Hollow Earth Radio: Magma Fest, feat. Porter Ray, Astro King Phoenix, OCnotes, and JusMoni | Hollow Earth Radio Studios | Friday, February 13, 2015
Words by Emery Desper. Photography by JK Scroggins.
On Friday night at Hollow Earth Radio a bunch of Seattle rap’s usual suspects tightly packed themselves in the station’s Central District studio to raise money for a move to the FM airwaves. It felt like a family reunion in your Grandma’s basement with everyone in such close quarters. There is something to be said about radio, especially as far as rap music is concerned, because I still remember how crucial it was to sit by and wait for a song I needed to complete a mixtape — made with an actual cassette tape, that is — praying I could catch the whole song.
Radio is important for many reasons, but especially this kind of radio station which plays local talent and where all the DJs have free reign to spin what they like. And it can’t be overlooked how important it is for Hollow Earth Radio to be located in the CD, giving major spins to Black artists in the midst of the ‘hood’s uber-heartbreaking gentrification. Having a hip-hop home base in the ‘hood is crucial for the greater good of Seattle music.
Having just come off a glowing review and interview in The Stranger, OCnotes opened up the night with what I will shamelessly describe as “magic.” If you’ve never attended service at a Black church, but still feel the need for Jesus, you should make OCnotes your pastor. What he can do with beatmaking, live instrumentation and his voice, is otherworldly. My sister and I danced to every spin right up in front of the performance area, and pretended like we were catching the holy ghost throughout the entire set.
Likewise, what a treat it was to see Astro King Phoenix for the first time. He is the way, the truth and the light, for real. I had heard things here and there about this MC but it was really an experience to get ten songs from him live and up close. Astro is nice with the mic and the energy in his music is major. His punchline game is strong, but he gets the most props for not letting some random attendant, who began throwing up on the floor in the middle of his set, stop the show. Astro even worked in a joke with his aptly titled crowd favorite, “Let It Go.” If you’re not familiar with this artist, get hip via his SoundCloud page.
Seattle’s currently crowned prince of rap Porter Ray was the headliner of the event and, with no diss to P, because we all know he is great, I’m not going to say much about his performance other than that it was fantastic as usual. People were clamoring to see the kid who, as always, was well dressed, looking dapper and with that uncanny ability to light up the room.
Shout-out to the other dread gang homie in the building, Nate Jack. It was fun to see Porter give stage time to his frequent collaborator who got to shine for a round of bars. Nate has one of the best sounding voices in Seattle rap; he’s smooth, and tall, dark and handsome, but most of all he’s fun to listen to. Nate’s major talent lies in his ability to articulate a particular feeling and make the whole crowd wish they could sound like him.
JusMoni, who displayed her well-known and frequently-lauded vocals for a full set on the R&B tip, deserves an honorable mention for being the lady that easily hung with the boys, making some great appearances on various tracks. Her performance was heartfelt and highlighted how versatile her voice is.
Another highlight of the evening was just being reminded of how substantive hip-hop in the Town is these days. Because the show was a part of Hollow Earth Radio’s month-long Magma Fest series, it was a celebration of the new wave of Seattle rap darlings, and also of other people belonging to the movement and who keep it interesting: During Astro’s set, and for the remainder of the night, the crowd was also treated to a live painting exhibition by Wolf Delux (aka. Malcolm Procter). The combo of visual art and rap have always gone hand in hand.
Everything was top-notch that night: The performers, the artists, and even the crowd was looking good and having a delightful time. Hopefully you were there to drop some money in the bucket for the Hollow Earth Radio movement, but if not do it now.
Emery Desper is a Seattle-based writer and regular contributor to 206UP. She Eats Books For Breakfast.
JK Scroggins is a Seattle-based photographer. View his online portfolio here.