Nu Era recently dropped a three-piece called A Start 2 The Beginning and it’s tight as fuck. Preview below and throw some change at the quartet for the tracks.
I expose my deepest darkest secrets and most aspirational dreams with B-Dub and Shao Sosa, your loyal weekly purveyors of that good Pacific Northwest rap shit.
Really tho, thanks to Razor Tongue Radio for having me on. Never thought I’d be asked to give my opinions on Seattle rap in a radio interview format, but it was definitely a lot of fun. Stay up on RTR at their official (yet still under construction) website, here.
NEW MUSIC: “Keys” – Deniro Farrar, Gucci Mane, Nacho Picasso, & Mack Shine (prod. by Blue Sky Black Death)
Blue Sky Black Death recruit the dark side of the rap force for “Keys”: Deniro Farrar, Gucci, Nacho, and Mack Shine. This is sulfur, charcoal and potassium nitrate with BSBD as the casing.
Winner of a past edition of THE TRACKMEET, rapper Araless hit the 206UP inbox with his new track “Attention” (produced by Bellingham’s Goldenbeets). Boom bap with clear reference points for hip hop heads (check that Brother Ali flow in the second verse). I like this.
Tacoma’s The Breaklites make rap kitsch and tongue-in-cheek Americana worship hella catchy on “Shine”. No small feat. Watch for I ❤ America coming this winter.
You might know Perry Porter as one half of Sleep Steady, the enigmatic duo that’s been making underground noise around Town for the last five years or so. Kings Only is Perry’s new solo EP and the rapper sounds the most self-assured he’s ever been. Vocal comparisons to Jay Z are a little lazy but not completely out of bounds (from a superficial standpoint anyway). Nay, Perry Porter seems like that rare cat who marches to the beat of his own inner metronome — definitely one to watch. Kings Only features production by the Supreme Sound Architects (BlackMic x The1storn x DJ Semaj).
Fresh off the internets today: A remix version of Ka.lil’s “Whiskey Mask”, featuring Grynch and Fatal Lucciauno. Check for Ka.lil’s Between Saturday Night & Sunday Morning here.
Peta Tosh borrows four beats from Big K.R.I.T.’s 4evaNaDay instrumentals album for this brief mixtape, Thanks Krit.
Thaddeus David goes in a different sonic direction with the first drop from his upcoming Laws of Attraction. “Sarah’s Last” is a glance at the rapper’s more introspective side over an emotive track by SAT Beats.
Made In Heights seems to get busiest during the Holiday season. Winter Pigeons found the first light of the internets in December three years ago. When we caught MIH’s first live show in Brooklyn last month, my fiancee described their music as “romantic”. I agree, and what better time of year for romance than the Holidays. “Pirouette” is a delicate ballad to curl up to.
“Play It Off” is the most recent evidence of the massive creative growth found on The Physics’ upcoming album Digital Wildlife (December 13). The ballad is synth heavy with a dramatic, churning beat. And is that Thig Nat singing? How did we not know dude could blow like this before?
[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.]
Porter Ray is shining on the strength of three stellar albums. His BLK GLD LP dropped mid-May and was followed by two EPs, WHT GLD and RSE GLD, in October. In partnership, they are the most exciting hip hop to originate from the Town this calendar year, and will undoubtedly find slots on all of the self-important blog year-end lists that populate the local internet from now until the annual turn. (And of course keep your browser tab tuned right here for just such an entry.)
Accolades are immaterial except for the most narcissistic among us, and Porter Ray is not Seattle’s answer to Kanye West. His raps are observational in tone, a little like Kendrick’s and a lot like Nasir’s. When he does stop to honor himself, it usually feels in passing, like his hustle is already rap’s oldest certainty and listeners should know this because they probably read about him in an ancient book — or blog — somewhere. In this way he reminds you of Shabazz Palaces: A brief flicker of genius that sparks up from the communal rap flame burning in perpetuity.
All this to say: Porter Ray’s shit is the new, but it already feels like a fable, son.
206UP: Local media and rap heads around the Town have been quick to place you in that ambiguous “alternative / indie hip hop” category. Does the segmenting of rappers into different sub-genres offend you, or do you welcome it?
Porter Ray: I welcome it. There are different styles of rap music, just as there are sub-genres of rock. We have classic rock, heavy metal, acid, punk, etc… The same principals apply to hip hop.
What’s your earliest Seattle hip hop memory?
Watching Sir Mix-A-Lot’s limo drive past 23rd and Jackson in the video for “Posse On Broadway”. The video for “Baby Got Back” was another one of my first memories of Seattle hip hop as well.
There seems to be a transition in sound from the BLK GLD album to the RSE GLD/WHT GLD EPs: Softer beats on BLK GLD to a bit harder on RSE/WHT. Was this a conscious decision or did it just come about organically?
The transition of sound from BLK GLD to RSE and WHT was definitely a conscious decision we made to try and elevate the music. At the same time, it is something that happened organically being that all of those albums were recorded in the same stretch of time. The music that we were creating, naturally developed into different sounds and vibes as we progressed as artists and began to find ourselves. We’re stepping it up another notch for my next project.
Describe a typical day in the life of Porter Ray these days.
A typical day for me consists of writing, recording, rehearsing and strategizing. I spend a lot of time searching for things to keep me inspired and fuel my creativity, whether its reading, searching for new music, or watching a film. In between all of this I usually have my son Aaron during the late afternoons and evenings. I’ll play him beats and rap to him, or we’ll hit the park and I’ll draw while he plays. After I drop off my seed [with] his mom I’ll link up with MFB or B Roc and hit the studio.
Your rhymes have a strong philosophical and observational quality to them. Would you describe yourself as more of a “watcher” or a “participator”, and why?
Both. I consider myself more of the “observer” as an emcee, however I feel that I’m the “observer” that somehow always ends up participating by proxy.
What’s the last great book you read?
L.A.C.O.S.A.’s Carl Roe and local rap veteran Ripynt teamed up for Underrated, a nine-shot EP of furious rhymes, bars and lyrics… Oh, right, those are all the same thing. Well this duo has ‘em in spades. Carl Roe’s production is serviceable boom-bap: check the well-interpolated Jimi Hendrix sample on “Want It For You” (featuring Mack E) and the retro futurist knock of the title track. Eminem would sound damn good rapping over these instrumentals — whatever that means. Download Underrated for free below.
The gradual rise of Made In Heights (Blue Scholars’ DJ/producer Sabzi and vocalist Kelsey Bulkin) has been a slow but intense burn. For a time, shortly after their relatively low-key but intensely beloved debut in early 2011, the duo topped this blog’s “most searched-for” list for about 30 days straight.
206UP has been a fan since the start. MIH is that rare electo-pop act that finds the perfect balance between the glaring computerized elements of its compositions (Sabzi), and the organic humanist component of its vocals (Kelsey). Success for groups like this depends on existing in the harmony between. (See also: Lorde.)
Made In Heights appeared live on stage for the first time at the Blue Scholars show in Brooklyn, about a month and a half ago. A lot of the songs they played were like the new one you hear below: calculated, bombastic and, at times, seemingly frantic. What remains most impressive about Kelsey Bulkin is how she uses her upper register to neutralize Sabzi’s digital bluster. This new track is called “Death”, but it’s really all about how much life this impressive singer breathes into a modern musical device that is, for all intents and purposes, inanimate without her.
Stoned Ape Theory is the new project between MC HD Thuro and producer Ill Pill. HD I’ve never heard of before, but Ill is the beatmaker responsible for Rockwell Powers’ Kids In The Back records (in addition to production work for Sol and Grynch). “Earthlings” is the duo’s first single from their upcoming The Stone Tape. It’s rap as autobiography set in space, and it bumps along pleasantly enough.
I never understood, if smoking all that weed and drinking all that lean makes you so “Paranoid” then perhaps one should lighten up on the vices. No matter; Livio breathes that street rap shit. Download his Can I Liv over at DatPiff.
Sensual, proud and smooth as hell, Gabriel Teodros came through with a new joint: “Black Love”, featuring Sarah MK. SoulChef on the beat.
About two weeks ago, Porter Ray released two new EPs titled WHT GLD and RSE GLD through his Bandcamp page. Town music writers in the know have been gushing about them since, and for good reason. Their mysterious appearance on the scene reminded me a little of early 2009, when two beautifully-adorned compact discs arrived in my New York City mailbox from a well-connected hip hop envoy in Seattle who I’ve still never met in person.
Of course Porter is already somewhat known around town on the strength of his previous effort, the BLK GLD LP, which you heard me gushing about back in May. At the moment, the 25 year-old Central District native is probably your favorite local rapper’s favorite rapper. Observant and perceptive beyond his years, Porter Ray reminds me of a young Ishmael Butler, which is probably a lazy comparison (and one that’s been made already), but fuck it, it’s apropos. Better yet, he’s the blunted nephew of Nas: a student of the street rap game with more ink in his pen and a busier mind than the majority of his peers.
It’s hard not to absorb WHT GLD and RSE GLD as a single, cohesive release (or, at the very least, the sides A and B follow-up to BLK GLD). And in that regard, it’s also similar to the Shabazz Palaces/Of Light dual CD from ’09. But where Ish treads deep into esoteric rhyme territory, Porter generally stays close to the ground, rapping visceral bars while maintaining a sharp, philosophical bravura. The beats here are harder and move with more purpose than those on BLK GLD, which makes for better riding music.
With more eyes on the Seattle rap scene than ever before, it’s the ideal time for artists not named Macklemore to come into their own. Styles here are as varied as the undersea life moving about in the Puget Sound, and Porter Ray’s is a rare species.
Avatar Darko doesn’t look like Rick Ross, or sound like Rick Ross. But his lyrics are bawsy like Rawse. I would go so far as to say he’s the closest thing Seattle has to Ross. Crazier statements have been made, I’m sure. “Phlex” is off Av’s upcoming Boris The Blade EP which is being produced entirely by Megaman.
Happy weekend, fam.
“The Three Rules” music video by Art Vandelay. Take 2. Ricky Pharoe “hated” the first version, and if you go back to our original YouTube post of that clip, you get an ominous “This Video Does Not Exist”. I can’t think of a more fitting message when it comes to Ricky and his producer cohort Mack Formway, Seattle’s top professors of hip hop pessimism.
No, no not that Wizdom. This Wizdumb. He of the subterranean Town work, Basementality from late last year. Check below to sample that album’s wares. “The Listen” is Wiz’s latest video effort and it features one of your dude’s favorite producers, Def Dee, whose Mello Music Group debut, 33 And A Third, is also worth a spin.
Thaddeus David follows up his highly enjoyable NoneTheLess with a new mixtape, MoorThanLess. Hear his take on beats previously assigned to Future, Smoke DZA, Prodigy, and more (I mean, Moor).
Rapper/producer/author/actor/activist/barista* Spekulation dropped his Doc Watson The Instrumental Album on Monday. Thirteen shots for you to freestyle rap to. If that’s your thing.
(*Only four of these six things are true. As far as I know, anyway.)
Electro-pop trio The Flavr Blue released their new EP yesterday, Bright Vices. You can preview and download it below. Click over to Potholes In My Blog to read some more stuff I wrote about it.