REVIEW: Balance – Romaro Franceswa

Romaro Franceswa - Balance

Federal Way rapper Romaro Franceswa and the indomitable producer BeanOne dropped a gem of an LP, track-by-track, over the course of November. Balance concluded its roll-out yesterday and can be streamed in its entirety below.

City Arts magazine liked the record so much they named it their Album of the Month for December, and yours truly wrote the review. Click here for the inside look or pick up a print copy of City Arts for free at locations throughout Seattle.

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AUDIO: Nightfall – Porter Ray

Porter Ray - Nightfall

Porter Ray - Nightfall

Sub Pop recording artist Porter Ray and his intrepid team are warming up for his “official” Sub Pop debut this summer. The six-song Nightfall EP is a primer, suitable for kicking it indoors and in rides as the darker winter days descend on the Six.

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AUDIO: Punch Drunk – Dave B

Dave B - Punch Drunk

Dave B — former EMP Sound Off! champ and one of the prime ringleaders of Seattle’s current rap youth wave — dropped his new album, Punch Drunk, last Friday. Dave is full of his typical sly swagger here, obsessed with love and lust — refreshingly — in equal parts, and recalling the few formative moments in his relatively young life. At first listen, Punch Drunk coasts easily on these beats, riding Dave’s effortless charms and neo-boom-bap production. But secondary and tertiary spins reveal an especially self-aware young man with low-key neuroses he’s more than happy to flesh out on wax, albeit with a lyrical deftness slick as rainwater.

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AUDIO: Gorilla Warfare – 10isee Williams

10isee Williams - Gorilla Warfare

Area rapper 10isee Williams collates an army of thoughts and wages war against the okey-doke on his new, excellent Gorilla Warfare. This is just the type of hip-hop music conservative talking heads would point to as “divisive” and “inflammatory” in nature. Williams dispenses with pleasantries, instead cutting immediately to the rote nature of hip-hop consumerism and the resultant blindness to the political line in the sand drawn by hip-hop so many decades ago. Some might call this an “us against them” stance. Williams would probably call it “the truth.”

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AUDIO: The First Ride – John Crown

John Crown - The First Ride

Tacoma’s John Crown is one of the best rappers from the South Sound, an MC with equal parts swagger and substance. The First Ride is the latest new music from him in a minute. It dropped earlier this month and 206UP is just now catching wind. You should too.

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AUDIO: “Seattle Sweeties” – Draze (prod. by Vitamin D)

Draze - Seattle Sweeties

Ah yes, the so-called hip-hop “female empowerment anthem:” Generally well-intentioned, but hardly ever well-executed. Seattle rap OG Draze falls into the same institutionalized pit of chauvinism that our favorite of-the-moment rappers like Drake happily occupy. “Seattle Sweeties” gets it wrong from the very start (see: song title), but has its heart in the right place (it’s a vehicle for raising funds for survivors of domestic violence).

Here’s the thing, fellas (and mind you this word to the wise is coming straight from the horse’s mouth: a heterosexual male who trades in misogyny by virtue of my very existence on planet earth): Women don’t need men to affirm their beauty and intelligence.

The best part of the current wave of feminism — at least as it’s manifesting itself in popular culture — is that it reinforces the notion that there is truly no wrong way to be feminine (see: Adele, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, Mindy Kaling, et al). Just as there’s no wrong way to be Black, Asian, Latino, gay, straight, or transgender.

The marginalized — and I’m counting myself and Draze among those — need allies in the fight against our oppressors.

Men: We need to stop projecting our values of worth (particularly as it pertains to physical beauty) onto the people we’ve traditionally held power over — that shit is tired and reductive. We need to start taking up arms alongside them. Teach your sons and daughters how to be feminists, not the bankrupt game of respectability politics.

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AUDIO: “Viam Lacteam” – Astro King Phoenix (prod. by Luna God)

Astro King Phoenix - Viam Lacteam

Astro King Phoenix and producer Luna God smoke galaxy-laced spliffs on their new track “Via Lacteam.” I’m not sure what that means either, but it’s worth a spin to try and find out. From the duo’s collaborative project Aurum Silentium.

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