A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Tropic of Cancer

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Cancer Rising

After experiencing their first two albums, you might have begun to get comfortable in the familiarity of what Cancer Rising was all about. The group’s third, self-titled album is like having the rug pulled out from under you when you least expect it. The group introduced DJ Bles One as a production/lyrical force, and in doing so effectively nullified Cancer Rising’s previous identity, while simultaneously synthesizing an entirely new sound. On track two, “Watch Your Step,” and track three, “Let’s Start Some Shit,” Bles (as Bruce Illest) brought all of the purposefully offensive, bizarre energy that made his sought-after mixtapes so innovative and fun. The original CR sound survived intact on cuts like “Perseverance,” “We Gonna Make It,” and “Truckin,” but those three songs are tucked away at the end of the album, and they sound quaint and proper next to the rest of the album’s bacchanalia. The chemistry of Cancer Rising interacting with Bles One is successful because Bles took the existing meld of influences and put it on hyperdrive. “Evryday Bidness” is perhaps the most perfect distillation of this crazy new mixture, and it combines that CR soul with the drunken-chameleon production style of Bles One. Cancer Rising would be the third and final album from this celebrated Seattle hip hop group, but the friendships created here continued in the saga of They Live, Mash Hall, and later, town legends Don’t Talk To The Cops. (Written by Novocaine132.)

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Search For The Cure

The Stranger picked Search For The Cure as one of the “6 Best Hip-Hop Albums of 2005” saying:

Cancer Rising’s Search for the Cure represents a clear break from Seattle’s hip-hop continuum. Grayskul can be traced all the way back to the mid-’90s, to the political gloom of Black Anger; Boom Bap Project can be traced back to Source of Labor; Framework can be traced back to Kid Sensation (and also Criminal Nation). No such link exists for the rappers Judas, Gatsby (AKA Larry Mizell Jr.), and DJ Tiles One, who make up Cancer Rising. A big reason for this is the music itself, which was produced by Manat MacLeod and Matt Wong, the Defkidz.

“When we started,” explains MacLeod, “we thought it would be quick and simple, but then it got more creative. I would come up with crazy stuff and [the rappers] would match it. I had the green light to do whatever I wanted. And the reason why the record sounds unusual is that I don’t listen to hip-hop anymore. I love hip-hop. I love the Def Jux stuff and the Roots, but the music is not adventurous. What I’m listening to is the Flaming Lips, stuff like the Secret Machines, and I took that to the music side, where I was coming up with beats.” The rock element in Search for the Cure is strong but not enough to make it a rock record; it’s still solid hip-hop. And hip-hop has always taken large chunks from rock, reggae, classical music—anything that worked with what Q-Tip famously called “that old boom bap.”

“Local producers like Vitamin D and Jake One are my favorites,” MacLeod explains, “but I decided to pay my respects to them by doing something totally different.”

Here’s another take:

Search For The Cure is the second album from Cancer Rising, and it picks up where their debut album, Sippin’ Music left off two years earlier. The group gives you more of that raw NW hip hop, and at the same time unabashedly continues its explorations into rock and roll. “Pocket Check” and “Run” are two high-energy examples of their signature sound, exploding with power moments and pure fun. Judas and Gatsby both reveal very personal self-observations in slower tracks like “Mama’s Ashes,” “Time And Place,” and the album’s title track, with emotional confessions and therapeutic breakthroughs happening right in front of us. “Play It Again” and “Dedicated” each has a carefree, effortless quality with a sprinkle of summertime and rap block-party nostalgia. The album’s finest moments come courtesy of “Stand Up” and the sleeper hit, “Scenery.” “Stand Up” bounces with peppy keys and horns, punctuated by the intelligent wordplay of these two talented emcees. “Scenery” could easily be one of the top hip-hop/rap tracks to ever come from Seattle. It’s the definition of feel-good music, a warm glow that you can feel in your soul. Search For The Cure is fully grown-up and Cancer Rising deserved all the praise they received for this now-classic album. (Written by Novocaine132.)

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Sippin' Music

Cancer Rising is two MC’s—Gatsby and Judas—and one DJ, Tiles One. Sippin’ Music is the group’s first album, and it is a strong effort with incredible range. The songs range from rowdy uptempo party jams like “Stop, Drop, Roll” and “Serious as…” to slower, more pensive tracks like “Fly Away” and “Who Woulda Thought.” Album highlights include “Sleight Of Hand,” which tackles the subject of political and military corruption, and the punchline-heavy head-nodder “Get A Hit.” The hidden masterpiece here is “IAM (Impressions And Memories),” with a beat that evokes the genius of J-Dilla, and lyrics which show a deep understanding of hip hop and rap’s fundamental ingredients. Sippin’ Music’s best quality is its ability to show off a new style on each track, no two songs sound the same. Cancer Rising introduced itself to Seattle with this record, and immediately cemented its status as one of the most relevant and creative acts to come from the 206. (Written by Novocaine132.)

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