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Band with a master plan

From production company to growing underground hip-hop label, Dres tha Beatnik's baby, 4 Kings Entertainment, is birthing more than Apache Cafe's Tuesday night Mic Club.

First Team has been hitting Atlanta — and the Southeast — long before 2002, about the time 4 Kings started taking on new artists. The hip-hop band includes two MCs, Compton-bred Quanstar and Queens native Eva-Ready R.A.W.; guitarist Adam Bomb; drummer and Denver native Yahya; and Matt Fried on bass.

"We're a hip-hop band, but originally we were just MCs," says Quan. "We just picked up the band about halfway through the [first] album. It's a good introduction. It's kinda like our transition into the band."

As if enjoying the Dres-tagged "greatest free-form hip-hop band in the world" wasn't enough, exposing the masses to the 4 Kings lineup — as well as First Team's second album, Life Is ..., (available at Tower Records, Criminal Records and online) — is the purpose behind Saturday's party. Expect true-school rhymes, beats with jazz-improvised flavor, and no samples, sequencers or a DJ. It's all live — whether you get open and dig it, or prefer to follow and deny it.

"Every show — our whole philosophy as a label — is that the goal or responsibility of an artist is to advance civilization as we know it," says Dres. "We're looking for shepherds, not sheep."

Of First Team's hip-hop-meets-alt-rock vibe, Quan says, "We're hip-hop's bastard child. Nobody agrees; everyone has an opinion on what we do until we do it. When we explain the concept to everyone, they're like, 'Oh ... OK,' and then when they hear it, it's like, 'Yeah, that's hot.'"

See, hear — and think — for yourself.

First Team, with 4 Kings artists Dres, DJ Quiz, the Greasekydz, Theory of Mind and RCUE, plays Apache Cafe, Sat., Aug. 21, 9 p.m. (doors). $10.