NEW MUSIC: Winter & The Wolves – Grieves

Grieves - Winter & The Wolves

Grieves has carried a fervent fan base now over the course of four strong albums. Tepid tastemaker reviews aside, I don’t think there’s any doubt that his new LP, Winter & The Wolves, will be received with anything but rabid support by those who consistently ride for him. 206UP has always appreciated Grieves’ skill and purported love for the art of hip hop music, but often times his self-confessional style makes for laborious listening. Unfortunately, W&TW is probably the heaviest of all his albums, likely by design. Thank goodness Spring feels just around the corner, I suppose.


VIDEO: “Shreds” – Grieves (dir. by Matt Hobbs for Vital Films)

Grieves gets his Jack London on in his new video for “Shreds”, the first single from the rapper’s upcoming Winter & The Wolves due March 25. Pre-order that shit here and get some exclusive swag with your advance commitment.


NEW MUSIC: “Shreds” – Grieves (prod. by B. Lewis)


Rhymesayers artist and current Seattle resident Grieves dropped a new single (“Shreds”) and announced Winter & The Wolves — his new album, due March 25 — is now available for pre-order at various online outlets. “Shreds” is an electro-tinged boom-bap effort, produced by B. Lewis. Grieves makes allusions to those who might do him wrong. Does he mean heads of religious institutions? Record labels? The amorphous and always disdainful “hater”? Who can be certain?

(h/t Potholes In My Blog.)


NEW MUSIC: Left In The Deck – Brother Ali (prod. by Jake One)

H/T to Ego Trip for this one. Brother Ali hits us with a 10-track collection of outtakes, playable as a “cassette tape”, and produced entirely by Jake One. “The beats are grimy and I feel like this is some of the best rhyming I’ve ever captured on tape. I want to release this directly to you,” said the Rhymesayers MVP.

Happy weekend, family.


VIDEO: “On The Rocks” – Grieves & Budo

Together/Apart is the official Rhymesayers debut album from Grieves & Budo and it dropped this past Tuesday. It’s the best work yet from this duo who (I hear) are back living in The Six. Actually, I spotted Budo roaming the sidewalks of Capitol Hill just before last Saturday’s Blue Scholars concert at Neumos — I sometimes forget how small this Town is. Peep the video for “On The Rocks” off Together/Apart, above.


VIDEO: “Bloody Poetry” – Grieves & Budo

It’s fresh to see two cats with strong ties to Seattle blow up something major the way Grieves and Budo are doing. Inking a deal with the best known independent hip-hop label in the country (Rhymesayers) will do that for you. The duo’s next full-length offering is titled Together/Apart and will hit the paved and dirt roads of all this land’s hamlets on June 21.

Click here to continue reading at SSG Music.

SSG Music Cross-Post Video

VIDEO: “Keep Bouncing” – Blueprint

Posted here because I do what I want. Who cares if it ain’t Town rap? And also ’cause the bar in this clip reminds me of the one I was stumbling around in in Brooklyn this weekend. Blueprint is that dude. Adventures in Counter-Culture coming April 5th on Rhymesay…ah, f-ck it, you know who it is.


SHOW: Rhymesayers Presents Soundset 2010

Fact: The mainstream continuously fails true hip-hop heads. It’s a body of water we’d rather not swim in, thank you very much. Mainstream hip-hop is full of disposable product and tepid pools of radio waste that doesn’t biodegrade, but just sits there festering, growing mold until the original fundamental organism no longer exists. Hip-hop in this form is unrecognizable. The mainstream is why your parents hate rap music.

(Click here to continue reading at Seattle Show Gal…)

Live Coverage

REVIEW: The Stimulus Package (Freeway & Jake One)

(Note: This review also appears on the national online hip-hop site Above Ground Magazine.)

For better or worse, Freeway possess one of the most recognizable and unique voices in hip-hop. As a result, he’s a bit of an acquired taste. Jake One the producer, on the other hand, is a 21st century version of DJ Premier. He uses appropriately melodic soul samples, dusty beats, and well-placed scratches to create a reliable and familiar dose of straight-forward hip-hop.

So while it’s possible the listener might have a more rewarding experience if Jake’s beats were blessed by a more, how-would-you-say, “accessible” emcee than Philly Freezer, it doesn’t change the fact that with their combined powers the two have crafted the best hip-hop album of 2010, thus far.

On one hand, it’s not out of bounds to say Freeway is generally under-appreciated as a rapper. On the other, you can say he’s gotten his just due. Point of reference is important here, too. From a philosophical standpoint, he’s one of those dudes that sort-of bridges the gap between backpackers and radio. Generally known and respected by true heads, Freeway is still only peripherally known by Clear Channel-ers, which is fine. Being a made hip-hop man (of which he is one), does not depend on your ability to please fans of both Brother Ali and Gucci Mane.

It does, however, depend on being reliable and consistent and Freeway has played his hand in the hip-hop game well. Decidedly street, his ability to be both an ambivalent and empathetic witness to the ethical dilemmas faced by fellow hustlers is one of his greatest strengths. On “The Product”, he paints a bleak picture of the role narcotics play in many aspects of American life, neither celebrating the drug lifestyle nor outright dismissing it as something altogether heinous. After all, if it’s a means to put food on the table when all else has failed, what can you ultimately say? Freeway admittedly keeps “One Foot In” the rap game and one foot in the street. This delicate balancing act allows him to maintain a level of authenticity that other rappers have lost.

Jake One, the other half of The Stimulus Package, has become a figurehead in Seattle hip-hop. He probably has the most national influence of any member of the local rap community but his voice is never actually heard. Jake speaks clearly and authoritatively through his beats. He’s an expert at taking a delicate soul sample and layering it over a well-crafted drum pattern such that the essence of the original music partially dissolves and reforms into something entirely new and exciting. His production is rarely flashy or ground-breaking — it’s just solid and consistent.

Jake is in high industry demand these days, and one of the reasons might be because his sound doesn’t seem to belong to any particular coast or region. You can hear obvious Dr. Dre-style Cali influences in the flourishes on tracks like “The Product” and “One Thing”, yet he also shows he can do Dirty South capably too on “Follow My Moves” and “Sho’ Nuff”. Jake One is a true student of hip-hop production; any rapper would be lucky to have him bless an entire album with his beats.

It’s refreshing to see a prominent hip-hop release with the ability to pay equal tribute to rapper and producer as Rhymesayers has done with The Stimulus Package. One DJ and one emcee was once the established symbiosis in hip-hop, but that has gone by the wayside for the most part. The schizophrenia caused by multiple rapper-producer collaborations has much to do with the inconsistent level of quality that plagues most albums. If more well-known rappers like Freeway would stick to the one DJ/one emcee ethic (the way our humble Town so frequently does), we’d see more LPs match the level of quality of The Stimulus Package.

Album Reviews