A film about Northwest hip-hop from


The 1991 film Silence Of The Lambs left an indelible mark on an entire generation of filmgoers, thanks to the triple-tension between FBI agent Clarice Starling, Buffalo Bill, and the iconic Hannibal Lecter. In Seattle, a duo of MCs (Jace and Blak) decided to name their group Silent Lambs Project, and their first release was a five-song EP called Comrade in 1998. Strath Shepard and Jack Devo both wrote terrific reviews of Comrade which can be read here at Town Love. Two years later, Silent Lambs Project returned with their second record “H.O.R.,” which stands for House Of Respect.

A-side “H.O.R.” has a phenomenal accompanying video which captures Jace and Blak riding a Metro bus, and ends with them on a giant dark stage rapping into hanging microphones. It is a very conceptual and mind-bending achievement directed by Erika Conner and John Lamar. Lyrics like, “The daily operation, to find a location, to rock the mic roundabout, like down and out,” illustrate how the group raps not for entertainment or fun, but because hip-hop is their most deep primal addiction. “Fiend for the mic,” is repeated over and over, and the listener can feel that the MCs need to rap more than they need to breathe. “H.O.R.” is produced by Bean One, and the beat sounds tailor-made for the group, with extra mystery sauce.

Side B cut “The Bagg” features both MCs continuing to exhibit their phrase-after-phrase rap style, and each verse is a never ending run-on sentence of words which may or may not relate to each other or even rhyme. “Motivate to untranslate,” “suffocate over beat breaks,” multiple meanings kaleidoscope in your mind as these words ricochet around. The beat is produced by King Otto, who produced many tracks for Silent Lambs Project.

Silent Lambs Project put out their full album Soul Liquor that same year, including “Comrade,” “H.O.R.,” “The Bagg,” and eleven other tracks. I have never quite been able to comprehend their style, the firehose of William Burroughs-level non-sequiturs leave me feeling confused and a bit off-balance. Maybe that is exactly what they want to achieve in their music? Written by Novocaine132

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Soul Liquor

I always thought that if this album dropped in any other city it would have been a huge, huge hit. Likewise, if it had dropped a couple of years after its release. But in 2000, Seattle was still off the hip-hop radar, and The Silent Lambs Project (Jace and Blak) was unfortunately just too far ahead of their time.

You can hear their voices on the early Seattle compilations, over the grey, murky, rainy musical backdrop, but when they joined forces as The Silent Lambs, they took that bleak, damp atmosphere to a whole new level.

Soul Liquor is a dark album. Dark and ominous. Jace’s rhymes are sedated and deadpan like he hasn’t seen the sun in months, while Blak’s deep-bass voice growls and stutters on the offbeat like some sick troll under a bridge.

Producer King Otto (along with Mr. Hill and Bean One) provides the perfect sonic backdrop. Listen to the string section straining for a resolution that never comes on “H.O.R.”, or the disjointed piano loop from “Original Conviction.” Or the empty, cave-like quality of the live cuts. This is a dark record.

Whereas Seattle compatriots Oldominion tend to glorify and romanticize the dark side of existence, The Silent Lambs give it to you straight. There’s no glorification here. Every metaphor is spoken in a monotone, like a grocery list, making the blasted aural landscape even bleaker. So I guess this album wouldn’t have been a hit in another city, as it is so definitely a Northwest record. And if it had come out later, it might have just been dismissed as another act cashing in on the “Northwest Sound” credited to Oldominion. It’s too bad because The Silent Lambs Project deserves to be recognized as one of the great inspirational acts in the underground hip-hop constellation. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from


Most people ’round these parts don’t know it, but Washington ranked right behind New York and California on the list of most-prolific states for underground hip-hop releases in 1998. True, most rap fans probably couldn’t name three or four Northwest groups to save their lives (Mix-A-Lot doesn’t count, dude), but we’re coming up, slowly but surely, building a track record with consistently good releases and the label infrastructure to support.

One such label is Olympia’s own K Records, which, along with Impact Entertainment, has dropped critically acclaimed releases from Black Anger, Bedroom Produksionz, and a whole slew of Northwest talent on the 1998 compilation, Classic Elements.

The Silent Lambs Project represents a collaboration between MCs Blak (of Blind Council) and Jace. The duo’s abstract lyrical style is fueled by production from DJ Sayeed, Mr. Supreme, King Otto, and Specs. Though the songs all stand out as individuals, “No J.R.,” “Stand Over Him” and “S.L. Shit” particularly beg to be blended into a soundtrack for your walk through the streets as gray clouds loom ominously overhead.

“Comrade” is the EP’s single, featuring guest vocals from Kendo of Black Anger and a mellow, CTI Jazz-sounding flute loop courtesy of DJ Sayeed. But the stand-out cut of the record is “Paid Poet,” produced by the Northwest’s most underrated beat miner, King Otto. Given a little more bounce and bassline, Otto’s work here could easily transform into mundane jigginess for some type-shallow MC to spit over. Lucky for us, he keeps it more mysterious, presenting a nice complement to Blak’s sedately frenetic flows.

All in all, Comrade is a very Northwest-sounding record. Who knows if the rest of the world can identify with those rain clouds overhead? As long as you have your soundtrack, it really doesn’t matter. Pop the Silent Lambs’ joint in your Walkman and leave your umbrella at home. (This review originally appeared in The Rocket and was written by Strath Shepard.)

Here’s another take:

Few acts come out the gate as strong as The Silent Lambs Project did here. This debut EP from 1998, with the signature abstract, cerebral, and head-scratching poetry from Jace and Blak, devastates from beginning to end. But nothing less should be expected from this duo.

In 1998, both lyricists were veterans of the scene: Jace as a part of Fourth Party, and Silas holding it down in Blind Council. But listening to this release, you’d think they’d been in the same group forever. Both are foils to the other: Blak’s delivery is edgy and filled with tension, while Jace’s floats smoothly and effortlessly over the beat. The two deliver perfection like yin and yang.

Joining them on the various tracks are some of Seattle’s top producers: DJ Sayeed from Black Anger/Bedroom Produksionz provides the title track and “SL Shit”, King Otto’s on deck for “Paid Poet”, Mr. Supreme from the Conmen shows up for “No J R”, and SpecsOne produced “Stand Over Him”. Kendo from Black Anger also shows up on the title track, “Comrade.” (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

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