A film about Northwest hip-hop from

The Message E.P.

Seattle rap legend Fatal Lucciauno was very busy in 2012. While he was still working on his grand and iconic opus Respect, Fatal went in the studio with Jake One, and the two of them conjured up a sneak-attack EP called The Message. Respect, which included hits like “Gotta Go,” “Black Hoody Rap,” and “Better Than You,” was completed and released later that same year, and both projects dropped on Seattle’s Sportn’ Life Records.

The Message boasts a lineup of eleven original Jake One beats of all sizes and shapes. The danger of doing a whole record with only one producer is a cloned sound. Jake avoids this pitfall thanks to his creativity, and each beat on The Message is different from the others. On “Warm Ups,” Fatal runs easy victory laps around less capable rappers. “Sinners Prayer” is a strong cut, where the contemplative lyrics are perfectly nestled in the gentle beat. “Some of us are just prone to violence,” confesses Fatal.

One of Fatal’s strongest traits as an MC is the fact that he examines society’s myriad contradictions in his search for meaning. He poses rhetorical question after question on this EP. “How would the world react to a president who’s Black if Huey’s the one who made it instead of Barack,” he asks on “Drunken Poetry.” The last song on The Message, “Cry For Help,” doubles down on this concept, for instance, “What if I was to turn state’s evidence, go against everything I ever believed in?”

Production on “The Mad Hatter” goes to the same drum gravity vortexes found in Jake’s beat for “Rock Co.Kane Flow” by De La Soul. Fatal assembles a strong verbal attack, for example, “Cut your b**** up, this ain’t Nip & Tuck.” But, for me, “Mad Hatter” is too similar to the 2004 De La track for me to relax and enjoy it. Similarly, I also found the loud, peppy drums on “My Caliber” to be distracting when placed with the more mellow lyrics of this love song.

“The Life” is probably my favorite track on The Message. It is an affectionate and sentimental look at the day to day experiences of a dyed-in-the-wool Seattle hustler. Fatal really has a skill at imagery, and similar to Notorious BIG, he packs a lot of content into very few words. “Praying that the District Attorney will lift the sentence. Dreams of a corner office, but every time I’m in it, they give a cup to piss in,” he laments. Some might find the EP’s prominent f-slurs offensive, but no-one can deny that Fatal Lucciauno is among the most dedicated rappers to ever grace the Emerald City streets. Written by Novocaine132

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