dialysis since. (He said he will register with a donation center in Arizona at the end of the month, and expects to have a new kidney within six months).

Gab kept working on the road and in the studio, releasing solo albums in the interim between Blackalicious albums. He also teased a fourth solo album, “Finding Inspiration Somehow,” which he said will be out early next year on Brooklyn-based label Nature Sounds.

And “Imani” seems to have opened the floodgates, with Gab teasing more than 70 new Blackalicious songs recorded for the upcoming volumes.

“In the creative process, we were like, let’s just keep going,” Gab said. “Actually, we’ve got about three more albums done.”

When the albums finally see the light of day, fans can expect classic Blackalicious material, Gab said.

“Very much soul music, very much hardcore hip-hop — I think it’s all everything we’ve ever done, but it’s expanded,” he said. “We always like to challenge ourselves; we always like to push ourselves. We always like to do that extra thing that hasn’t been done.”

As with previous releases, “Imani Vol. 1” combined soulful production, wit and a socially and politically conscious heart on songs such as “On Fire Tonight,” which addresses police violence, and “Love’s Gonna Save the Day.” Given the delays, Gab has plenty more to address on the upcoming volumes, from Donald Trump to censorship to continued racial tensions across the U.S.

And Gab certainly has observations to make — but that’s the key word for him. He defended Dave Chappelle’s recent comedy special on Netflix, “Sticks and Stones,” which came under fire for jokes about the LGBTQ community, Michael Jackson and a stereotypical impersonation of a Chinese person.

“I think my whole thing on the Dave Chappelle special is that, you know what? Comedians were not meant to be (taken) seriously,” he said. “And you’ve gotta look at where the public is; you’ve gotta look at people taking the guy who’s a comedian, who’s telling jokes — comedians make fun of people. Now what people are saying is, ‘Don’t make fun of this person, don’t make fun of that person.’ They’re basically — it’s like, damn, s---, you can’t even — your ability to talk or even think freely is slowly getting closed in on.

“All we are as emcees is observers, just like Dave Chappelle as a comedian is,” he continued. “… All I can do as an observer is observe and express what I see. Some of it might be dead on, some of it might not. But as an artist, that’s the artist’s only responsibility, is to observe and then express what they see in their own way, and through their own unique lens, they see life. Their job is to give you that own unique view, not something that’s going to cure everything, but their own unique view of it.”

24006267