A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Checkmate

After recording three albums in six years, Save Me in 1999, Crown Royale in 2003, and The Rebirth in 2004, Seattle rapper Gangsta Nutt was ready to go even higher. He assembled a star-studded guest list and dropped the epic double-CD Checkmate as his second album of 2004. Coming in at 31 tracks, Checkmate might be the longest album ever from a Seattle rap artist.

Standout tracks on disc one include “Ten Toes,” which gives the listener a dramatic contrast, hard lyrics set to a soft and sweetly gentle beat. Nutt admits that life, “Got me heavy on some real s***, my mind on some meal s***, I’m living to die, so I’m on some murder, death, kill s***.” Somewhere around the halfway point in “It Goes Down” (featuring Yukmouth) I started involuntarily nodding my head and really catching the vibe.

“Heavy On My Mind,” “Bout That Drama,” and “Dangerous” are solid gangsta cuts which explain Nutt’s perspective through his confessional lyrics. His gravelly voice somehow captures the urgency of living in the streets day to day. “A petty-a** beef took him from his wife and kids,” goes a sorrowful line from “Heavy On My Mind.” One of Nutt’s achievements on Checkmate is the desperate conviction with which he performs his lyrics.

The pleasant and melodic “Listen To My Demo” (featuring Budder) describes how difficult it can be to get a foothold in the constantly shifting music industry, especially for someone trying to escape a former life of crime. “All I Ever Wanted” is a celebratory cut about material success. “All I ever wanted was a plushed out crib, with a super bad b**** in my plushed out whip,” dreams Nutt in the chorus.

The last track on disc two, “King Of 206” might be my favorite on the album. The beat has sinister bounce, while the lyrics brag and boast. Gangsta Nutt had accomplished all he set out to, but as he phrased it on one of his early hits, there is always “mo to grab.” I gotta give a shout out to RC The Trackaholiq who produced much of this album. The beats on Checkmate will rattle your trunk or your living room, and that’s a promise.

In 1982 according to legend, producer Quincy Jones considered almost seven hundred different songs for Thriller. Eventually Jones recorded thirty songs and then picked the best nine for the final record. To me that’s more fair to the listener. To be honest, Checkmate is a little exhausting, and a few of the songs probably could have been left off. But for those who have an unlimited appetite for gangsta tales, this double album will be the answer to their prayers. Written by Novocaine132

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Crown Royale

Gangsta Nutt’s first album Save Me in 1999 introduced him as a West Seattle OG, ready to tell his story. On hits like “Criminal Life,” and “My Micasa,” Nutt unveiled his hustling pedigree. The album made waves, and he continued recording over the next few years, dropping his sophomore album Crown Royale in 2003.

Crown Royale continues the themes of Save Me. The rough “Ride 4 Tha Cause” and the more funky “Parle” both feature Tasty T. “Mo To Grab” reminds us that we should never rest on our accomplishments, but rather continue reaching for greater and greater heights. I like the chorus, “Lord how I appreciate this life that I’ve had, but I feel there’s more to grab.” The excellent “This Ain’t Livin” has a smooth R.C. The Trackaholiq beat that carries Nutt’s lyrics like a boat on glassy water. The song was previously featured in 2002 on R.C.’s compilation titled When It Rains.

Local Seattle group Mob Related appears on three tracks here. “The Heat Iz On” features Mr Cashflow, who is also the executive producer of Crown Royale. The other two songs are “Point Of No Return,” and “Survival Of The Fittest.” The credits mention an upcoming Mob Related project, but according to Discogs, that second Mob album never came out.

On “Lost Souls” and “Changes,” Nutt pens his most revealing lines. “Hello God, I know it’s been a long time since we conversed,” he admits on “Lost Souls.” The theme of “Changes” is for each of us to live our lives in a positive way, avoiding an early grave. He dedicates this track to several of his fallen soldiers at the beginning. Gangsta Nutt, real name Lanell Jackson, passed away in 2021, rest in peace. Written by Novocaine132

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Save Me

Seattle’s Point Side Records entered the hip-hop game in 1998 with the release of Self Tightld’s Hustlin-N-Hell album on cassette and CD. A promising West Seattle raised MC named Gangsta Nutt guested on two Hustlin-N-Hell songs, “Problems,” and “Negatives.” Nutt had the fire in his gut, and he recorded his own solo album Save Me on Point Side the following year in 1999. Save Me is all about gangster life and hustling. According to Nutt’s ReverbNation page, “Even though Gangsta Nutt’s “ghetto experience” has seen its share of adversity, he says he doesn’t regret any of its negative elements, because it has made him the Man, the Father, as well as the MC that he has become.”

Some of the cuts on Save Me don’t quite come together. For instance, opener “The Twist” is muddled by the persistent beeping sound of a truck backing up. “Letter To The Pen” features a distracting off-key melody in the chorus that pulled me out of the vibe. Despite small missteps, the album on the whole is a strong debut. Gangsta Nutt is a practiced rapper who knows how to tell a story and get his point across. “Love Clutch” and “Don’t Stop” tackle the subject of women and relationships. “Last Word” and title track “Save Me” both illustrate the bleak choices that many young people face growing up in America. I have to admit that I like the multiple meanings of the album title. Does he mean save his soul for Jesus? Save him from a life of crime? Save this album to my iTunes list?

Highlights include track five, “Criminal Life,” with a slinky beat produced by RC The Trackaholiq. “Criminal Life” features singing by Francci and raps by legendary Los Angeles veteran King T. Another strong cut is the sentimental “My Micasa,” which is a look back at how Nutt fell into a life of hustling. After a long and successful rap career, Gangsta Nutt passed away in June of 2021, rest in peace to an OG. Written by Novocaine132

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