What’s good, Bay Area family? You’re probably already up on this, but coming up on Monday, September 1st is the region’s annual Hiero Day, featuring an outstanding lineup of hip-hop including (but not limited to) Seattle’s own Sol and The Bar (well, half of The Bar, anyway). Best of all, it’s FREE! #KeepHieroDayFree
We don’t post a lot about shows here at 206UP, but I thought this warranted a special mention: Blue Scholars will be headlining a skate and BMX event sponsored by the Tacoma-based ramp surface company Skatelite. The engagement is called The Retreat and it’s going down this Saturday, August 17, on idyllic Lopez Island (of the famed San Juan Islands in the very upper upper left corner of the map).
The Retreat is being billed as a relaxing getaway; an opportunity to hang out, eat food, drink beer, and chill with Seattle’s favorite hip hop duo and a grip of the world’s top skate and BMX athletes. For real, though, I’m not even into “action sports” and I recognize some of these names: Mat Hoffman, Bob Burnquist, Bucky Lasek, etc. Go here for more information and to book your transportation.
So why the special post, you ask? It’s because I grew up on Lopez Island, and, while vacationers have always considered the place a bastion of natural beauty and guaranteed respite from the hustle and bustle of urban life, how do I put this delicately?… Shit didn’t ever happen there, n’ah mean? So this is kind of a big deal.
Anyway, make your way to Lopez if you have the time and means. Take your bicycle; make sure to stop in at Holly B’s Bakery in The Village; drop a couple bills at The Bay Cafe for dinner; and please respect and enjoy the hell out of the place. Also, if you see my mom, tell her I’ll call her this weekend. One.
See, there are good reasons to treck to Williamsburg, Brooklyn on a Wednesday night! Music out of the 206 invades New York City for the next two evenings as electro/dance outfit The Flavr Blue (Hollis, Parker and Lace Cadence) play their first show in the Apple tonight at Cameo Gallery in post-hipsterville Williamsburg. Joining them are budding R&B singer Alisha Roney (who you will recognize from her two stellar turns on The Good Sin’s The Story of Love x Hate), singer Avery Storm, and Blue Scholars DJ/producer Sabzi. Sample a few tracks from TFB’s debut album Pisces, below.
And speaking of Blue Scholars…The currently touring duo will rock Bowery Ballroom for the
second third year in a row tomorrow tonight with The Physics and Brothers From Another on deck as support. Grab tickets here or meet me outside for a falafel on the Bowery tomorrow before the show!
Alright, welcome me back from my week-long vacation out West. The irony of me traveling to Seattle (from my now more-than-temporary home of New York City) is that I don’t actually get any blogging done when I’m out there. Too busy drinking coffee, eating the best sandwich in the country, and splattering pho broth all over my shirt front.
Oh yeah, I’m also busy talking my way into sold-out Blue Scholars shows (thanks, Hollis!) whilst trying to avoid every drop of torrential rainfall the Pacific Northwest has to offer. (The U-Dub stadium parking lot was a river on Friday night. Sheets of water, I’m telling you!)
Anyway, BS kicked off their #TownAllDay Tour jaunt around the country on Friday with a sold-out performance at the Showbox Market. Geo and Sabzi have tightened up their live set (as if that were even possible) by interspersing a totally engaging series of video shorts throughout their rap songs. If you’re lucky enough to live in one of the cities on the tour docket and have tickets, you’ll see what I mean.
The vignettes act as a narrative stitching the hyper-local focus of Blue Scholars together. It’s fun playing guess-the-Seattle-sights while watching the clips, but perhaps more importantly the sequences serve to eliminate that bit of regular hip-hop show fatigue — you know the one that starts settling in right around the 45 minute mark.
On Friday the group also debuted a new song, “The Decisive Moment,” which finds Geo getting back to MC basics. There’s no hook here and just enough of a groove by Sabzi to help impart the autobiographical, self-revelatory sentiments of one of the Town’s most beloved artists.
Also fresh: the video for “Anna Karina” (directed by Matt Jay) which has an interesting origin story and subtle provocativeness that speaks volumes without being bombastic. Blue Scholars continue to age like a fine wine.
Blue Scholars’ new video for “Slick Watts” is a pantheon of northwest hip-hop cameos — the food and Townfolk variety. Jordan Nicholson helmed the high-def for this one. Chances are good you’ve seen dude’s lens work on other local music sites. I implore you to Google further.
Hopefully by now you’ve seen Pro Brown’s spoken word commentary in the Seattle Times on the recent (and not so recent) gun violence plaguing Seattle.
It’s unsettling to see how regional (cough! *socioeconomic* cough! cough! *racial*) delineations in the city contribute to the imbalance in news coverage of identical acts of violence. But I don’t have to tell you that ’cause you already know, right? RIGHT? Here’s Geo acting as the much-needed voice of reason over a Sabzi beat you might find familiar. And if you have an extra moment in your day, make sure to check the Comments section of the Times piece. Some of the shit on there is abhorrent. These are our neighbors, fam. SMH.
Two new beat tapes from Blue Scholars’ producer/DJ, Sabzi. The first is Yesler, a 20-track collection of instrumentals designed “to accompany your reflecting and daydreaming in the car, collegiate studying, or hours spent on graphic design work.” (Saba’s words.)
And the second is Cine Riddims, the now-familiar instrumentals to Blue Scholars’ 2011 album, Cinemetropolis. Put your own raps over Sabzi’s slaps and embarrass your friends and family today!
The demographics of Brooklyn may be changing (sections of Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy barely resemble the ‘hoods of even five years ago when I first relocated out here from Seattle), but the hip-hop mind-state stays rooted in the Golden Era of bygone days. If it were up to geezers like me, everything rap would sound like the dusty hardcore of Black Moon’s Enta Da Stage.
Alas, time pushes forward like a Q45 Infinit on the BQE, so my brethren and I are relegated to beating young ‘uns over their heads (figuratively, of course) with the cracked jewel cases of seminal crews like Smif-N-Wessun, Heltah Skeltah, and OGC, groups who composed the larger Boot Camp Clik collective and who recorded on the still-in-effect Duck Down Records. (For one degree of Seatown separation, see: Blue Scholars’ OOF! EP.)
Reminisce over shit like Smif-N-Wessun’s “Bucktown” tonight at The Crocodile ON US! 206UP.COM has one pair of tickets to give away to a lucky reader. To enter, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org OR a Tweet to @206upBlog, with the phrase “Who got da props?!” in the subject line. We’ll draw one lucky name at random for the show.