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Listen To The Greg B

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Lollipop Girl

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

The Dotted Line...

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Trouble In The Hood

Criminal Nation have finally put out their follow-up album to their ’90’s surprise hit, Release The Pressure. They continue the hard-core themes that have brought them limited popularity in the press: Bitches, thievin’, and general gang mayhem abound. It’s been covered many times before. DJ Quick and other LA rappers have just about played this theme out.

The music kicks, though, and the layered sampling and heavy-handed bass will have your speakers jumping. The cameo appearance of the 1st Lady, soon to be a star in her own right, makes for some diversity. Notable tunes are “You Can’t Funk With It” and the jazzy “Just Loungin.” (This review originally appeared in The Rocket and was written by Scott Griggs.)

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

It's About To Get Chilly

It’s About To Get Chilly is the third release from Chilly Uptown. It came out on cassette in 1992 at the threshold of what Charles Mudede termed the post-Sir-Mix-A-Lot “First Wave” in his seminal 2015 essay on Seattle rap history. However, this record is a polar opposite to the more conscious vibes of Jasiri and Tribal, who were leading that first wave.

Immediately Chilly’s album hits you with its first track, “Cop Killer.” As we all know, the 1991 Rodney King LAPD beating incident led to the 1992 Los Angeles riots, which spread across America. “Cop Killer” addresses many of the grievances that those protesters voiced when they burned buildings and looted stores.

The album continues with “What U Claim” which is an ode to people in Seattle who wanted to adopt an ‘appropriate’ gang culture and imagery into their personas when they had no business doing so. As you continue listening to the album, you discover that Chilly finds a strikingly poetic voice. This is definitely gangster rap a la Eazy-E, but Chilly takes time for observations and anecdotes. The music cracks the mystery of how to make a life of crime sound simultaneously appealing and yet futile.

Much of the credit for the album’s success goes to producer Fresco Zendejas, who was going by “AKA” at the time. Zendejas sampled some blockbuster beats like Isley Brothers “Between The Sheets” and Gap Band “Yearning For Your Love” years before the same tracks were made famous by Biggie and Nas respectively. In fact, everything about It’s About To Get Chilly seems very futuristic for 1992.

My favorite track on the album is a quasi spoken word piece titled “Check Yourself.” On this song, Chilly struggles with racism at his workplace and also expresses doubt in his Christian faith taught to him by his mother. The track is extraordinary in its honesty and for its themes of philosophical pondering. The dusty sounds of Tribal and Jasiri may have set the stage for the “First Wave” of Seattle hip hop, but Chilly Uptown was a smooth-talking hustler with an unstoppable attitude. It’s About To Get Chilly is a Seattle original indeed.

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

The Way I Swing

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Baby Got Back

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Hold Tight 2 da Rhythm

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It's A Ghetto Thang

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

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Til Ya Satisfied

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Flavin’ In Bumpcity

This is the rare Flavin’ In Bumpcity tape from group PD2, circa 1992.

This cassette features the second PD2 lineup, with MC Willin’ “The Villin’” replacing MC 3-D at the mic. “Groove Manipulator” 2Smooth continues to hold down the beats and serves as the backbone of the group.

There’s a video on YouTube video where the two explain their sound as an original and funky counterweight to the NastyMix all-stars. Indeed, they clearly felt there was some camaraderie and rivalry here… They shout out Mix-A-Lot, Kid Sensation, and Criminal Nation repeatedly throughout the tape.

The sound is squarely in the Public Enemy and Bomb Squad sweet spot, but Bumpcity is all about having fun. There are no real breaks between the songs, it’s a non-stop jam from the get-go, with skits and interludes and Seattle references throughout. The group says they wanted to make “music you can relate to… That when you get to the end, you say “damn!” and press rewind to hear it again.” The standout cut here is the closer, “Givemewhatugot,” which, indeed, I always rewind and listen to again.

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Mack Daddy

An undeniable classic. All Seattle rap today, in many ways, is indebted to, influenced by, a reaction to, or a refutation of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s Mack Daddy and its mega-mega-mega-hit “Baby Got Back.”

This rocket ship blasted off from the Emerald City space pad in 1992–during the pinnacle of grunge–marking a time when Seattle was momentarily the ultimate hub of mainstream cool for both ’90s rap AND rock music. Go give this a spin. It still sounds fresh today.

Here’s some fun facts: Mix recorded this whole record at home, in Auburn, WA, in a digital home studio off the side of his dining room. Mack Daddy was self-released by Mix on his own new record label, Rhyme Cartel, having finally completed his divorce from NastyMix by early 1992. The album’s working title was Possessed. The record was distributed by Rick Rubin and Def American, who reportedly invested one million dollars into the promotion and marketing. Mix-A-Lot once estimated he’d made more than $100,000,000.00 from royalties from the song “Baby Got Back.”

A couple of years back I was lucky to catch Sir Mix’s semi-secret show in front of Dick’s Drive-in on Broadway. And man, the guy is still on fire almost 30 years later.

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The Power of Rhyme

Let’s be honest: The Seattle rap scene has become a disappointment. At one time a couple of years back it was being hailed as a budding talent pool, just notches below New York and LA. NastyMix was at the forefront of Northwest rap and Kid Sensation looked to be a potential national hit right after his first LP.

Kid Sensation’s new album, The Power of Rhyme, will not be the area’s savior. The style is a mediocre hard hip-hop attempt–showing no improvement from his debut–with one noteworthy song, “The Way We Swing,” a collaboration with Ken Griffey, Jr. It’s not enough to save this album. The LP has been out since early spring, and by now it is fair to judge the Kid’s mass appeal; outside baseball collectors, there has been little. (This review originally appeared in The Rocket and was written by Scott Griggs.)

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