DOWNLOAD: “Suite Sixteen” (2009 Red Bull Big Tune Finalists)

I wouldn’t personally know, because I’ve never messed with producing beats as a profession, but I can imagine being a young dude with aspirations of becoming the next DJ Premier, Just Blaze, or Jake One requires many late hours in the lab and a whole lot of hustle.

The 2009 edition of the Red Bull Big Tune featured sixteen finalists with such virtues, including two local cats, KD Cutz and Marcus D, who fully represented The Town at the Finals in Atlanta.

For the first time ever, all sixteen finalists have come together to drop a compilation album, Suite Sixteen, featuring one track from each competitor. This is a great look for these new jacks and a shining example of how much talent remains relatively undiscovered. Cop it for FREE here, or click on the album cover below.


Big Tune Gives You Wings

big_tune_seattleThe annual Red Bull Big Tune beat battle is happening at the War Room this Friday (8/31).

For those not in the know, this competition is an opportunity for local hip-hop producers to show off their banging-est sh*t in head-to-head competitions, a format somewhat resembling Jamaican dubplate battles. The producers are pitted against each other March Madness bracket-style and the winner is determined by audience reaction.

Last year, Brainstorm won the local competition and went on to compete nationally in New York City. In ’07, Sabzi took the local crown. It’s fun to watch not just because the producers, in an effort to win over the crowd, totally act the fool onstage, but also because it’s a little mini-preview of beats that you might hear on record later. Go check it out and root for this guy (I’m biased, and I don’t care).

Live Coverage

Hip-Hop hits the ‘Shoot (Again)

Bumbershoot-2009-wideIt is with great regret that I inform you (friends, strangers, fam-damily) that I will be unable to attend this year’s edition of the Bumbershoot music festival. My presence is required out of town. (I’ll be in the Big Apple, hopefully catching Mos Def on 9/12 at Governor’s Island — gotta get those tickets now while they’re still available!)

It’s a damn shame, too, because it’s another great year for hip-hop at the ‘Shoot. I was just checking out the lineup and lamenting the fact that I’m gonna miss it. Anyway, here’s a brief summary of the hip-hop performances that I won’t be catching this year, along with a few of my thoughts on the matter…

Dyno Jamz (Sat, 12:30 pm, EMP Sky Church) – Uhh, I have no idea who they are. An “eight-man hip-hop ensemble?” Winner of the “EMP Sound Off! battle of the bands competition”? Guess I need to do some homework. I do know one thing, however…they have a really wack sounding name.

Wale (Sat, 5:45 pm, Fisher Green Stage) – It’s everyone’s new favorite emcee! You can’t miss Wale, yo! I have his mixtapes in constant rotation on my iPod. Lyrically, he’s incomparable, but the honest truth is that his flow is only so-so. Doesn’t really matter, though, he shows more personality in half a verse than most rappers do on their entire albums. Plus his production is always top-notch.

De La Soul (Sat, 9:30 pm, Fisher Green Stage) – One of my top three favorite groups of all-time. What else can I say? You claim to love hip-hop? Then loving De La with all your mind, body, and soul is a requirement. Miss this show and you’re fakin’ it.

Dyme Def (Sun, 2:15 pm, Fisher Green Stage) – Got mad love for these local rap heroes. I could see these dudes blowing up nationally at some point. Brainstorm competed in the nationals at the Red Bull Big Tune beat battle last year. Their full-length debut, Space Music, was a break-through for Seattle hip-hop in that it was maybe the first legitimate mainstream-flavored (read: “commercial”) album to ever come out of our fair city.

Swollen Members (Sun, 5:00 pm, Rockstar Stage) – I heard they got hip-hop in Canada, too. This duo hails from our northerly neighbour, British Columbia. Other than that, I don’t know much about ’em. I do remember the joint, “Breathe,” they did with Nelly Furtado (also Canadian), which got my ass moving once or twice. When they perform live, do they do it in a theatre? (Canada jokes are funny, eh?)

Common Market (Sun, 5:45 pm, Fisher Green Stage) – You’ll see a lot of love for CM on this blog. RA Scion and DJ Sabzi are helping set the standard for Seattle hip-hop. Complex rhymes meet beautiful boom-bap. RA’s great on-stage, as well.

D. Black and Spaceman (Sun, 8:00 pm, EMP Sky Church) – D. Black is Seattle’s version of Biggie Smalls, natural and engaging on the mic; a true diamond from the South End. Spaceman is the eccentric court jester of Sportn’ Life. Together on stage they’re sure to get your hands up like the SPD. (Can’t wait for Black’s sophomore full-length, Ali’Yah, dropping 9.15.09. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of Spaceman.)

Macklemore (Mon, 12:30 pm, Fisher Green Stage) – Like Grynch, this cat’s an unlikely beast on the mic. I was definitely sleeping on Macklemore until I spent some honest time listening to The Language of My World. Conscious, introspective, and funny, the album’s a sly charmer. I’ve never seen him live. Next time, I guess.

The Knux (Mon, 1:30 pm, Samsung Mobile Mainstage) – I bought The Knux’s album, Remind Me in 3 Days, based solely on a glowing Rolling Stone review. I was a little disappointed because they spend too much time in rock/dance/techno territory for my taste. The track “FIRE (Put it in the Air),” was one of my favorite songs from ’08, though. I bet this crew is dope live.

The Black Eyed Peas (Mon, 3:00 pm, Samsung Mobile Mainstage) – Ugh. Yuck. Blecchh. Avoid at all costs! I wish the three original members of the crew would hop in the DeLorean and go back to 1998. Their debut, Behind the Front, was legitimate hip-hop. After they added Fergie and annoying pop sensibilities in 2003, it was “goodbye” backpackers and “hello” sell-out city. How disappointing.

Champagne Champagne (Mon, 4:45 pm, EMP Sky Church) – I’ve been meaning to check out their full-length debut, but can’t bring myself to spend the $10 on what might amount to mostly just a bunch of glamour-hop flash geared toward the hipster set. Emcee Pearl Dragon is an underground favorite of mine. I think Pearl’s powers as a solo emcee would reflect more of a pure hip-hop spirit, but who am I to criticize his endeavors as part of this collective? In any case, I’ve heard their live set kicks major skinny-jeaned ass!

I guess that about covers it. Bumbershoot is still over a month away, so you’ve got plenty of time to learn all the lyrics before you go. If you see, please tell him that I’m very disappointed in the direction he’s taken the group. (I’m sure he’ll appreciate the constructive criticism.)


Live Coverage Views From the Peanut Gallery

Sweet As Choklate

I know this blog is supposed to be dedicated to Seattle-area hip-hop only, but excuse me while I digress for just a moment…

Mary J. may have the national title “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul” on lock, but Seattle’s got its very own local hip-hop soul queen and she goes by the name of Choklate. Her latest album To Whom it May Concern is simply astounding! (No need for hyperbole here either, folks. Just listen and you’ll agree.)

Anyway, she’s doing big things as evidenced by this free download. It’s a track called “Film,” produced by 2008 Red Bull Big Tune champ C-Sick. It features Nas on the vocals and none other than Miss Choklate on the chorus. Bump this!

More Choklate…

At Jazz Alley.

“Sun’s Out/Grown Folks” video.

Chok’s talented nephew, KD Cutz, chops up “Sun’s Out” and slaps us across the face with it!

Video Views From the Peanut Gallery