Theater & Arts

Artists you should know: Alpha Force

Fresno rap duo Alpha Force is calling its debut album "Fight the Man."

But Alpha Force emcees Optimum Prime and Knodaledge are fighting more than that -- they're also fighting current hip-hop trends.

Their sound is as old school as their names, which are references to "Transformers" and Rakim.

We talked to Knodaledge in advance of the group's CD-release party at 9 p.m. Saturday at Last Call, 1105 N. Blackstone Ave. Cover is $6.

How did Alpha Force get started? We hooked up through a mutual connection. Optimus Prime had been in the scene for a while, and I was just trying to break in. We had worked on a song for a school project and then just said, "Hey, this sounds good." So we ran with it. Our styles really meshed well, which was weird because we both had very distinct sounds, especially for Fresno hip-hop.

I know of shoes, books and a video game called Alpha Force. Explain the meaning of your name. We actually wanted the name to be a mixture of two things we both loved: Golden Age hip-hop and late '80s-early '90s comic books. We thought Alpha Force reflected that very well. We didn't really know about all the other stuff with the same name until later. Yeah, we Google ourselves. Big whoop! Ha ha.

Your sound is very much a throwback to Golden Age hip-hop; who are your influences? My influences are my family, Big Punisher, Brother Ali and soul singers like Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye. There's really too much to mention. For Optimus Prime, it's Chubb Rock, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Brother Ali, Jeru The Damaja and a lot more.

Why that style of hip-hop as opposed to what's popular nowadays? We actually didn't even think of our style being that different until people pointed it out. I mean, we just made music that sounded good to us. I guess we never really left that golden age.

What can you tell us about your new CD? It's pretty much a mix of the old and new school. We wanted to put out a CD that would let the listeners feel as if they knew us personally. We also wanted the CD to be right for all occasions -- the type that would stay in constant rotation on the CD or MP3 player.

What's your favorite song on it? "Whoa!" I remember being like 15 years old and going to watch [local rap group] The Basement perform at Fresno State, and to get [Basement emcee] Trunks on a track was really exciting for me. Optimus Prime's favorite is "Alpha Force." It's one of the first songs we recorded, and everyone always comes up and tells us it's their favorite.

What should people expect from Saturday night's show? Energy. We really try to give of our souls with each show. We'll have Shon J doing a song with us, L.I.O.N. Records and Abstract Genius from The Fresh Boyz on a huge posse cut and Trunks doing "Whoa!" with us. Just come out and have a good time, we will. We'll be giving a copy of the CD for free with every paid cover until we run out of room or CDs.

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Know a local musician that more people should be familiar with? Send the who and why to Mike Osegueda,