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NEWCOMER

This 82-minute feature film is an intimate introduction to Seattle’s vibrant hip-hop underground. It was assembled from hundreds of tiny performance clips—shot for Instagram—into a single, continuous concert mosaic, and stars 93 of the top hip-hop artists from The Town.

Here’s how KEXP describes it in their review: “NEWCOMER stretches the idea of the concert film to an artistic extreme: Sub-minute snippets artfully arranged to resemble a field recording of Seattle’s rap scene, the pieces fractured and pieced back together in a truly engrossing way. The narrative flows through venues like Barboza, Cha Cha Lounge, Vermillion, Lo-Fi, the Showbox, the Crocodile, and dozens more. It’s Khris P pouring Rainier into a Solo cup while he raps; bodies packed into regional landmark ETC Tacoma; SassyBlack improvising a song urging concertgoers to buy her merch; the delightfully awkward dance moves of white people in KEXP’s Gathering Space; Chong the Nomad beatboxing and playing harmonica simultaneously; Bruce Leroy bullying a beat next to the clothing racks at All-Star Vintage; Specswizard rhyming about his first time performing in front of a crowd while standing before The Dark Crystal playing on a projection screen. The film is about the moments we experience—as lovers of live performance—just as much as the performances themselves.”

NEWCOMER was directed by Gary Campbell and was an official selection at the 2020 New York Hip-Hop Film Festival and the 2020 Golden Sneakers International Hip-Hop Film Festival in Hamburg, Germany. Throughout November 2020, the film screened for four weeks on the Northwest Film Forum theatrical screening site in honor of Hip-Hop History Month.

You can watch the full movie below.

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The Criminal Nation Movie

During 2020’s Coronavirus pandemic, MC Deff (aka Wojack) set about to tell the story of his ’90s gangster rap group through video chats and a simple question: “When did you first hear about Criminal Nation, and what does the group mean to you?”

What follows is a series of touching video voicemails and personal stories from rappers and producers across the Northwest, including Silver Shadow D, J-1, Squeek Nutty Bug, Josh Rizenberg, and many others. This film has a real feel of hanging with the homies. Clearly, this music meant a lot to a lot of people, and this footage is intercut with photos of memorabilia and record covers.

Many of the interviewed artists were youngsters–only 12 or 13 years old–when they first heard the staccato synth opener of Criminal Nation’s mega-hit “Release The Pressure.” Each was thrilled to have hometown heroes on the radio. Awall Jones talks about the beats and his amazement that “they’re from Tacoma, too?!” Un The Rhyme Hustler says, “I was trying to be MC Deff,” echoing the sentiments of many. Several of the artists rap and sing their favorite Criminal Nation songs, too. It’s charming.

Wojack himself does a freestyle summarizing his thoughts on “Day 34 of quarantine.” Notably absent from this project is Wojack’s Criminal National collaborator DJ E (aka Eugenius), though he and the rest of the NastyMix crew–E-Dawg, High Performance, Kid Sensation–all get plenty of props for their roles in establishing the early Northwest sound.

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The Emerald City Beginning

The Emerald City Beginning was released in 2020 as the first episode in a planned, upcoming series about the origins of hip-hop in the Northwest. The show was created by E-Dawg and Rubik: two Town OGs who certainly have all the right credentials to deliver an authentic portrait of ’80s Seattle.

They sit down with Sir Mix-A-Lot, Nasty Nes, and J-Skee. The centerpiece interview is with James “Captain Crunch” Croone, legendary emcee of The Emerald Street Boys. “Nobody could out-bop him,” says J-Skee about Croone’s skills on the mic. “They were sophisticated. They had no weaknesses,” adds Mix.

Captain Crunch tells the story of how The Emerald Street Boys met: Sweet J stole a rhyme from Sugar Bear, or that was the rumor, and they went off to fight him. In 1982, Seattle-King County Visitors’ Bureau had a contest to find a new nickname for Seattle, and “The Emerald City” was chosen. The Emerald Street Boys were originally named so as to take advantage of the newfound tourism buzz.

You’ll learn about some other of the artists from the mythical start of Seattle rap: Silver Chain Gang, Frostmaster Chill, Big Boss Cross, Chelly Chell, and Supreme La Rock. And you’ll learn how clueless the East Coasters were (and continue to be) about the Northwest. When Nasty Nes first brought Mix-A-Lot to NYC, the record execs said rap from Seattle was impossible, in a place “where there are only horse-drawn buggies and green grass.”

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The Residency Presents: The Town

In the early weeks of the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, when the music scene was knocked sideways by the cancellation of live concerts and “stay-at-home” orders came into effect, Macklemore’s The Residency and Crane City Music organized an hourlong cross-generational Zoom conversation between some of the biggest-ever hip-hop artists from Seattle’s past and present. The event was hosted by Town legend Jace.

Each of the participants was invited to offer up their individual perspectives about the past, present, and future of Northwest hip-hop, as well as talk about how the pandemic was personally affecting them and their music. At one point, Sir Mix-A-Lot says he hopes Seattle’s up-and-comers will “get on my shoulders and jump!”

The event was streamed live on April 18, 2020.

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The Coolout Legacy

NYC filmmaker Georgio Brown moved to the Northwest in the early ’90s. In 1991, along with VJ D, he founded The Coolout Network, a public access show on cable television that would record the evolution of Seattle’s early hip-hop scene. As Georgio says at the beginning of this film, “we went to the community centers, parks, schools, clubs… Every place that hip-hop was happening… We wanted to cover it.” They certainly did. Coolout ran for 16 years on television, from 1991 until 2007. Various forms of the project continue online to this day.

This particular film, The Coolout Legacy was made by Georgio Brown himself. He narrates and reflects on the impact of the show and its importance to our local hip-hop community.

There’s vintage footage here galore: A teenage Funk Daddy shows off a trophy “taller than me” that he won at a DJ contest, before showing us some of the moves that earned him the victory. Laura “Piece” Kelley addresses the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated rap scene. She often faces the insult that “she can rap pretty good for a girl.” But she replies, “I rap good for the world… And I don’t rap good. I rap well.”

Rapper H-Bomb heaps some well-deserved praise on Specswizard: “Nobody’s been doing hip-hop in Seattle longer than Specs.” We then catch up with the ‘Wizard and he shares a book of graffiti sketches from ’93. The late, great J. Moore shares his wisdom for success and acknowledges the importance of that Coolout played in “coalescing a scene.”

There are numerous live performances and freestyles of Seattle legends in their early days, as well as national acts like Mary J. Blige and Leaders of The New School. Brown talks about encouraging young artists who bravely stand on a stage with a mic and bear their truths. It’s hard. But with Coolout filming you, “every little victory helps,” adds Ghetto Chilldren’s B-Self.

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The Town Love Hip-Hop Awards

At the start of January 2019, Crane City Music invited Seattle’s hip-hop community to pick their favorite WA state hip-hop records from the past year in a public vote. A total of 267 records were in contention for the top prize. A total of 5,498 votes were cast. Parisalexa’s Bloom took home the top prize, narrowly beating out Kung Foo Grip’s 2KFG and Travis Thompson’s YOUGOOD?

The top 20 winners were revealed via an elaborate laser show countdown event held in February at the Pacific Science Center Laser Dome in Seattle. The laser show itself was choreographed by Joseph Reid and Gary Campbell. The event opened with a playlist of ’90s Seattle hip-hop and a short tribute to Sir Mix-A-Lot’s legacy and the 30th anniversary of his debut, SWASS.

A 14-minute film was made by Taylor Hart that captures highlights from the night.

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Fantasy A Gets Jacked!

Everyone knows Fantasy A–proudly “a rapper with autism”–from his seemingly endless series of posters around Seattle, encourage us to be respectful.

In 2018, he starred in this charming comedy created by David Lewis and Noah Zoltan Sofian. It was shot in and around Georgetown and stars several other hip-hop artists from The Town, including Ready Ron, Logic Amen, and Peace & Red Velvet’s Acacia Porter.

Anyone who’s spent time in the hip-hop scene will find all these plot points familiar: Everyone’s trying to be famous and get ahead, but most of these cats are deluded and desperate. Everyone’s trying to sell their own rap CDs, but nobody’s buying. Fantasy A says “I got the day off from all three of my jobs because it’s my birthday.” Several characters are celebrating birthdays and there’s a talking ruined cake. White rapper Kobe Lebron is ashamed of his birthday, saying “Aftermath Records is not gonna hire a 25-year-old rapper!” Fantasy A then gets ripped off by rival rap crew the Shogun Thugz–who are also celebrating a birthday–and who need the money for better CD artwork.

This film is weird and funny and very, very Seattle. Throw it on and be entertained.

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The Flavor: A Real Hip-Hop Magazine

From 1992 to 1995, Seattle was home to global hip-hop magazine, The Flavor. It wasn’t a magazine about Northwest hip-hop: It was a world hip-hop magazine based that was based in Seattle, with a peak circulation of 70,000 printed copies per issue. As editor and writer Mike Clark explains, the hip-hop genre was fairly new, there was a lot going on, and they “wanted to promote artists that we loved and help them be successful.”

This eight-minute documentary from King Khazm and Will Lemke is wonderful viewing. It’s a joy to learn the history of The Flavor, and the people interviewed are candid about their struggles alongside the successes of the magazine. They were the first magazine in the world to put Nas on the cover, only one example of how they were ahead of their time.

Publisher and editor Alison Pember acknowledges that local rappers would grumble about not being on the magazine cover, but they did have a strategy for putting the Northwest on the map: “Us putting a local artist in an issue with a national artist on the cover… People will pick up the magazine and they’ll read it.” Mike Clark adds the story of how The Flavor connected legendary local group The Ghetto Chilldren to a major label record deal with Geffen.

Finally, you’ll delight in learning about Carl Johnson’s infamous crossword puzzles. They were so incredibly hard and dense with rap lyrical references that the only person who ever solved the puzzle was later hired to work at the magazine.

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PNW Rap: Taking back Seattle’s Soul

This six-minute documentary explores the impact of the rapid gentrification and displacement of arts communities and culture in Seattle.

Blue Scholar Prometheus Brown (aka Geo) strolls Pike Place Market reflecting on the collision of old and new. On success in the local music scene, he notes “Seattle’s big enough for you to pop, but it’s small enough that you can’t have an ego around here. You gotta work with people, you gotta get to know people.”

He then shouts out two local artists–Gifted Gab and Sendai Era–who he feels are keeping the soul of Seattle alive. Gab’s music is “effortless and classic, but it feels new,” he says. We then catch up with Gifted Gab. She notes how Seattle is a “melting pot for all types of artists.” Rapper Era of Sendai Era reminds us that “Asian Americans can rap” while expanding on how hip-hop has given a voice to emergent Pacific Rim communities in the Northwest.

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Top 10 Songs

Throughout the ’90s, writer Novocaine132 extensively covered the Seattle hip-hop scene. You’ll find his byline on feature stories and record reviews in both The Rocket and The Stranger, and he contributed to the marketing of several Tribal and Loosegroove releases, too.

Over the past few years, he’s been posting a series on YouTube called Top 10 Songs where he digs deep into the work of a particular Seattle rap legend, surfacing the not-to-be-missed songs from their catalogs. Whether or not you agree with the specific choices, each video provides a great overview of each artist’s career and there are lots of audio samples so you can hear what each song sounds like.

He adds, “The project began in 2017 when I heard that Wordsayer had passed away. At the time I was retired from music and print journalism, and I was concentrating my efforts on documentary filmmaking. When Jon died it hit me very hard, and I had to evaluate my life and my work. He and I were good friends in the 1990s, and he inspired much of my work in the area of hip-hop writing. I made a Top 10 Songs video of Source Of Labor at the end of 2017 to help deal with the pain of losing Wordsayer. Then in 2018, I made one for Ghetto Chilldren, and it started to become a series. I named my enterprise “Overstanding Seattle” to give tribute and honor to Jonathan Moore, one of the most truly amazing musicians I have ever known.”

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Nine Six Webisode #1

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7 Slaps In The Sack

7 Slaps In The Sack is a video interview series created by Carrick Wenke. Shot between 2014 and 2020, the show has more than 50 episodes, each of which involves going record shopping at Everyday Music on 10th in Seattle with “your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper.”

Everyday Music is sadly gone now, but you can view all the episodes from the series on YouTube. A wide range of Town talent has spent the day shopping with Carrick, talking about favorite records, influences, and craft, including Jarv Dee, Keyboard Kid, Nacho Picasso, Romaro Franceswa, Travis Thompson, and many others.

We’ve embedded a few of our favorite episodes below.

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All Your Friend's Friends

Hmmm... There's not a lot of information about this project in the museum encyclopedia. We'd love your help! TOWN LOVE is maintained by an awesome community of passionate volunteers who keep it all up to date.

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Sir Mix-a-Lot on "Baby Got Back"

During this seven-minute interview with Vlad TV, Sir Mix-A-Lot goes into great detail about the song that has defined his career.

One Sunday afternoon, Mix was watching football. A Bud Light beer commercial came on featuring cartoon “party dog” Spuds MacKenzie and a posse of waif-thin models. He and his girlfriend at the time began discussing the lack of Black women on television, with bodies they recognized and women they themselves saw as beautiful. This led him to write something to confront the “norm” in media… The way fashion magazines like Cosmopolitan “defined any woman bigger than a heroin addict as fat.” He thought the song could make a statement in support of body positivity. But it had to be funny, or no one would pay attention.

Mix wasn’t even sure about the song when he finally recorded “Baby Got Back.” He felt it was perhaps filler material and considered cutting it from his upcoming album. Rick Rubin gave it as listen and suggested dropping the beat on Mix’s punchlines, and this change gives the song its incredible momentum. Mix also credits the influence of German techno pioneers Kraftwerk on his own beat-making.

There’s also some invaluable advice about the importance of musicians owning their own publishing rights. All-in-all, there’s lots of good game in this interview.

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The Blank Canvas

Filmmaker and hip-Hop musician Rafael Flores spent six years making The Blank Canvas: Hip-Hop’s Struggle for Representation in Seattle. The film attempts to document the unique identity of hip-hop culture in Seattle, through interviews with over 100 rappers, producers, DJs, graffiti artists, break-dancers, fashion designers, and promoters from The Town.

It takes us on a journey that investigates the origins of Hip-Hop in the Northwest, the legacy of Sir-Mix-a-Lot, the notorious 1985 Teen Dance Ordinance, Clear-Channel’s dominance over commercial Hip-Hop radio, the increasing popularity of white rappers in Seattle, and hip-hop’s struggle for representation in a seemingly liberal city.

The full 96-minute film is available for rent on Vimeo for $5. Watch the trailer below.

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The Otherside

The Otherside is an hour-long documentary predominantly covering Seattle’s Capitol Hill-centric “third wave” hip-hop scene, circa 2010. This was a time when MP3s and streaming were fairly new and completely reshaping the music industry. Artists like Blue Scholars were experimenting with Kickstarter and direct fan support. Everyone was trying something new.

There’s a wealth of great interviews, concerts, and backstage footage from artists across the Town. There are hella people in this movie. It’s clear the filmmaker tried to talk with anyone and everyone who was willing. There are some great long chats with Jake One, Prometheus Brown, and Sir Mix-A-Lot. There’s also lots of footage of pre-stardom Macklemore & Ryan Lewis as they prepare to drop The Heist.

Larry Mizell Jr. offers up a four-point guide to being successful in the Northwest: “Be truthful to yourself. Be respectful and knowledgeable of what’s going on and what came before you. Be good: Work on your craft. Further the culture at all times.”

The Otherside premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival and was an audience favorite, selling out two consecutive screenings. It was also chosen as “Best of SIFF” by festival programmers.

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50 Next: Seattle Hip-Hop Worldwide

50 Next: Seattle Hip-Hop Worldwide drops you into a literal roundtable conversation between Town legends old and young. James Croone of The Emerald Street Boys tells the story of discovering how “poetry on top of music” could carry a message. Spyc-E shares how she first learned to write rap verses, at age 11, and is kindly teased by the group into performing her first-ever childhood rhymes. Later, Khingz thanks Vitamin D for mentoring him early in his career, and for how it helped him achieve his own success. This half-hour documentary captures several charming, rambling discussions about the long history of Northwest rap. The whole thing is a delight.

Eazeman from ’90s group L.S.R. reflects on how major-label rejection shaped the scene early, saying “If you don’t want to show us for who we really are, then we don’t need you. We’re going to make our own party.” Rapper Candidit adds, “Don’t come if you’re not prepared.”

The group passionately rails against the evils of what they describe as “capitalist hip-hop,” which divides communities and makes local artists into commodities to be bought and sold. There’s a need today for more love and mutual respect and not so much focus on money and fame and numbers. Instead, they explain how everyone making art in the Northwest has a responsibility to fight back against the mainstream, “intended to pacify society” adds CPS da Scientist. Rapper DICE encourages artists to follow their imagination, saying “who cares what is new and cool now. Figure out what it’s going to be cool next, and then be the first to do it.”

50 Next was released as part of a larger online interactive experience by Aaron Walker-Loud and Avi Loud, “a multi-media time capsule of what was, what is, and what’s next…” The whole project is still online and is viewable here.

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Young Seattle

Between 2012 and 2016, musician Sam Lachow created three collaborative short films, each bearing the name “Young Seattle.”

Slightly confusingly, the videos are labeled “Parts 1, 2, and 4.” Part 3 was released as an audio-only track with no video.

Here’s his explanation of the concept: “I make these Young Seattle videos each year simply because I’m a huge fan of all these artists. As a fan, I just thought it’d be badass to put them all on one track. My favorite thing about the Seattle hip-hop scene is that we don’t have any specific sound. There are so many different types of styles in this little city and yet we all fuck with each other. We’re all part of the same culture. It’s fucking cool.”

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BSIDE: VITAMIN D

BSIDE is a short, three-minute documentary from Andria Millie about prolific Seattle producer Vitamin D. It’s a fascinating interview, alongside some all-too-brief cameos from Wordsayer, Sabzi, and D.Black. He acknowledges his significant role in the history of the scene, saying “locally, I’ve mixed and engineered… I don’t know… A big percentage of what kinda comes out.”

He gives his thoughts on “The Seattle Sound” and where it traces its influences from the East Coast and the West Coast and reflects on how he might be remembered long in the future: “How much will my legacy be involved in what the kids are doing?” Go watch it and find out.

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Hidmo Next

Between 2006 and 2010, a Central District Eritrean restaurant called Hidmo served as an important hub for Seattle’s hip-hop scene. Its location at 20th and Jackson was “a community center masquerading as a restaurant,” according to Gabriel Teodros. It was run by two sisters–Rahwa and Asmeret Habtes–community organizers, activists, chefs, and entrepreneurs who offered up a safe space for artists, musicians, youth groups, nonprofits, and activists.

This 21-minute documentary from Scott Macklin captures the final closing night party for Hidmo. It’s “the place that fostered my art,” says JusMoni, before launching into a stunning acapella. Felicia Loud, Suntonio Bandanaz, THEESatisfaction, and OCnotes also share acapella songs and raps. The latter three crowd around a single microphone, for some “do-wop shit,” adds OCnotes.

There’s a real feeling of family throughout this film. Toddlers dance in the background during freestyle raps. You really get a sense of how special Hidmo was to the community. At one point, the camera veers away from the action and visits the kitchen staff and other people working behind the scenes. The director, Scott Macklin, makes a brief appearance in front of the camera to remind us that “Hidmo is about the we,” while addressing apprehension about what comes next.

This wonderful portrait is a beautiful testament to what culture can be fostered when “people just got together and did it.” Watching Hidmo Next in 2021 hits a little different: We lost Rahwa in August 2020 during our pandemic year. In a memorial tribute in The Seattle Times, Hollis Wong-Wear tried to sum up her impact: “Rahwa was the engine, the nucleus, the crucible of that space — I saw her as a titan.”

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Coolout 18

This film drops you into the crowd at the 18th-anniversary party for The Coolout Network, in 2009. Show creator Georgio Brown says the event was something of a dare: When he proposed a showcase featuring 18 of the top talents from The Town, everyone told him, “18 acts in one night? You can’t do it.” Nonetheless, this party proves the skeptics wrong.

There’s some wild live footage here, such as Sinsemilla performing their 2000 hit “Destiny,” or Silver Shadow D showing off his ability to rap and beatbox simultaneously.

Gabriel Teodros explains how meaningful both Coolout and Georgio himself have been to his growth as an artist. He recalls being 18 and rapping at the back of the bus, and Georgio walked up to him, handed him his Coolout card, and said, “You’re tight. You should do your thing.” You hear similar stories from many of the other artists in attendance, shouting out Georgio for “holding it down and documenting the scene. Y’all seeing history right here.”

This movie captures those elusive feelings of camaraderie and casual socializing: Watching it, you really feel like you’re hanging out at a Seattle hip-hop show on a Tuesday night, and everyone’s here and nobody’s in a rush to get anywhere.

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This is 206 Zulu

Georgio Brown gives you a look inside the Hip Hop Collective 206 Zulu. A chapter of the Universal Zulu Nation in Seattle Washington. Founded by Afrika Bambaataa and Led by Zulu King Khazm, they promote Peace, Love, Unity, and having fun as well as doing positive things in the community. Meet its members and hear why they are a part of 206 Zulu.

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Wheedle's Groove

During the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, and decades before Nirvana, Microsoft and Starbucks put Seattle on the map, Seattle’s African American neighborhood known as the Central District was buzzing. The soul sounds of groups like Black On White Affair, Cookin’ Bag, and Cold Bold & Together filled local airwaves and packed clubs seven nights a week. As many of the bands began breaking out nationally via major record deals, television appearances, and gigs with the likes of Curtis Mayfield and Stevie Wonder, the public demanded disco and the scene slipped into obscurity.

Flash forward thirty years later, local cratedigger DJ Mr. Supreme unearthed Seattle’s soulful past by finding a dusty 45 single by Black On White Affair in a .99 cent bin at a Seattle record show. By 2003, he had carved out an impression of a once-thriving scene with a pile of Seattle soul 45s, some of which were fetching upwards of $5,000 on the collector circuit. Supreme approached local label Light In The Attic with the idea of releasing an album compilation of his discoveries, and the result was entitled Wheedle’s Groove: Seattle’s Finest In Funk & Soul 1965-75. At the release party, a line of nostalgic 60-year-old fans and funk-hungry 20-somethings wrapped around the block as the musicians inside (currently working as graphic designers, janitors, and truck drivers), reflected on music dreams derailed and prepared to perform together for the first time in 30 years – their performance sizzles.

Narrated by Seattle’s own Sir Mix-A-Lot and featuring interviews with local soul musicians of the era, as well as commentary from Seattle native and legendary producer Quincy Jones, jazz-pop star Kenny G (himself a veteran of the 1970’s regional scene), and fresh perspectives from members of Soundgarden, Death Cab For Cutie, and Mudhoney, Wheedle’s Groove proves that The Emerald City’s got soul.

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Seattle Producers on Crossfader

Hmmm... There's not a lot of information about this project in the museum encyclopedia. We'd love your help! TOWN LOVE is maintained by an awesome community of passionate volunteers who keep it all up to date.

Do you know something about the history of this record? Do you have a favorite lyric or a favorite memory? Send us an email on why this is one of the great hip-hop albums from the Northwest. Thanks!

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The Coolout Network

Here’s a full episode of Georgio Brown’s The Coolout Network, from either 2006 or 2007. (This might be Sportn’ Life Swagger Fest from April 2007?)

Coolout hosts Gloria Medina and Royce hang out backstage at Chop Suey and chop it up with the performers, surfacing candid comments and impromptu freestyles from Fatal Lucciauno, D. Black, Mackelmore, and Dyme Def.

There are some great live performances here from big names working small stages early in their careers. “If you weren’t here at Chop Suey on a Tuesday, you missed it.” How familiar does that sound? This scene never really changes.

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EMP: Seattle Hip-Hop

This short film about the history of Northwest hip-hop was shot by Darek Mazzone in 2001. It was made to highlight the local scene as part of the “Hip-Hop Nation” exhibit put on by the Experience Music Project in Seattle.

There’s a lot packed into four minutes, including all-too-brief interviews with Sir Mix-A-Lot, DJ Riz, Wordsayer, Mr. Supreme, Kutfather, Piece, and others. They cover off what hip-hop is and whether or not it’s a fad. Supreme explains the four elements, you learn the story of NastyMix and The Emerald Street Boys, and Topspin does some cool scratching.

At one point, DJ Riz shares the most wonderfully Seattle thing ever: “Seattle was there right from the beginning, close to the origins of regular hip-hop.” Go devote the next four minutes to learning some new knowledge about the culture.

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Enter The Madness

Enter The Madness is an hour-long film from 2000 that provides an essential time capsule of turn-of-the-millennium hip-hop in the Pacific Northwest. It was directed by King Khazm and produced by DJ Scene, and includes flashes of late-’90s Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver, too.

The film adheres to the four pillars of hip-hop, devoting a roughly equal amount of time to riveting turntable battles, incredible, lengthy breakdancing sequences, freestyles, rap battles, and walls painted with now long-gone graffiti. The film captures many moments that even at the time were fleeting… That today would be forgotten were it not for the existence of this film.

There are some curious editing choices here–like, say cutting back and forth between graffiti and a peeing elephant–or the addition of picture frame borders, fisheye lenses, and inverted film negative effects, but there are also dozens of blink-and-you’ll miss cameos from Seattle hip-hop greats like Silver Shadow D, Kutfather, Asun, Khingz, and others. Sit back with your favorite accompaniment and enjoy this visual spectacle.

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Jonathan Moore Speaks

A classic moment from The Coolout Network: Jonathan Moore speaks at a hip-hop peace rally at Westlake Center in Seattle, WA. after a shooting in Pioneer Square. He describes the power of hip-hop musicians and rappers to tell the stories of Black youth. “We are the media,” he repeats.

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Sir Mix-A-Lot on Northwest Hip-Hop

In 1999, the Museum of Pop Culture interviewed Sir Mix-A-Lot about growing up in Seattle and the Northwest. “When I was 12-13 years old, we had nothing to listen to, nothing we could identify with.” In his view, hip-hop started out at house parties, and in the beats of Devo, Kraftwerk, and Gary Numan, and then the pants, the hairdos, and the slang that followed. This is a worthwhile two minutes to learn some cool details about the beginnings of the hip-hop genre from someone who was there.

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