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The Only Forgotten Son

In a podcast interview with DJ Peg, Fatal Lucciauno remembers the first rap that he ever wrote when he was a young child of seven or eight years old. Then he proceeds to spit the verse, which uses the hook, “Education is the key.” Fatal also remembers a second early rhyme that he wrote about having a positive Black identity, despite the legacy of historical American racism.

Fast forward to 2006, and Seattle rap family Sportn’ Life Records was having a huge year. The label put out Cause & Effect by D. Black, an album so heavy that it has been described here at Town Love as a “debate-ending anvil from a talented prodigy.” Sportn’ Life then teased an album from Fatal Lucciauno by dropping a three-song promo CDr. The hard hitting tracks, “Watch My Back,” “You Ain’t Hood,” and “Opportunity (feat. J Pinder),” made an impression on Seattle rap fans, and by 2007, Fatal had completed his debut album, The Only Forgotten Son.

“I’m Here” starts things off like a shot of strong liquor, instantly setting the mood. Before The Only Forgotten Son, Fatal had collaborated a couple of times with D. Black, and early in their careers the two rappers shared a lyrical and thematic gangsta rap lane. Fatal’s delivery on “I’m Here” definitely reminds me of D. Black, and that’s a good thing. The music sounds doom-filled and ominous, and the lyrics are hungry, “So fuck the label, fuck the law, fugitive artist, I just duck and draw.”

“Won’t Change” brings Tribal Productions legend Vitamin D onboard to drop his herky-jerky jalopy flow over a slinky groove. In fact, Vitamin keeps his production batting average high by effortlessly smacking beats like this one out of the park. Vitamin shares some of his life history so we can understand his pedigree, “Raised Democrat, soul child, used to bump Pendergrass, into rap, plus there’s a little pimping in the cat.” Fatal’s lyrics are more defiant, and he stakes a claim to his hood identity which is set in stone. Things get even more gritty on “Don’t Grind Don’t Eat,” and the song reminds us that everyone needs a hustle to survive, whether it’s a legit one, or something more criminal.

My favorite track on the album is “Gangsta Groove.” This absolute classic was produced by D. Black, who made six of the beats on the album, including “I’m Here.” “Gangsta Groove” drops little bon mots and aphorisms alongside punchlines and hard rhymes. With references to David Hasselhoff and O.J. Simpson, the track weaves humor with real talk in a very effective way. Fatal would go on to have one of the most accomplished careers of any Seattle MC, with at least six full albums under his belt. The Only Forgotten Son is another big win for Sportn’ Life Records. Written by Novocaine132

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Kalito

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The Revenge of OTA Benga

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Rahmeece

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The Message E.P.

Seattle rap legend Fatal Lucciauno was very busy in 2012. While he was still working on his grand and iconic opus Respect, Fatal went in the studio with Jake One, and the two of them conjured up a sneak-attack EP called The Message. Respect, which included hits like “Gotta Go,” “Black Hoody Rap,” and “Better Than You,” was completed and released later that same year, and both projects dropped on Seattle’s Sportn’ Life Records.

The Message boasts a lineup of eleven original Jake One beats of all sizes and shapes. The danger of doing a whole record with only one producer is a cloned sound. Jake avoids this pitfall thanks to his creativity, and each beat on The Message is different from the others. On “Warm Ups,” Fatal runs easy victory laps around less capable rappers. “Sinners Prayer” is a strong cut, where the contemplative lyrics are perfectly nestled in the gentle beat. “Some of us are just prone to violence,” confesses Fatal.

One of Fatal’s strongest traits as an MC is the fact that he examines society’s myriad contradictions in his search for meaning. He poses rhetorical question after question on this EP. “How would the world react to a president who’s Black if Huey’s the one who made it instead of Barack,” he asks on “Drunken Poetry.” The last song on The Message, “Cry For Help,” doubles down on this concept, for instance, “What if I was to turn state’s evidence, go against everything I ever believed in?”

Production on “The Mad Hatter” goes to the same drum gravity vortexes found in Jake’s beat for “Rock Co.Kane Flow” by De La Soul. Fatal assembles a strong verbal attack, for example, “Cut your b**** up, this ain’t Nip & Tuck.” But, for me, “Mad Hatter” is too similar to the 2004 De La track for me to relax and enjoy it. Similarly, I also found the loud, peppy drums on “My Caliber” to be distracting when placed with the more mellow lyrics of this love song.

“The Life” is probably my favorite track on The Message. It is an affectionate and sentimental look at the day to day experiences of a dyed-in-the-wool Seattle hustler. Fatal really has a skill at imagery, and similar to Notorious BIG, he packs a lot of content into very few words. “Praying that the District Attorney will lift the sentence. Dreams of a corner office, but every time I’m in it, they give a cup to piss in,” he laments. Some might find the EP’s prominent f-slurs offensive, but no-one can deny that Fatal Lucciauno is among the most dedicated rappers to ever grace the Emerald City streets. Written by Novocaine132

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Respect

Seattle hip-hop blog 206UP picked this record as one of the “Top 10 Albums of 2012,” saying that:

Fatal Lucciauno’s stubborn refusal of the Seattle rap status quo is probably one of the most important statements made in the local arts. In a city home to the nation’s annual White Privilege Conference, it’s no surprise that the gregarious Macklemore has become Seattle hip-hop’s envoy to the rest of the world. That shit happened basically by default.

On the colder end of town, however, is where Fatal stages his operations. Hardcore and unforgiving to a fault, Respect is the other side of Seattle rap’s truth. It rejects even the militant-light stylings of acts like Blue Scholars and Gabriel Teodros, preferring to cast flickering reds and blues on the folks too preoccupied with basic survival than to be troubled with thoughts of the revolution. And in a year when we viewed all local rap through a Heist-colored lens, it’s important to ask ourselves: What percentage of those “Thrift Shop”-ers actually understood how their discovery of joy in a dirty bargain bin can be construed as yet another ironic luxury is borne out of privilege?

It’s true we’re all better people when re-purposing perfectly useable disposed goods, feeding our souls with something truer than what is marketed to us. But Fatal’s Respect speaks on a different type of hunger: the one for things untarnished after a lifetime of languishing at the bottom.

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WTF Happened

A menacing synth chord opens WTF Happened, this 15-track comeback thunderclap from Fatal Lucciauno, who returns to the top chair after a five-year hiatus from the scene. The chord hovers, and swells, as Fatal begins rapping, slowly at first, building the intensity, growing in agitation and delirium. The videos from this record, “Sacrifice,” “Speaking in Tongues,” and “WTF Happened” all feature him staring directly at the camera, dispensing with adornment… In the case of the latter one, he’s shirtless, marching down an alleyway, half-naked and powerful, just a man spitting with that strong, unmistakable rapid-fire wordplay. Fav track “Power Play” is lyrical and hypnotic. There’s an elegant way that these songs unfold, downtrodden, but hopeful, deliberating choices or lack of choices, with songs like “I’d Rather Die,” contemplating time and mortality. This record is supported by the weight of the Black Umbrella collective, with guest verses from Sam Lachow and Malitia Malimob, along with epic string-heavy production that’s become something of a signature for that label. It’s good to have you back and bold, Fatal Lucciauno. WTF Happened, indeed.

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