VIDEO: “This is Hip Hop” – Fleeta Partee (feat. Yirim Seck, Jarrard Anthony & John Crown; dir. by The Notework)
Fleeta takes you to school. Literally.
NEW MUSIC: “This Is Hip Hop” – Fleeta Partee (feat. Jarrard Anthony, Yirim Seck & John Crown; prod. by Jake One)
Blog favorite Fleeta Partee is preparing a remix album follow-up to last year’s Lifemuzik. It is aptly titled Lifemuzik Duex. Big talent can be found on the first release, “This Is Hip Hop”, in the form of Jarrard Anthony, Yirim Seck, John Crown, and Jake One.
The King of Ballard enlists the help of some famous friends for a remix to “Mister Rogers”. Slug, Bam and Jake on the track is one of the most formidable lineups in recent Seattle rap memory. (And Bam expressing his concern over getting got in one of the Town’s most affable ‘hoods is worth a hearty chuckle.)
For real though, shout-out to the good folks at La Carta de Oaxaca, still one of my favorite restaurants in Seattle. And the mighty Than Brothers on Market. And the Majestic Bay Theatres, still the comfiest place to catch a flick in the Six. And the stylish but vastly overpriced Blackbird whose employees were mad helpful to my girl when she was tryna order me a dope Filson joint. Shit, man, Ballard is kinda filthy.
Grynch and his sweater game swag.
“Boom” is the latest drop from Bam’s One Rifle Per Family and it was produced by Seattle’s own Jake One. New York fam take note: the LA rapper is in town tomorrow performing at S.O.B.’s as part of his Rent Money Tour. Tickets here.
The Central’s Fleeta Partee with the third single from his recent Lifemuzik. Sample-flip maestro Jake One on the beat. Go here to cop.
The estimable folks at heavy-on-the-independent Potholes In My Blog (conflict of interest alert!) collaborated with Seattle super-producer Jake One for this 12-track mix. Local representation via The Physics and Vitamin D. Click here to find the review I wrote for The Physics’ Tomorrow People.
From The Physics’ upcoming Tomorrow People (release date: August 25), “Take A Win” is more of that understated excellence the crew is known for. Jake on the beat.
The Central District’s Fleeta Partee is an OG of the Seattle rap game. His upcoming LifeMuzik EP features production by Vitamin D and Jake One. “Inception” is the new single. SEA street knowledge exemplified, it’s worth the 99 pennies.
Grynch is gearing up for the release of his new LP, Perspective, due March 2 of this here year. “So Far” is a monster look with monster features and a monster producer behind the console. Get it here via 2dopeboyz.
Sol doesn’t care if his music goes pop. It’s the first thing he says on “Paint,” the decidedly upbeat Imogen Heap-sampling track from his sophomore full-length, Yours Truly. It’s a good thing, too, because with this record the accomplished (and still rising) Seattle MC has a terrific collection of songs that succeeds in connecting the universal pleasure principles of pop music with legitimate hip-hop artistry. Spinning through Yours Truly for the second time I couldn’t help but think this is what Lupe Fiasco’s Lasers should have sounded like.
Sol’s early 2009 debut, The Ride, introduced the EMP Sound Off! finalist and University of Washington student (now graduate) to the area hip-hop scene. His gravelly register and laser-precise technical ability helped him to stand out from a sudden rush of similarly-aged MCs looking to get on in the spontaneous combustion that was the Puget Sound rap scene. With the subsequent Dear Friends trio of EPs, Sol took a definitive turn away from the underground boom-bap that dominated The Ride and moved to a more soulful mix of R&B and blunted pop-rap.
The culmination of that transition is the 12-track (plus one bonus) Yours Truly. You can blame Sol’s affinity for weed or his advancing maturity (probably a bit of both) for the easy-going sensibilities of this album. Like all intelligent and skilled MCs, Sol has learned his life and career don’t hinge on spitting the best bars or realest shit ever written on each subsequent verse; consistency is important, too. Establishing a relationship with his listeners is what Sol values most here. He plays the part of both critic and member of his particular generation on “2020,” urging his peers to shed what he perceives as an identity-threatening ambivalence and stand for something. He also loves the ladies, or, more accurately, the ladies love Sol. On the whimsical “Ugly Love” (featuring Shaprece) he recognizes his status as one of the city’s circumstantial rap sex symbols and uses (presumably) learned experiences to both celebrate and lament the profits of his cachet.
My estimation is that Yours Truly will be a hit among close followers of Seattle hip-hop, especially with the younger set that leans toward the more Clear Channel variety. That’s just fine of course — equal representation is important in establishing a holistic listening environment, after all. Heads who don’t favor this brand of vodka can rest in the edification of a track like “Rap Life.” The standout Jake One-produced banger is a reminder that Sol’s hustle is rooted deeply in the hip-hop fundamentals and, at the very least, his growth sprouts from an unadulterated love for the art. Yours Truly is quality, independently-produced music with the artist’s full stamp of approval, and if that’s synonymous with “honesty,” then the effort is always above reproach.
I do believe there’s a great album lurking in Sportn’ Life’s hyperactive court jester Spac3man. Too bad it’s taking him so damn long to come with it. Maybe the forthcoming Beyond The Stars EP will deliver. Until then, here’s an enjoyable banger produced by JakeOne.
Those drums…Damn. I don’t know if they originally belonged to Jake or not, but Brother Ali lays his words down on ‘em and claims them for his own. Check the one minute mark when the sample falls away and all that’s left is the hook and the spare beauty of the rhythm.
(Spotted at Members Only.)
“Amazing” is the first single from Fatal Lucciauno’s next LP, Respect (dropping February 21). J. Pinder performs a guest shot and JakeOne handles the beat. In Seattle rap it doesn’t get much better than this.
Former Huskies offensive lineman Gregory “Preach” Christine (of SEA/Cali crew Bent Twig) just posted this clip on Facebook. The penultimate University of Washington Stan track? Probably. Like the four area artists on the song, I live in 1991. #GoDawgs
The track artwork alone makes this worth the listen. Classic Jake boom-bap and in-the-wind Grynch flow, notwithstanding.
Fatal Lucciauno is one of Seattle hip-hop’s greatest communicators. Aside from being a great rapper, his flow is transport for a hulking emotional depth that escapes the grasp of most MCs. When he raps, you believe him. It’s been too long since his last project, 2007′s The Only Forgotten Son. “Warm Ups” is in advance of three projects in 2011, including his next full-length album, Respect.
J. Pinder prepares for a Code Red re-up (watch for ver. 2.0 coming 1.25.11) with another good look on the visuals. Beat courtesy of Jake One. Gas for the whip courtesy of the Valero station on Rainier. Makes me miss the South End. *Sigh*
As a hip-hop and baseball obsessed youth, I constantly formulated Top 10 Lists. Athletes, shoes, songs, movies — if it was rate-able, I was Top 10′in it, practically weekly. This is probably why 206UP.COM’s year-end list is my favorite post to write. Last year I waxed not-so-poetically on how, in 2005, Seattle’s underground rap scene single-handedly renewed my faith in the music. This year my affinity for Town rap became even tighter knit.
The albums, songs, free downloads, and videos that originated strictly in Seattle were enough to keep my hip-hop appetite satisfied through the whole year. Not to say excellent new albums by nationally known artists (Big Boi, The Roots, Kanye West, etc.) weren’t heavy on my playlist, or that the underground movements in other cities weren’t relevant. It’s just that hip-hop in the 2-0-6 is so grown now, more than it’s ever been, and the voices, perspectives and spectrum of sounds in our Town are talented and diverse enough to keep my ears fully attuned.
While there were some glaring omissions in 2010 (the new Physics LP being the most significant, for me), there were some other big advancements and unexpected surprises:
The emergence of La (formerly known as Language Arts) as a force to be reckoned with (at least on wax). This cat blew through like a Northeaster on his two LP’s, Gravity and Roll With The Winners, spitting outlandish braggadocio unlike any other rapper in town.
Two career-defining performances by Blue Scholars. The first was at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City, which I wrote about, here. At this show, the Scholars proved to the hip-hop world that they could hang in the Mecca, legitimizing their voice on a whole new level. (Macklemore’s opening performance was definitely notable, too.) The other show folks were buzzing about was the City Arts music festival performance at The Paramount, the first time a local hip-hop group rocked the venerable theater’s stage. Blue Scholars made history, nationally and locally, with these two shows.
This year also saw artists better known for their previously established collaborative endeavors break out with successful new excursions. JFK and Onry Ozzborn both dropped excellent LP’s independent of their legendary Grayskul partnership — JFK on the straight-up solo tip and Onry Ozzborn in collaboration with Chi-town producer Zavala. RA Scion reinvented himself with his Victor Shade project with producer MTK. And Gabriel Teodros and Amos Miller connected in Brooklyn, forming the impromptu collab Air 2 A Bird after being rebuffed in London on the eve of their world tour.
But enough with the recap. The following list represents what 206UP.COM sees as the best Seattle hip-hop albums of the year. There was no real science to compiling the list and, when it comes down to it, these things are matters of pure conjecture, subject to debate and relentless criticism of the people who made them (which this blog always welcomes, by the way). Enjoy the list and Happy New Year!
JFK – Building Wings on the Way Down
LaRue – Saturn Returns
Avatar Young Blaze – Russian Revolution Mixtape
10. State of the Artist – SeattleCaliFragilisticExtraHellaDopeness
The album equivalent of a 2-0-6 hip-hop houseparty, by design SeattleCal wasn’t exactly an official debut LP for State of the Artist, but a showcase for much of the talent in the city. The three SOTA emcees were consistently outshone by their guests and a lot of times the lyrics didn’t seem to make any sense. As strictly a party album, however, there wasn’t one better.
9. Victor Shade – Victor Shade
The re-birth of RA Scion as the rap superhero Victor Shade saw a major shift in musical tone, but not a dramatic change in delivery or aesthetic. RA’s lyrics are still dense as hell and require close examination on paper in order to understand their meaning. It all sounded great, however, over MTK’s knocking production. RA Scion (aka. Victor Shade) remains the most professorial battle rapper in Seattle.
8. Air 2 A Bird – Crow Hill
A soaring achievement considering the bare-bones tools Air 2 A Bird (Gabriel Teodros and Amos Miller) had to work with when making this album in Brooklyn. In its creation, Crow Hill captured the very essence of hip-hop: eloquent poetics, masterful improvisation and a revolutionary spirit (albeit on a quieter and more reserved scale). This album proves that hip-hop executed with class and panache can be just as effective as the bombastic variety.
7. La – Roll With The Winners
This “debut” album from the emcee formerly known as “Language Arts” featured expert throwback production by an unknown producer named Blu-Ray, whose heavy soul sampling sounds like The Alchemist on his most nostalgic day. The highlight, though, was La’s take-no-prisoners lyrical work. Hearing raw talent like this is akin to watching Allen Iverson play basketball for the first time. At this stage in his career La is still all fearless potential, but on paper he might already be the most technically sound rapper in the city.
6. Helladope – Helladope (aka Return to Planet Rock)
Helladope’s Tay Sean is far too young a cat to be making music with this much soul and expert tribute to the R&B and funk of yesteryear. Still, he accomplished the feat with ease. Along with emcee/vocalist Jerm, Helladope’s debut album offers a fresh take on the P-funk/G-funk rap amalgamation that originated in Southern California in the early 90’s. The sound is updated here with extraterrestrial gimmickry that amuses but isn’t essential to the album’s vibe.
5. J. Pinder – Code Red EP
This star-studded EP by Seattle ex-pat J. Pinder had a professional sheen equal to most major label releases. And it was free, to boot. Unsurprisingly, the folks who built the foundation of Code Red are either consummate hip-hop professionals or quickly on their way: Vitamin D, Jake One and Kuddie Fresh, among others. Pinder’s easy flow and accessible subject matter made this album easy to ride for.
4. Dark Time Sunshine – Vessel
Vessel exists in the same category as the number two album on this list, The Stimulus Package. The lyrical work is quintessential Onry Ozzborn (here reborn as Cape Cowen) but the production is a masterful concoction of headphone-oriented beats that only a cold soul from Chicago could assemble. Producer Zavala cultivates a terrain of rich electronica that feels organic, as if grown and harvested with the precision of robot farmers. The most sonically progressive SEA hip-hop album this side of Shabazz Palaces’ 2009 masterpiece.
3. Jake One & Freeway – The Stimulus Package
At first consideration it seemed strange to include this release featuring an emcee so deeply associated with the city of Philadelphia. Fifty percent of the album artist credit is from Seattle though so how could it be excluded? The obvious truth is Jake One had as much (if not more) to do with the quality of The Stimulus Package as Freeway. Jake has a knack for creating fresh ideas while staying inside the bounds of traditional boom-bap. Stimulus is his best and most cohesive collection of beats, ever.
2. Candidt – Sweatsuit & Churchshoes
Candidt’s long-delayed Sweatsuit & Churchshoes is a refreshing and dynamic package of West Coast B-boy rap. Every local young buck in the game should take this album as the new hip-hop gospel for the way it connects Old School and New. Candidt doesn’t sound like anyone else in the city and his willingness to experiment with new sounds while keeping strict West Coast principles earns SS&CS major props.
1. Def Dee & La (fka. Language Arts) – Gravity
Producer Def Dee caught lightning in a bottle with his masterful production work on this album. Gravity pays direct tribute to NYC Golden Era boom-bap and is unapologetic in its revivalist ideology. It also manages to sound fresh and timeless, however, and is the most musically cohesive album of these ten. Emcee La officially established himself as one of the best rappers in the city. He plays it cooler than on his proper solo debut, Roll With The Winners, but that’s because the music requires him to. Gravity stands firmly to the side of Seattle’s so-called “Third Wave hip-hop,” a position that’s especially important to the purist set. All the current innovation in local rap is a great thing, but so is the creation of more traditional forms like Gravity. It reminds everyone that hip-hop made in our isolated corner of the map is inextricably linked to the region of its genesis.
JFK loses the girl, but wins at life. Jake on the beat. Building Wings On The Way Down is the album.
Essential Seattle hip-hop, compiled by The Town’s essential producer, Jake One. The only thing missing is a Kevin Colabro “Good golly Miss Molly!” Click below for the download link, courtesy Puget Soundz blog.
I wouldn’t personally know, because I’ve never messed with producing beats as a profession, but I can imagine being a young dude with aspirations of becoming the next DJ Premier, Just Blaze, or Jake One requires many late hours in the lab and a whole lot of hustle.
For the first time ever, all sixteen finalists have come together to drop a compilation album, Suite Sixteen, featuring one track from each competitor. This is a great look for these new jacks and a shining example of how much talent remains relatively undiscovered. Cop it for FREE here, or click on the album cover below.