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Time Flies

Phamily Tribal Gang combined the rhymes of rapper Dee-Love (Dwayne Love) with the talents of producer Big Beezie Mack (Fred Byrdwell). Time Flies was the group’s three-song cassette debut.

The song “Time Flies” opens with lone piano notes and drum hits that explore a distant, vast expanse. The sparse instrumentation slowly coasleses into melody. Guitarist “Biggie” Lewis and singer Lisa Allen join in. Dee-Love raps his thoughts about the passage of hours and days. He feels like “Time is goin’ at record speed.” Suddenly, it’s last call at the party. He tries to hook up with his ex, but she ain’t havin’ it. The next day, he’s chilling at the crib with friends. After everyone leaves, he reflects, “Thank God for one more day.” The tape includes two additional songs, “Old School” and “Phuck Me.”

Beezie Mack was part of the posse behind Def In The Family, a record store located on the corner at Broadway and Jefferson. They’d carry explicit rap CDs and tapes that other stores wouldn’t. Their shop also incorporated a small recording studio where many locals cut their first rap tracks. It served as an important hub for the city’s music community. The Def In The Family space was operated by Emery Buford, Godfrey Chambers, Sean Mcafee, Tunde Salisbury, and Damani Williams.

Phamily Tribal Gang followed up this single in 1995 with a 17-song album called Hole In The Chest. The CD’s cover art has no tracklisting or credits, leaving its many contributors and song titles a mystery.

In 1996, Beezie Mack and Dee-Love produced and recorded Phamily Orientated, one of Seattle’s earliest hip-hop compilation albums. Many new artists are featured, including Shabazz Coalition, a new rap collective led by former Di-Ra Boy Sean Malik.

Over three decades, Beezie Mack has contributed musical mojo to dozens of street-level Seattle albums including turn-of-the-millennium gangsta classics from No Good Therapy, Sarkastik, Self Tightld, and Walt Nut. Around that time, changed his moniker to Beezie 2000.

Dee Love dropped his own solo debut in 1996. The album, Show Me The Money, was produced by Criminal Nation’s Eugenius.

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Where Do We Sign "G"?

This is the second demo I’ve received from Six In The Clip and it’s a step in the right direction from their last demo. The cassette is well-arranged this time with an intro titled, what else?, “Hip-Hop Intro.” Cuts like “Bullet in the Clip” and “Peanut Gallery” showcase their lyrical abilities and shows their growth and maturity from their stereotype Young Black Teenager image. The tape’s drawback is that there are a couple of songs from the last demo that don’t live up to the standards of the new material. These guys will get somethin’ on effort alone due to all their shows and press they get both locally and nationally. (This review originally appeared in The Flavor and was written by Mike Clark.)

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David “General Jam” Akers and Derrick “MC Nitro” Graves met at a party in 1983, and soon became a rap duo. They chose the name Powercore, and in 1989 the two dropped their only album, We Got The Jazz, engineered by Gary Mula. MC Nitro produced most of the beats on We Got The Jazz, and the album displayed the two talented MCs on inventive tracks like “All The Way,” “Nita,” and “The Bass Is In Effect.”

After that release, Akers teamed up with Mula to work on a solo album. It would take four years to complete, during which time Akers changed his name from “General Jam” to “D. Rogale.” The album title is Metamorphosis, and it’s a drastic departure from any of the themes on We Got The Jazz. Live music makes up a huge element of the soundscape, and a long list of musicians are credited, including guitar, bass, flute, saxophone, flugelhorn, and trumpet. One little detail that I love is that the 1989 promo bio for Powercore says that Akers’ favorite color is purple, and sure enough that is the color of the artwork for 1993’s Metamorphosis.

Metamorphosis is about inner thoughts and personal growth. The album is arranged into three stages marked by short skits. “Stage One” is, “a time to claim mental health” and “get in touch with what you really need.” From the first beats of “Trust” it’s clear that this album is a brilliant, sonic achievement. It should go without saying, but good microphones really do go a long way to creating a successful song. The next track, “Hostile,” is about how divorce can affect families and especially children, “He’s growing up the same as his dad, without a doubt his attitude’s bad.” The cross-pollinated Chuck D samples (from “Fear Of A Black Planet” and “Anti-N***** Machine”) in the chorus of “Can’t Stand It” really heighten the message of equality, lending gravitas to this song.

“Stage Two” of Metamorphosis reminds us that, “Simply put, life changes constantly, continually,” so we must adapt to survive. “Since 79” is my favorite cut on the album, and it tells D. Rogale’s story of growing up during the birth of rap music. “Since the beginning of time when I first started to rhyme, I was just a young kid back in ’79.” As a historical note, the song “Kickin The Gift” from Powercore’s album also starts with a similar lyric. The most educational track on Metamorphosis is “No Drums Allowed,” which discusses how generations of kidnapped people from Africa were deprived of their culture and history upon arriving in America.

The album concludes with “Stage Three,” the final stage of Metamorphosis. “You will either progress or digress, it is in your hands,” D. Rogale tells us. This is a very unusual rap record, and it stands out due to its originality and bold confidence. The positive messages of empowerment have aged very well over the last thirty years, and I would advise any fan of Seattle rap to seek out this unique CD. Written by Novocaine132

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Takin Over

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 DCP Organization

The DCP (Deff City Posse) Organization were a huge crew of MCs that came together with Wojack and Eugenius, two artists who are perhaps best known for their group Criminal Nation. DCP members included Bumpy, Clee Bone, D-Rob, D-Wiz, The A, and K-Luv, plus Zell Dogg and The Bom performing as N***** From The Boneyard. Some of these artists had appeared on the posse cut “The Bum Rush” on Criminal Nation’s Trouble In The Hood album. The DCP Organization dropped this self-titled compilation of sorts in 1993, executive produced by Brett Carlson for Cold Rock Recordings.

Wojack and Eugenius perform four tracks together, “You Can’t F*** With The Criminal,” “You Don’t Know Me,” “Something 4 Your Trunk,” and “Stretcher.” My personal favorite of the four, “Something 4 Your Trunk” was also featured on the Crooked Path After Dark reissue which appeared on Southwest Enterprise in 2021.

Gangsta cut “N***** From The Boneyard” by Zell Dogg and The Bom flips the Tom Tom Club “Genius Of Love” beat, which is a perennial hip-hop staple. “How can you talk if your mouth’s on my glock?” the group asks. The laid back “Smooth Night” features The A, Clee Bone, and D-Rob. “Shall I go farther? As long as I’m alive, cemeteries gonna get larger,” mourns one of the MCs in a moment of self reflection. “Nothing But A Come Up” features a groovy Parliament “Give Up The Funk” chorus and solid verses from the MCs. For example, “Coming up is a must, but on the ‘Hilltop’ who the f*** can you trust?”

Approximately three years after The DCP Organization came out, DJ Eugenius and the Homegrown Klik dropped The Album Volume One on compact disc in 1996. The following year saw the release of Wojack’s street classic Where Ya Goin Wo? on all three formats, vinyl, CD and cassette. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, The DCP Organization was digitally re-released on Bandcamp in 2013. Tacoma is in the house! Written by Novocaine132

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Drop Top

When Sir Mix-A-Lot and his business partner Ricardo Frazer left Nastymix, they established a new label called Rhyme Cartel. According to Discogs, the first release on Rhyme Cartel was the lead single to Mix-A-Lot’s third album Mack Daddy, a track called “One Time’s Got No Case.” Throughout 1992, the label released titles by Mix-A-Lot, but Ricardo and Mix wanted to grow the business. They began to look for new artists, and E-Dawg was one of the first signees to join. E-Dawg wrote two songs which appeared on the Seattle… The Dark Side compilation, and those same two cuts, “Drop Top” and “Little Locs” were also released as a twelve-inch single.

A-side “Drop Top,” featuring smooth-voiced rapper Filthy Rich, is a local classic, and could be heard everywhere in ’93. Verse one sees E-Dawg talking about an average day, and what it’s like driving around the hood in his convertible. Filthy Rich raps verse two, and also sets the mood at the start of the track, “Just kickin it, got the dank, got the drank, got the bank, and it’s all good.” A slick video for “Drop Top” was produced for BET and MTV audiences, helping the track gain exposure.

The B side is “Little Locs.” It starts with the sound of a gunshot and proceeds with E-Dawg proving his gangsta bona fides. “I know two roads to life, the straight and the crooked, the crooked road is in the O, so I took it,” he raps, highlighting his connection to Oakland, California. Both “Drop Top” and “Little Locs” were produced by Eugenius from Homegrown and Criminal Nation.

In a 1993 interview with Billy Jam available on Youtube, E-Dawg talks about his plans for putting out a record in ’94 on “Def American,” then he remembers that Rick Rubin has stricken “Def” from the name and corrects himself. But that E-Dawg album on American never arrived. Years later, he released two albums, Platinum in 1999 for Spot Entertainment, and How Long in 2010 which was released on Hard Road. After putting out E-Dawg, Rhyme Cartel went on to release music by singer/spoken word artist Jazz Lee Alston, electronic artist Kia, and rap/rock act Outtasite. Written by Novocaine132

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Krakker Bashin

N.W.A.’s 1988 record Straight Outta Compton changed the world, and in 1991 they came back even harder with their second and final album Efil4zaggin. Rolling Stone writer Jonathan Gold penned a good piece in 1993 noting that Efil4zaggin was clearly in a class of its own due to being a sonic masterpiece, yet the awful, violent, homophobic, and misogynistic content had become exponentially worse. “Many observers thought gangsta rap had reached its pinnacle with the brilliant though unlistenable Efil4zaggin,” begins one of my favorite sentences in the essay. N.W.A. were not alone in this genre, indeed they were joined by other horrorcore groups like Geto Boys, Gravediggaz, Brotha Lynch Hung, and Seattle’s Darkset.

Darkset was a crew composed of first generation Seattle hip-hop artists who had been there since the beginning. John “Frostmaster Chill” Funches and his brother Anthony “DJ Pace” Funches had both become involved in rap music as soon as it was a thing. Shedra “I Double L” Manning from the Strictly Wicked And Treacherous crew was another heavy hitter MC who joined. And for additional royalty, Eddie “Sugar Bear” Wells from Emerald Street Boys was also part of Darkset, changing his name to MC Bear The Kodiac. Fifth member Shan Dog was a hype man for the group. Additionally, Kevin Gardner provided studio and recording expertise, as well as beat work.

Placed among the more explicit tracks on Krakker Bashin that will never make the radio, “50 Wayz” (featuring Bryan Hatfield), “Police B****,” “Krakker Bashin,” “Dope Man’s B****,” and others, there are two tracks I would like to highlight, “Step To The Madness,” and “The Rain.” First, “Step To The Madness” is a thing of beauty in a somewhat unforgiving listening landscape. The beat sounds minimal compared to the ‘wall of sound’ production style found on so many tracks here. And second, epic cinematic journey “The Rain” is more of an experience than just a song. Absurdly it’s six minutes and forty-four seconds long, but due to some Chris Nolan-esque creative composition and structure, including moments of dead silence, “The Rain” remains interesting from start to finish.

Darkset could be called the most old-school connected Seattle rap group in the ’90s. In fact, Krakker Bashin was executive produced by none other than James “Captain Crunch” Croone, another member of Emerald Street Boys. The new label was called CD Raised Records, and two years later it would drop a hood classic titled Really Cheat’n by Squeek Nutty Bug. Jonathan Gold might also find Krakker Bashin “brilliant though unlistenable,” but its explicit elements shouldn’t prevent people from making their own opinions. This is a powerful album and it will not appeal to everybody, but freedom of speech protects the right of Darkset to shock and offend. Written by Novocaine132

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Monologs And Soliloquys For Your Mom

Tribal Productions was a collective of rappers and DJs who came together in the late 1980s and early 1990s in Seattle. They were a diverse crew with street-influenced acts like Narcotik positioned alongside more backpack-style groups like Union Of Opposites. Four members of Tribal formed a group called Ghetto Chilldren: Vitamin D, B-Self, Culture, and Capabilities. The group’s first release was a four-song cassette called Monologs And Soliloquys. Ghetto Chilldren caused a huge buzz with this release. It established the Tribal sound, which was dusty yet hard drums mixed with acutely chosen jazzy samples. Where businessmen like Puffy were taking top 40 hits and remaking them into rap karaoke, real artists like Premier, Pete Rock, and Vitamin D were looking for obscure arrangements and turning them into new melodies. Monologs & Soliloquys is a stellar example of a paradigm shift in Seattle rap, a quantum leap of creativity.

The first song is titled “Odd Ball Sindrome,” and it introduced Ghetto Chilldren as outsiders to the mainstream rap culture. They were more like sketch comedians at times, with little snippets of samples and dialog before and after the tracks. “BBQ Sause & The Stank Nasty” is the second song. In this lighthearted track, the crew shares stories of trying to meet girls at barbecues. It succeeds on a number of levels, capturing the wildness of youth and the “anything can happen” feeling of long summer nights.

“Questions” begins side B with a long intro featuring Vitamin’s younger brother bugging him while he tries to work on the track. By side B it’s evident that clever wordplay was the currency of the group. It’s thesaurus rap but wait, it’s not about just showing off SAT vocab like Jack Harlow in an SNL NFT rap, but more about using language artistically in a way that it has never been used before. The lyrics are never cute or overbearing, rather the verses leave you with a feeling of brain tickle. I don’t know how else to describe it. The last song “20 Bucks” is all about the value of money to someone in high school. This might be my favorite beat of the four, it’s extremely catchy.

All in all, this tape is valuable as a snapshot of the four-member lineup of the group. By their next releases on Untranslated Prescriptions and Do The Math, the group had slimmed to just Vitamin D and B-Self performing as a duo. Ghetto Chilldren in any configuration is a foundational group in Seattle hip hop. This tape allows the listener to hear them take their first unsteady steps, and it’s magic each time you play it! (Written by Novocaine132.)

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Brother From The Projects

This is a rare one. Seattle rapper MC Class released this classic NW tape back in ’93. Recorded at Shoreline Community College just north of Seattle (and where I went to school for audio engineering), these six songs evoke hip-hop’s golden age. Guest emcee Legacy shows up on one track and Supreme supports with beats on at least a few of these tracks. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

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I can vividly remember the first night I ever heard Elevators. It was way back in ’94, and a couple of dudes I knew and I were crammed into my crappy-ass lowrider, parked at the beach, blitzed out of our minds on some heavy shit. The stereo was on, and Digable Planets’ Blowout Comb had just flipped over in the tape deck back to side 1.

This night would have been memorable just for that: my first listen to that perfect record, which is still one of my all-time favorites.

But what really did it for me was what came next: My man said “Hey, have you heard Elevators?” I mumbled something negatory, at which point Blowout was immediately and unceremoniously ejected in favor of a quiet little home-recorded cassette that has shaped the face of Northwest hip-hop to this day.

For being released in 1993, this tape was on the next level. The beats were rough and low-fi, and the vocals were quiet but confidently conscious. The buzz at the time is that Elevators were Seattle’s answer to Gang Starr, but they were something more as well: They effectively moved Seattle forward beyond the 808-heavy party tracks of Sir Mix-A-Lot, and laid the groundwork that eventually put Seattle on the underground hip-hop map.

From the quietly jazzy and lyrically substantial aesthetic later employed by Tribal and Source of Labor, and beyond to the indie sound of Blue Scholars and Common Market, Elevators’ influence is unmistakable, so give Specs One and E-Sharp a serious head nod for sculpting the sound of the Northwest.

Specs One aka Specswizard aka M See Eye Shock has gone on to be one of the most creative and long-lasting characters in the 206 hip-hop firmament; as an emcee, visual artist, and producer. If you look, he’s literally everywhere. Not to be slept on! (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

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Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space)

According to the excellent podcast “Fresh Off The Spaceship” hosted by Larry Mizell Jr. and Martin Douglas, rapper Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler spent his youth splitting time between New York and Seattle. He graduated high school at Garfield and then moved to New York City, landing an internship at Sleeping Bag Records. In 1992, his trio called Digable Planets put out a viral single called “Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” which immediately climbed the Billboard charts. By ’93 Digable dropped a debut album, and the group would go on to win a Best Rap Performance Grammy in 1994. Go to KEXP.org to hear this interview with Ishmael, and be sure to check out the entire “Fresh Off The Spaceship” series!

That 1993 debut album was called Reachin’ (A New Refutation Of Time And Space), and it was huge all over the world. Music gatekeeper Pitchfork put it this way, “They personify the balance they promote. It’s an album that questions the very fabric of our existence while celebrating its nuances. As Digable Planets refute the boundaries of their continuum, their imagined cosmology creates a jazzy, spatial anomaly full of sonic wonders and game theory.” In 2017, Rolling Stone celebrated the 25th anniversary of “Rebirth Of Slick,” writing that, “Reachin’ offered a revolutionary spin on hip-hop, smoothing out the genre’s hard edges with a sound that relied heavily on jazz samples and intricate lyricism that drew heavily from literature and revolutionary politics.”

The first lines of “Rebirth Of Slick” go like this, “We like the breeze flow straight out of our lids/Them they got moved by these hard rock Brooklyn kids.” Track two “Pacifics” begins with, “Who Me? I’m coolin in New York, chillin in New York,” and the chorus is based on a “New York is red hot” sample. The track “Where I’m From” has lyrics like, “We be reading Marx where I’m from/The kids be rockin’ Clarks where I’m from/You turn around your cap, you talk over a beat/And dig some sounds boomin’ out a jeep.” As a Seattle rap listener at the time, I was sure that “Where I’m From” and “Rebirth Of Slick” were love letters to Brooklyn. I always thought of Reachin’ as a New York record, and Digable as a New York group, period. But as Ishmael returned to Seattle, joining groups Cherrywine and then Shabazz Palaces, he reestablished his Seattle residency and identity. I am finally beginning to understand how some could see Reachin’ as a ‘Northwest’ hip-hop album. I’m sure that Ish will always have a dual love of both cities, and pontificators like me will have to resist assigning him to one or the other. At the end of “Where I’m From,” the answer is repeated over and over, “Everywhere, every-everywhere, everywhere, every-everywhere.” I guess Ish is from everywhere. Written by Novocaine132

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'90s Unreleased, Demos & Rare Tracks

Casual fans of Tribal Productions know about the collective’s famous 1996 rap compilation called Do The Math which now sells for hundreds of dollars on Discogs. More serious followers not only have Do The Math but also trade copies of Untranslated Prescriptions, the crew’s rare earlier compilation from 1995. But then we come to the third category of Tribal fan, the completist. Fellow Town Love writer Jack Devo fits into this third category, and he has written an excellent piece here about the obscure Tribal Productions release titled Freestyle Demo Tape which was uploaded to Bandcamp in 2013. Back 2 Da Source Records in Belgium has been releasing an incredible series of Tribal reissues on vinyl, including Narcotik’s classic album Intro To Da Central in 2018, and then Untranslated and Math in 2019. In 2021, Back 2 Da Source gave us another dose of that sweet Tribal goodness, this gatefold collection of a dozen early tracks called 90’s Unreleased, Demos & Rare Tracks by foundational Tribal group Ghetto Chilldren.

Ghetto Chilldren began as four members, Culture, Capabilities, B-Self, and Vitamin D. The four young musicians came together at a time when hip-hop was rediscovering its identity after several years of domination by gangster rap. Groups like De La Soul and Freestyle Fellowship were showing a blueprint for rap that dealt with complicated emotions caused by issues of identity, progress, and everyday life. Ghetto Chilldren rapped about their academic successes and failures, their attempts at meeting women, and fears about neighborhood violence. These topics were relatable to listeners, and the tracks were entertaining and educational. Ghetto Chilldren caught a huge buzz in Seattle, which led to attention from major labels. They got a demo deal from Geffen, but creative differences crashed that project and the group returned to Seattle.

90’s Unreleased, Demos & Rare Tracks proves the unparalleled skill of GC despite the extremely lo-fi sound. The songs were recorded at The Pharmacy studio, which at that time was Vitamin D’s basement bedroom. Vocals were recorded using a single Shure mic in the middle of the studio, with all the resulting hiss and background noise. If you listen closely you can catch snippets of voices or laughter from other people in the room. Even with the lo-fi setup, the tracks are masterpieces. The beat for “On The 1’s and 2’s” has a carefree, moon-gravity astronaut bounce, and don’t miss B-Self’s clever verse about avoiding gangbangers. “Detour To The Left” disarms with its inventive hook that bursts open like a flower in spring. But “Free Enterprise” featuring Narcotik is the star of the show. Found on a never-released Tribal project called Therapeutics, this track sounds sparkling and streamlined next to the earlier amateur material on this release. “Free Enterprise” is the dope theme song of Y2K and it exemplifies the unlimited potential of rap to create its own billion-dollar industry. Written by Novocaine132

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See Level 1991-1993 EP

In 1992 when Seattle rap supergroup Brothers Of The Same Mind broke up, the five members each went their separate ways. The following year, MC Class dropped a solo six-song cassette called Brother From The Projects and a vinyl 12-inch of “Hope You’re Listening” with “Fishin.” A label called Chopped Herring put out an MC Class EP called See Level in 2014, which revisits some of his best work.

First on the A-Side of the Chopped Herring release is “See Level.” This track sinks into a very visual ocean theme, the listener is fully submerged in the language. “Hope You’re Listening” from the 1993 12-inch is next. Born Supreme produced it and the drums are straight-up off the hook. The lyrics contain name checks of Boogie Down Productions and Public Enemy. After that is “Fishin,” which was also released in 1993. MC Class is one of the smoothest all-around rappers ever in Seattle. His voice is chilled like a bottle of sparkling water, yet still undercover gruff like a Kodiak bear. “Fishin” has that groovy “Jazzmatazz” magic, and the lyrics are full of metaphors about life lessons and trying to live with less daily stress. It is a good companion piece to “See Level”, because they are both about the ocean as a theater for our lives. “See Level Acapella” is the last track on Side A.

The B-Side starts with “Trippin,” found on Brother From The Projects. Just a hint of the Edie Brickell folk staple “What I Am” emerges softly through the beat. Class is once again getting philosophical about life, finding answers to the big questions. The piano-based melody is soft and light. Next, we have “Brother From The Projects,” an autobiographical song containing real events that Class went through, which makes it highly relatable. Then the B-side gives us two bonus tracks from pre-breakup Brothers Of The Same Mind. “Soul 2 The Rhythm” is one of the most energetic tracks from BOTSM, and the song was featured on the group’s self-titled 1991 cassette. The production is heavy like a construction site: Hard hats are required. The last track on Side B is “Step Up To The Mic” which is the previously unreleased BOTSM track here. “Step Up To The Mic” is a posse cut on which Tracy Armour and Dwayne Tasker join Brothers Of The Same Mind on the microphone. Lots of bars here, very dense concepts and lyrics to chew on.

Postscript: The Brothers got back together in 2021, and re-released their expanded album from 1991 titled Gotta Have Style on Dust and Dope Recordings. The group has plans for an upcoming release of new material recorded in 2021 and 2022. (Written by Novocaine132.)

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Seattle... The Dark Side

BOOM! Here it is. The best rap and R&B coming out of this dirty-white, rock ‘n’ roll lovin’ Emerald City. So says Mix-A-Lot, the biggest rap act out of this area for hundreds of miles. (And sadly, that’s straight up the truth.) He damn near promised us a sure-fire, kick in the ass, hit-to-hit collection by putting this LP out on his own label. (And that’s more proof for my earlier statement.)

BAM. I’ll be dipped in jeri curl juice! There’s some fresh and creative “dark” music being hidden away in this town somewhere. Mix, his new label Rhyme Cartel, and American Records (Rick Rubin dropped the “Def” part) have put out a rough and stylin’ nine-song selection. Not all of this compilation would be banned by the late KFOX playlist, though. There are some mainstream artists on this CD; a good third of it is mediocre at best. But that just makes the best stuff really shine.

My favorite cut is newcomer Jazz Lee Alston’s “Love…Never That.” It sent shivers down my spine. This is probably the best example of how dark it can get in a young adult’s mind. It’s an abstract tale of a female struggling to deal with an abusive boyfriend and the father of her child. It’s delivered in a slow, deliberate spoken-word fashion to a shuffling jazz tempo and haunting keyboard samples — a style few female rappers have dared to try.

I’m a sucker for ’70s soul samples. Two songs, in particular, bent my ear for a funfilled tour to back when. Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Sunshine” and Con Funk Shun’s “By Your Side” make for instant grooving on Jay Skee’s “Menace Crook” and Kid Sensation’s “Flava You Can Taste,” respectively.

Not all of the cuts rely on trips to yesteryear. E-Dawg’s “Little Locs” brings this LP back to the ’90s in a big way, using production skills that have had city streets cracking all over the US.

Two of the artists didn’t get their start in Seattle. Jay-Skee is from the LA area and Jazz Lee Alston is from New York City. So is Seattle really putting out new good rap acts? Or are they coming to this area to make it big?

I’m serious! This area has more major label scouts sniffing around than espresso carts on its corners. It is probably easier to count the numbers who are actually from Seattle. This album could be a swan song for most of these acts, or it could be just the beginning of some good, dark music for the future. (This review originally appeared in The Rocket and was written by Scott Griggs.)

Here’s another take:

Times change. This comp dropped in 1993, which to me was the year of the Great Upheaval in Northwest hip-hop. At that time, gangsta had outlived its welcome and new acts like Heiro and the Pharcyde were grabbing the attention. Local artists like Mix-A-Lot and Kid Sensation had lost their cool and had become the stuff of middle school dances, so by the time I heard about this album, my ears were closed.

I was in high school, the future underground was in full swing, and local acts like the Elevators and Tribal had quite effectively turned the early-’90s gangsta and R&B industry into a joke.

Though I did not appreciate this record at the time, listening to it in retrospect, I can hear the value in it. Here is some top-quality hip-hop attempting to assert itself in the face of change, And more poignantly, this is a declaration from Seattle’s Afro-American community and a group of artists who were very much left out of the anglicized Northwest music explosion of the early ’90s (AKA GRUNGE).

Dark Side is a short record. But its 35 minutes effectively showcases an important time in the 206’s long history of hip-hop. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

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