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.