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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Nu Era’s latest single, “Marvelous”, gets a suitably gripping video treatment, directed by Jack Leonard. Grab the track 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.
This song is not about Morgan Freeman. It’s not even really about Captain Morgan Rum. It’s mostly about those idle times that wrought devil’s playground hands, told to you by Donte Peace and Nacho Picasso. It’s hella grimy in the best possible way. With someone called Maxtrax on the beat.
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.
The Physics had the best Seattle hip hop album of 2013 — by this website’s estimation, anyway — with Digital Wildlife. And that record wouldn’t have come together as well as it did without the musical talents of the group’s two vocalists: real-life couple Malice (given name: Crystal) and Mario Sweet. Their R&B harmonies with The Physics generally act as subtle but vital backdrops to the crew’s deep hip hop roots, and the natural chemistry they share with rappers Thig Nat and Monk Wordsmith, and producer/rapper Justo, makes for the most appealing collaborations in Seattle rap.
Malice and Mario stepped out on their own with 2011′s Happy 2 Year, a celebration of both their love for music and second wedding anniversary. H2Y was followed in July of 2013 by Enjoy Like Love, an upbeat collection of original songs unapologetically inspired by R&B/soul from the ’80s and ’90s, as well as pop culture touchstones from those decades. For those of us born in the late ’70s and early ’80s, Enjoy Like Love feels like an audio love letter written just for us.
Malice and Mario jumped on THE SIX to answer questions about their backgrounds in music, what it’s like performing and touring as The Physics, and what their musical futures might hold.
Moor Gang/Cloud Nice affiliate Steezie Nasa dropped a brand new seven-piece three days ago. The usual Moor suspects have their fingerprints all over this one: MackNed, Rob Skeetz, et al. And Caz Greez lends bars to one track, thereby closing the circle on two of the Town’s best rap collectives.
The Bar’s Prometheus Brown and Bambu are featured on Power Struggle’s latest drop, “A Round For My Friends”. Nomi (frontman MC for PS) links fundamentally/organizationally with his Beatrock Music brethren. “Fight music ’til there’s nothing left to fight about,” raps Pro Brown. This is fist up, marching music.
Mike Champoux raps and produces, probably more successfully at the latter than the former. Still, though, his passion for the art form is clear. “All I Need” is a love letter to music and an outtake from his upcoming album, Michael, due in April.
Tyrone, the working class hero, dropped this single back in November. Shout-out to him for linking me to it in the New Year, though. “Work Boots” forgoes the space oddities, triple beam dreams, and hyperbolic monetary chamber rap of contemporary hip hop, for the always grueling, rarely rewarding rhythm of hard labor. The best thing about this joint is how Tyrone bridges the seemingly unrelated divide between all manners of hustle.
206UP.COM’s The TrackMeet is a regular feature here on the blog that pits three relatively new or unknown local hip hop artists against each other in a battle-of-the-songs style competition. If you’re a reader, it’s easy to participate: Just listen to the three featured tracks below and then vote for your favorite in the online poll at the bottom of the post. Voting lasts for one week. Each winning entrant will be featured on an upcoming TrackMeet Mixtape (the first edition of which you can download here). If you’re an artist looking to submit for an upcoming competition, click here for submission guidelines.
Somehow we’ve been off The TrackMeet for a minute. And by “a minute” I mean since last July. SMH. Anyway, submissions have yet to dry up because everyone and their grandmother’s bridge partner is trying to rap in the Town nowadays. Below are three such rappers trying to get a buzz. They put in the work and now it’s your turn, dear readers, to click, listen and vote! As always, links to download the tracks are provided.
LANE 1: “Wasted Time” – Mojo Barnes
LANE 2: “Summertime Shoppin” – Coop
LANE 3: “Untouchable” – Loc Saint
NEW MUSIC: “Bout That Action (Beast Mode Remix)” / “This Ain’t A Seahawks Anthem” – Spekulation (feat. Marshawn Lynch, Deion Sanders & Prometheus Brown)
The Super Bowl story that’s not really a story: Marshawn Lynch and his (now trademarked) understated press conference appearances. Somewhere in here lives a thought piece on Marshawn’s brilliant upending of our country’s expectations of how Black athletes should present themselves to the public — the counterpoint to Richard Sherman’s outspoken cries of excellence. Why in God’s name aren’t we wringing our hands over this?!
Town rapper and producer Spekulation gives us the soundtrack for our rumination: “Bout That Action (Beast Mode Remix)” subverts our complex reactions to Marshawn’s curious behavior by employing a singular telling statement made by the man himself. The simple repetition of his sampled words, “Bout that action, boss”, are matched by the equally rudimentary drum pattern of the song, thereby distilling Lynch’s message to its fundamental constituent elements: He is, simply, ’bout that action, boss. And we should be, too. God bless everyone. And God bless the United States of Super Bowl America.
Update, 1.30.14, 4:45pm PST:
And the inevitable remix to the remix: “This Ain’t A Seahawks Anthem”, featuring Prometheus Brown rapping from what sounds like a busy sports bar lobby or the non-business end of his cell phone.
The rap internet’s been buzzing the last few days about Raz Simone’s don’t-call-it-a-signing creative partnership with Lyhor Cohen’s new label, 300. That’s pretty big news for a Town rapper who’s seemingly been on the cusp of stardom for a couple of years now. Here’s hoping Raz continues to be the vital counterpoint to Seattle’s current national — and international — hip hop envoy, you-know-who.
Raz’s team recently made his latest single, “Don’t Shine”, available for free download. Click here for that. And click play below if you missed the accompanying video which dropped a couple weeks back.
In case you missed the video for Mo’ Money’s striver’s anthem “Off The Block” from a couple weeks back, here it is again for your viewing pleasure. The track appears on the rapper’s new Everybody Needs A Lil Mo’ Money, available for free at DatPiff.
Mo’ Money is part of the LakeHouse Entertainment collective, a ragtag bunch of MCs, producers and skaters who ran a delightfully low-budget shop out of a lake-front home that has since gone the way of the mortgage foreclosed. Shout-out to RoofDogg who has generously kept 206UP in the loop about LakeHouse Ent’s whereabouts and who ensures the New Year will bring a grip of new music and videos from the crew.
There has been a recent movement in the Town toward documenting, both aurally and visually, the rap-related things happening inside the bounds of this fair area code. From the good folks at Mad NW who are responsible for the excellent local rap documentary The Otherside, to blogger Jack Devo’s online vault of Seattle music rarities, and finally to the burgeoning Do The Math podcast, created and hosted by 206 hip hop superfan Deven Morgan.
Meant to be a StoryCorps of sorts strictly for the Seattle rap nerd set, Deven is both honest and earnest in his love for Town hip hop. Episode 2 features the vital producer Jake One waxing nostalgic about creating records in the former heyday of Seattle hip hop. Do The Math seeks to highlight the so-called “second wave” of Seattle rap, the time and artists just after Sir Mix-A-Lot’s apex, but before the rise of Blue Scholars and Macklemore. These are the typically forgotten artists, best represented by the loose collective known as Tribal Music whose Do The Math compilation album, released in 1996, is both the namesake and spiritual foundation for Deven Morgan’s podcast endeavor.
I can’t claim any amount of authority over Tribal or Do The Math other than what I’ve read — and heard — since starting this blog in earnest four and a half years ago. I will say, though, that Tribal’s brand of hip hop is the type to which I’ve always been most drawn in life. DTM is a Golden Era revivalist’s wet dream, created on the tail-end of that movement’s waning years* a time when rap music, it seemed, was less about singular identities and more about the movement. That’s fairly nebulous, I suppose, but so becomes history when the great windshield wiper of the mind blurs and distorts your recall over time. Thank the rap gods, then, that someone is committing these things to permanent record.
*Technically it’s post-Golden Era, but things arrive late in Seattle. So be it.
On Laws of Attraction Thaddeus David verges away from his heavy, trap-influenced sound to something a little gentler. Rapid high hats still abound, but behind a more supple backdrop. SAT Beats pushed all the buttons on this one.
Astro King Phoenix is a striving young rapper from the Town whose Prequel To The Glory can be a fairly engaging listen. Sci-fi philosophy and indirect pillow talk filter through producer Ike Watson’s polished, modern sounds. In fact, often it’s Watson who leaves the biggest impression: “Lost” and “Poison Ivy” have nicely-executed sample flips and Astro’s flow becomes secondary to the hazy, R&B-tinged beats.