THE SIX: Jarv Dee


Jarv Dee, chief operating officer of the Moor Gang — Seattle’s tight, eclectic and most talented lineup of rappers since the Mass Line collective — turns street-oriented party rap into a scathing critique of itself on his recent album, Satellites, Swishers & Spaceships. The dexterous MC directs technically proficient barbs against foes real and (sometimes) imagined, which allows for a more expansive listen than you might think upon first spin.

Jarv spent a few minutes with 206UP for this week’s entry of THE SIX. Read on below.

206UP: You open the record with an audio clip from an interview with Jordan Maxwell, a well-known conspiracy theorist and philosopher. How does the content of this clip inform the rest of the album and, ostensibly, your view of the world in general?

Jarv Dee: There are a lot of lies in the world and in rap music, and I felt that his particular clip touched on what’s happening in both those worlds. I feel like some up and coming rappers [and] aspiring artists feel you have to do certain things to be [successful]. The internet is a gift and a curse: a gift for rappers to be able to spread the word of their music without a record label’s help, and a curse by giving voices to those that are ignorant. The clip is pretty straight-forward and is definitely something I believe.

“Mind of the Masses” and the “Fox Urban” interlude seem to work hand-in-hand with each other: both describe cyclical modes of deception and thought, neither of which leave room for nuance or real hard truths to be uncovered. Do you think this type of thinking was at play when Northwest Folklife canceled the Moor’s show?

Due to last minute censorship and miscommunication, we as a collective decided to decline the invitation to participate in the Joke Life, I mean Folk Life, Festival.

Talk about the earliest days of the Moor Gang’s formation. When and why did you decide to form the collective?

Me & Nacho started as Bad Ass Yellow Boyz with Steezie NASA and felt like more heads were better than three. All the Moor Gang members were already around us so we decided to clique up and make moves together.

What would you consider your greatest musical success to be at this point in your life?

It’s just the simple fact that I’m even being heard and listened to. That’s success all in its own.

In your opinion, what are the best and worst things about summers in Seattle?

I’d say Seattle summers for me personally are a gift and a curse. It’s great and enjoyable, but it’s a bitch when I have to work in that hot ass sun!

What projects do you have in the works?

I have a few collaboration projects in the works right now, one with my bro Kris Kasanova from Brooklyn. We’ve been working on that for a while, but getting our schedules to align and finishing our own projects have gotten in the way. I also have a few possible projects with a few Moors and possibly a member of Kingdom Crumbs. You’ll just have to stay tuned to to find out more!

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THE SIX: Kublakai


Kublakai’s most recent musical offering Wheels Up was, in the rapper’s own words, an EP ten years in the making. It’s easily his most well-rounded album from a musical standpoint, succinctly covering the base of his musical affinities from jazz to hip-hop. Tracks like “Morning Light” and “Moan” interpolate Kubi’s practiced technical MC abilities with a great love for the music’s source material: big band instrumentation in the former track; the free form jazz associations of Charles Mingus in the latter.

Currently, Kublakai is in the midst of a seven month study abroad program through the University of Washington. 206UP caught up with him in South America — Chile to be exact — for this edition of THE SIX. Hit the jump to read more.

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THE SIX: Jake Crocker

Jake Crocker

206UP first met hip-hop producer Jake Crocker in February 2014 at a 300 Entertainment listening session for Raz Simone’s Cognitive Dissonance: Part 1. Jake was barely out of high school and about to embark on a bonafide real-world education with his close music partner, Raz. The classroom? The notoriously lecherous music industry.

By all accounts, Jake is an honor roll student, having survived a months-long tour in 2014 with Raz (whose team served as the opening act for Rittz’s OD Tour) and as an instrumental player in the roll-out to the hotly anticipated Cognitive Dissonance: Part 2, set to drop online for free tomorrow (Wednesday, 1/28). Jake again plays an integral part in the production of the new album, his dramatic musical backdrops lending emotional heft so vital to Raz’s confessional style.

Focused, dedicated and refreshingly earnest, Jake Crocker hopped on 206UP’s THE SIX to provide insight into his new life as a working creative.

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THE SIX: The Good Sin

the good sin

THE SIX is a regular Q&A feature on 206UP with a simple format: One member of the local hip-hop community and six questions. For past editions click here.

Seattle rapper The Good Sin had a worthy showing in 2014 with the release of his third full-length album entitled Life Before. We called it one of the ten best Seattle hip-hop albums of the year for its great attention to soulful detail and emotionally insightful lyrics. Life Before felt, appropriately, lived in.

That characteristic has much to do with the MC’s ethos of quality over quantity — an increasingly rare creative approach to music these days — and a willingness to open himself up to experiences outside of the norm, both physically (he relocated from Seattle to New York City in late 2013) and internally (the album was meant to be illustrative of the MC’s emotional growth over the years).

206UP caught up with The Good Sin in our latest edition of THE SIX. Hit the jump to read on.

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THE SIX: Shelton Harris

Photo: Kevin Lowdon

Photo: Kevin Lowdon

THE SIX is a regular Q&A feature on 206UP with a simple format: One member of the local hip-hop community and six questions. For past editions click here.

Rapper Shelton Harris and his production partner Tyler Dopps made names for themselves on the strength of their 2013 five song EP The Fresh Start, a collection of glimmering, accomplished pop-rap anthems that belied the young ages of its creators. Dopps has a knack for looping addictive melodies over clean boom-bap and Harris is an efficient MC who rarely wastes a word, making beelines to raps-about-raps and the subject of being young and hungry while trying to come up in “the game.”

Their full-length debut album Lights — originally due last summer — is seeing its finishing touches added while a young and eager Seattle fan base, weaned on Macklemore and little else, awaits. Shelton and Tyler seem to be carrying the proverbial banner for a new local wave of positive, self-reflective hip-hop borne from the confessionals of Aubrey Drake Graham and the all-inclusiveness of Ben Haggerty.

Shelton’s popularity is an exciting new development that runs counter to the early aught backpack leanings of Seattle hip-hop artists (now entering their mid-30s and beyond) who helped nurture a devoted underground following. Shelton’s brand is also an alternative to the cloaked, substance-driven art-rap of movements like Thraxxhouse and Underworld Dust Funk, crews of a similar generation but whose points-of-view reflect a sort of updated streetwise version of Seattle’s grunge ethos of the early ’90s.

All of this adds up to a more balanced range of hip-hop in Seattle, a sign that the local scene is becoming even more of a microcosmic version of the greater hip-hop landscape in general — it takes all types, we say. Shelton Harris took time to hop on this week’s edition of THE SIX. Hit the jump for more.

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THE SIX: Araless

Photo courtesy of the artist.

Photo courtesy of the artist.

THE SIX is a regular Q&A feature on 206UP with a simple format: One member of the local hip-hop community and six questions. For past editions click here.

Araless and his Black Magic Noize collective fly relatively under the radar in the Town. That might change however with the release of the rapper’s new album Symbiosis, a salute to hip-hop’s traditionalist value system of straight-forward beats and rhymes. That type of descriptor can often be a death knell for an MC who’s not up to the task of waving the heavy Golden Era revivalist flag, but this MC — and this crew — lean head-on into the challenge. Ara and BMN are responsible for the monthly hip-hop showcase and cypher Spitfire Saturdays at Dante’s in the U-District. BMN’s de facto team leader hopped on the latest edition of The Six to discuss his hustle and flow.

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THE SIX: Spekulation


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.

Spekulation has gone viral twice and he’s only getting sicker.

Even before the internet meme fiascos wrought by last February’s Bitter Barista episode and, most recently, the Marshawn Lynch-worshipping turned Seahawks rallying cry, “Bout That Action”, the combo rapper/producer/writer had been carrying a following in the local music scene. That was thanks to his detailed, well-honed projects like 2011’s Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em, a remixed collection of Jay Z songs using samples from local jazz outfit The Jason Parker Quartet, and Spekulation, the ambitious 2012 self-titled, self-produced EP that mixed a classic boom-bap aesthetic with live instrumentation.

Spekulation is here (in the nebulous internet-alized sense of “here”) because of two larks that blew up on the strength of… Well, it’s still not totally clear, I suppose. But he’s also here because of a very obvious love and intense dedication to the craft of hip hop music. For better or worse, Spek will forever be associated with Bitter Barista and “Bout That Action”. Similarly, though, there would be no Harrison Ford without Han Solo, no Macklemore (in his current incarnation anyway) without “Thrift Shop”, and certainly no reprieve for bitter baristas the world over without asshole customers to inspire edifying snark. Spek hopped on this week’s edition of THE SIX to let us in on how he does it.

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THE SIX: Featuring Malice & Mario Sweet

Photo courtesy of the artists' Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of the artists’ Facebook page.

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.

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THE SIX: Featuring Harry Clean of Detooz Films

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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.

If you watch Seattle hip hop music videos with any regularity, then you already know Harry Clean’s work, even if you don’t really know Harry Clean’s work. That telltale piercing sound of glass shattering into a million high-definition shards adorns the intro to dozens of music videos branded with the Detooz Films logo, Harry’s production company.

Dude first hit the 206UP inbox in late 2010, eager as all hell to get his burgeoning collection of video interviews up on our humble outlet. Since then, his eye for sharp angles and smart concepts have blessed the videos for virtually every major name in Town rap. Harry is one of a few talented and innovative videographers lending their creative energies to Seattle hip hop — Zia Mohajerjasbi, Stephan Gray and Ryan Hills are a few others — but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone more prolific.

Thanks to Harry Clean for taking some time out to answer THE SIX.

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THE SIX: Porter Ray

Porter Ray

[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.]

Porter Ray is shining on the strength of three stellar albums. His BLK GLD LP dropped mid-May and was followed by two EPs, WHT GLD and RSE GLD, in October. In partnership, they are the most exciting hip hop to originate from the Town this calendar year, and will undoubtedly find slots on all of the self-important blog year-end lists that populate the local internet from now until the annual turn. (And of course keep your browser tab tuned right here for just such an entry.)

Accolades are immaterial except for the most narcissistic among us, and Porter Ray is not Seattle’s answer to Kanye West. His raps are observational in tone, a little like Kendrick’s and a lot like Nasir’s. When he does stop to honor himself, it usually feels in passing, like his hustle is already rap’s oldest certainty and listeners should know this because they probably read about him in an ancient book — or blog — somewhere. In this way he reminds you of Shabazz Palaces: A brief flicker of genius that sparks up from the communal rap flame burning in perpetuity.

All this to say: Porter Ray’s shit is the new, but it already feels like a fable, son.

206UP: Local media and rap heads around the Town have been quick to place you in that ambiguous “alternative / indie hip hop” category. Does the segmenting of rappers into different sub-genres offend you, or do you welcome it?

Porter Ray: I welcome it. There are different styles of rap music, just as there are sub-genres of rock. We have classic rock, heavy metal, acid, punk, etc… The same principals apply to hip hop.

What’s your earliest Seattle hip hop memory?

Watching Sir Mix-A-Lot’s limo drive past 23rd and Jackson in the video for “Posse On Broadway”. The video for “Baby Got Back” was another one of my first memories of Seattle hip hop as well.

There seems to be a transition in sound from the BLK GLD album to the RSE GLD/WHT GLD EPs: Softer beats on BLK GLD to a bit harder on RSE/WHT. Was this a conscious decision or did it just come about organically?

The transition of sound from BLK GLD to RSE and WHT was definitely a conscious decision we made to try and elevate the music. At the same time, it is something that happened organically being that all of those albums were recorded in the same stretch of time. The music that we were creating, naturally developed into different sounds and vibes as we progressed as artists and began to find ourselves. We’re stepping it up another notch for my next project.

Describe a typical day in the life of Porter Ray these days.

A typical day for me consists of writing, recording, rehearsing and strategizing. I spend a lot of time searching for things to keep me inspired and fuel my creativity, whether its reading, searching for new music, or watching a film. In between all of this I usually have my son Aaron during the late afternoons and evenings. I’ll play him beats and rap to him, or we’ll hit the park and I’ll draw while he plays. After I drop off my seed [with] his mom I’ll link up with MFB or B Roc and hit the studio.

Your rhymes have a strong philosophical and observational quality to them. Would you describe yourself as more of a “watcher” or a “participator”, and why?

Both. I consider myself more of the “observer” as an emcee, however I feel that I’m the “observer” that somehow always ends up participating by proxy.

What’s the last great book you read?

The Egyptian Philosophers: Ancient African Voices From Imhotep to Akhenaten written by Molefi Kete Asante.

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