A film about Northwest hip-hop from 1995
As far as Eye can See
One of the earliest modern usages of the word ‘woke’ came in a 1962 New York Times article titled “Phrases And Words You Might Hear Today In Harlem.” Now in 2021, the word has developed to mean essentially alertness to racial or social injustice.
In 1994 Seattle poet and rap artist Spyc-E released her first album titled As far as Eye can See. This album is a collection of the most woke ideas from across the spectrum. It succeeds as a proto-dissertation on gender studies, power dynamics, racial hegemony, and a host of other issues. Spyc-E was very young when she put this album together, and she displays a student’s curiosity for history and explanations.
As far as Eye can See is a groundbreaking work of intersectional art, and Spyc-E candidly raps about her experience as a woman, a person of color, a revolutionary, a hip-hop artist, and a multitude of others. Tracks from talented producer Greg Fields perfectly accentuate her lyrics, and together they came up with a rap sound that was new to Seattle.
Spyc-E raps in a hurry-up-slow-down cycle, suddenly blasting words at a million miles per hour, and then pausing with barely a whisper, before rapping some more. Words pile up, tied with strings in express mail bundles. The density of this release cannot be overstated. One primary lyrical topic here is how 400 years of slavery created a stamp on America that generations have struggled to erode. She wants people to take power over their destinies by knowing who they are inside. Her vocal dexterity could easily be compared to the legendary E-40, whose dips and dives make his raps so much more layered with emphasis. Many of the tracks on As far as Eye can See take a big-picture look at social and political issues from 30,000 feet. In “And We Mad” she prophetically raps, “dissatisfaction leads to social action,” and we just have to look at the unrest in 2020 to see that this is true. This release should be considered among the top hip-hop albums in 1990’s Seattle. (Written by Novocaine132.)