A film about Northwest hip-hop from 2017
Surviving Not Living
Thanks to Kelton Sears and Seattle Weekly for constantly hyping local hip-hop and for turning me on to Trowa Barton and his devastating 10-song EP Surviving Not Living. I’ve been dealing with a bunch of personal life shit lately—not unlike the acid cloud hovering over the cityscape on this cover—and this 2017 record has been an addictive salve, featuring songs of moody, broken, and redemptive transfiguration. Take for example the haunting “Mannequin” where he repeats a chorus of “I can’t keep pretending that I’m happy: I’m not.” Towards the end of this track, when you feel near the bottom, the beat steps aside to reveal a chorus of angelic voices. Song after song Trowa argues, in the darkness of depression, there’s still hope. On “Departures” he raps, “I don’t have a plan but I think I might make it yet.” This record is yet another solid entry in Tacoma’s 2017 trap canon—an already crowded field—with eardrum-tickling production that elevates and sets it apart. This one is a real grower and has been a constant companion in recent weeks: With every spin, I connect with it more deeply.