Cognitive Dissonance: Part One
Black Umbrella; 2014
Score (Potholes In My Blog scale): 4 / 5
Raz Simone’s first album since inking a deal with 300 Entertainment is an instant Northwest classic that also stands as tall as many of the best national releases of 2014. Read what else I had to say about it over at Potholes In My Blog.
It’s been a minute since we’ve heard from the rapper Akrish. His new track, “Walk On By,” is a stirring ballad about heartbreak blessed by the vocals of Malice and Mario Sweet. Tacoma’s Ill Pill produced the mid-tempo cut.
Raz Simone has commandeered this blog’s RSS feed over the course of the last week or so. On the heels of the release of his Cognitive Dissonance: Part One, the team at Black Umbrella let loose with the video for “They’ll Speak,” directed by Stephan Gray. Seattle looks like the set of I Am Legend as Raz roams the streets, alone except for his thoughts.
THE SIX is a regular interview feature on 206UP.COM with a simple format: One member of the local hip hop community and six questions. For past editions click here.
Spekulation has gone viral twice and he’s only getting sicker.
Even before the internet meme fiascos wrought by last February’s Bitter Barista episode and, most recently, the Marshawn Lynch-worshipping turned Seahawks rallying cry, “Bout That Action”, the combo rapper/producer/writer had been carrying a following in the local music scene. That was thanks to his detailed, well-honed projects like 2011′s Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em, a remixed collection of Jay Z songs using samples from local jazz outfit The Jason Parker Quartet, and Spekulation, the ambitious 2012 self-titled, self-produced EP that mixed a classic boom-bap aesthetic with live instrumentation.
Spekulation is here (in the nebulous internet-alized sense of “here”) because of two larks that blew up on the strength of… Well, it’s still not totally clear, I suppose. But he’s also here because of a very obvious love and intense dedication to the craft of hip hop music. For better or worse, Spek will forever be associated with Bitter Barista and “Bout That Action”. Similarly, though, there would be no Harrison Ford without Han Solo, no Macklemore (in his current incarnation anyway) without “Thrift Shop”, and certainly no reprieve for bitter baristas the world over without asshole customers to inspire edifying snark. Spek hopped on this week’s edition of THE SIX to let us in on how he does it.
Surprise! Raz Simone just released his new album Cognitive Dissonance: Part One a full three days earlier than expected, and he made the whole damn thing available for free. The early jump did not allow for industrious bloggers like myself to complete a proper album review, but no matter: my first thoughts were imparted last Thursday after I had the fortune of attending the 300 Entertainment-sponsored NYC listening party. More words to follow, but I suggest just going ahead and bumping the shit to form your own opinion.
Keep digging through the rough and you might find diamonds. That particular adage is applicable to the outcome of the drama RA Scion recently faced with former production partner turned fink Rodney Hazard. Go here to read the saga concerning their late 2013 album, The Sickle & The Sword.
Things are looking brighter now, though, with a new producer on board — electronic maestro and Shabazz Palaces collaborator Vox Mod — to conduct a re-worked version of the original album (new title: Sharper Tool Bigger Weapon) set for release on March 18. Above you’ll see an edited version of the video for “Constant” (originally featuring Hazard’s production), this time called “Fixed” and with Vox Mod’s instrumental.
Nu Era’s Turtle T with a new joint appropriately titled, “Friday Night”. Tacoma’s DJ Phinisey pushin’ buttons. Watch for the duo’s collaborative EP coming soon.
Seattle rapper Raz Simone held his first-ever private listening session yesterday at Terminus Studios, a glistening recording space in midtown Manhattan. The occasion was to preview his upcoming album, Cognitive Dissonance, in front of a couple dozen industry people, a select group of fans, and a smattering of music writers and bloggers. Through what felt like an egregious error in guest listing, the homie Jason Chen and I found ourselves among the people standing inside the recording room, formed in a loose semi-circle around Raz as he introduced the ten tracks on his soon-to-be-released LP.
Jake Crocker is an up-and-coming producer who has done beats for Raz Simone and RA Scion. Ronnie Dylan is his partner-in-rhyme. (Note to self: never use that term again). Together they are: “Ronnie Dylan and Jake Crocker”… C’mon guys, you couldn’t have come up with something better? I keed, though. Their American Dreams EP is a worthy collection of raps and refined, soulful boom-bap. Especially check for a super-lyrical Fatal on “Day Dream”. It’s free to stream and download below.
Today has been a good day for Town music videos with emotive, well-developed narratives. Check below or here for the latest from Grieves (“Shreds”); and up at the moment is Sol’s “Tomorrow” (directed by Grammy nominee Jon Jon Augustavo) which follows a day in the lives of Sol and his crew of childhood friends. It’s something a little warm and fuzzy for this cold February afternoon.
Grieves gets his Jack London on in his new video for “Shreds”, the first single from the rapper’s upcoming Winter & The Wolves due March 25. Pre-order that shit here and get some exclusive swag with your advance commitment.
206UP was first introduced to Town rapper Tulsi via his 2010 LP, Cold Smoke. It’s been a minute since we’ve heard from the proudly independent MC, but he’s back now with a five-track EP called Beauty Of A Curse. It’s an upbeat collection of underground boom-bap, available for free (if you’re feeling greedy) or a price to be determined by the consumer (if you’re the generous type).
Much thanks to Aaron Walker-Loud of Big World Breaks (and many other artistic Town endeavors) for hipping 206UP to this event. The Legacy of Seattle Hip-Hop is being billed as “an active exploration of culture, history and justice through interactive performance, film, a community panel discussion, art and other hands-on activities”. Learn more about the event here, and go here to watch the 50 Next: Seattle Hip-Hop Worldwide documentary which will screen publicly for the first time.
Whew. And if that wasn’t enough, peep a video below by one of the event’s featured performers: “The Hood Ain’t The Same” by Draze.
Mackned’s profane and introspective — dichotomy alert! — clip for “Life On Deck” from the Moor Gang affiliate’s new Alice Gla$$ LP. Grab that for your own choosing below.
The Raz Simone narrative continues to build slowly, but already it’s a powerful one. The Seattle rapper and 300 label signee again forgoes the traditional Hot 97 route in favor of the raw “They’ll Speak”, yet another impassioned punch in the gut. This song is the emotional launch pad upon which his Cognitive Dissonance: Part One (street date March 6, 2014) will take flight.
Here’s a loosey from ILLFIGHTYOU’s UGLYFRANK. With lyrics to go and an instrumental that sounds like cartoons humping in the night, it pretty much defines the term “loosey” in the rap music context. ILLFIGHTYOU is already the next big thing on the deep rap blogs, and UGLYFRANK will be dishing for dolo soon with his forthcoming BOBBY HILL EP.
Nu Era’s latest single, “Marvelous”, gets a suitably gripping video treatment, directed by Jack Leonard. Grab the track here.
Kublakai reaches into the vaults (at least six years, by my estimation) and unearths the track “Clap Yo Hands” (from his The Basics LP) for this fresh, self-directed clip co-starring Symmetry and a quartet of fly dancers.
Apollo Brown & Planet Asia
Abrasions: Stitched Up
Mello Music Group; 2014
Score (Potholes In My Blog scale): 3 / 5
In which my 36 year-old man sensibilities kick in and realize they don’t make ‘em like Premier and RZA anymore (obvi). Read my review of Apollo Brown and Planet Asia’s new EP, Abrasions: Stitched Up, here.
Nu Era with a fresh track concerning the femme fatale variety. “Marvelous” was produced by Andrew Savoie. Happy Valentine’s Day, I guess?
The official Dilla Day 2014 was a week ago in Detroit. The Northwest’s own Perry Porter paid his homage by rapping over three classic James Yancey tracks. Perry’s bars have often been better, but I contend that’s not really the point here: it’s just a pleasure to relive the genius that was J. Dilla.
P. Greens is the down-and-out, knowledge-dropping, hustler alter-ego to the Central District’s Fleeta Partee. Click here for the often hilarious, low-key poignant antics of P. Greens. “DIRTYRUGZ” is the new clip from Fleeta/Greens, directed by the Notework. In which the subject wakes up on a park bench in Bed-Stuy and promptly drinks from a mug emblazoned with the American flag… Somethin’ poisonous in that cup, though.
Ricky Pharoe keeps getting locked out of his house (typical). Best to squat in an abandoned roller rink, he supposes. Lots to unpack here, psychologically, but I’m not a shrink and neither should you be. Why don’t we just enjoy the song, yes?
This is a new track from Ricky and Mark – where “Mark” is Gajamagic, who you already know from Champagne Champagne because you’re soooo fucking cool, aren’t you? — and “Ricky” is Ricky Pharoe formerly (currently?) of Art Vandelay. (Nice homage paid to that group with the exterior shot of Tom’s Diner in Morningside Heights, New York… Now who’s the cool one, jackass?)