A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Funk U Right On Up

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!

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

As far as Eye can See

One of the earliest modern usages of the word ‘woke’ came in a 1962 New York Times article titled “Phrases And Words You Might Hear Today In Harlem.” Now in 2021, the word has developed to mean essentially alertness to racial or social injustice.

In 1994 Seattle poet and rap artist Spyc-E released her first album titled As far as Eye can See. This album is a collection of the most woke ideas from across the spectrum. It succeeds as a proto-dissertation on gender studies, power dynamics, racial hegemony, and a host of other issues. Spyc-E was very young when she put this album together, and she displays a student’s curiosity for history and explanations.

As far as Eye can See is a groundbreaking work of intersectional art, and Spyc-E candidly raps about her experience as a woman, a person of color, a revolutionary, a hip-hop artist, and a multitude of others. Tracks from talented producer Greg Fields perfectly accentuate her lyrics, and together they came up with a rap sound that was new to Seattle.

Spyc-E raps in a hurry-up-slow-down cycle, suddenly blasting words at a million miles per hour, and then pausing with barely a whisper, before rapping some more. Words pile up, tied with strings in express mail bundles. The density of this release cannot be overstated. One primary lyrical topic here is how 400 years of slavery created a stamp on America that generations have struggled to erode. She wants people to take power over their destinies by knowing who they are inside. Her vocal dexterity could easily be compared to the legendary E-40, whose dips and dives make his raps so much more layered with emphasis. Many of the tracks on As far as Eye can See take a big-picture look at social and political issues from 30,000 feet. In “And We Mad” she prophetically raps, “dissatisfaction leads to social action,” and we just have to look at the unrest in 2020 to see that this is true. This release should be considered among the top hip-hop albums in 1990’s Seattle. (Written by Novocaine132.)

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Seatown Funk

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!

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Procreations

There was a time in the mid ’80s when I loved rap like life itself because it was exuberant and out-of-control and made me wanna swagger down the street kissing boys I didn’t know (in my mind only, understand). But later on, rappers started getting cooler and cooler, and I fuckin’ hate cool people. They’re always telling the rest of us to mellow out and stop embarrassing them.

I liked Six in the Clip, though. They were a local, racially mixed crew of screwballs whose snotty rhymes could inspire entire roomfuls of jaded rockers to…actually move.

Now they’re called Prose and Concepts and they are serious. Uh oh…

Gone is the uneven feel of Six in the Clip; now all these guys rap like pros. Like most rappers who “get serious,” they’ve laid back a bit, but not everyone will see that as a problem. The DJ is superb, the samples understated-no real show-offy stuff, except in the lyrics, which are mainly the old school type raps about how great the rappers are, with some nonsense rhymes that sound good thrown in (“Knick knack paddy whack, give the fools a Prozac”). That’s all fine by me; I don’t need to hear any more about big butts or big guns for a while.

My fave here is the insanely catchy “P,” which is about pee. It’s one of the only moments on the album when the guys seem to really cut loose and have some fun. In fact, some of the songs have an almost sinister undercurrent to them; sampled minor chords throb hypnotically behind droning rhymes.

This is an impressive enough first effort, but now that these guys have proved they can rap, maybe they’ll go all out and throw us a party again. (This review originally appeared in The Rocket and was written by Dawn Anderson.)

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Untranslated Prescriptions

Untranslated Prescriptions is the original Tribal Music tape, released on Maxell cassette back in ’95 and re-issued on vinyl in 2019. Tribal Music was a small Seattle record label masterminded by Vitamin D and Topspin that put out cassettes, a few 12-inches, a couple of CDs, and then called it a day. But what was put out was absolute quality. Featuring nothing but local talent, the music was easily the equal of any of their peers at the time, but unlike Heiro, Solesides, and the Goodlifers (the most comparable crews in my opinion), the majority of the Tribal cats never made a splash outside their home town.

Back in high school some friends of mine who were cooler than me somehow heard about this and trekked out to Music Menu in Rainier Beach to pick this shit up. I remember hearing this tape over and over again with those guys, but I never actually got my hands on it to dub it. I never even knew the name of it – everyone just called it “the Tribal comp.” After getting the vinyl reissue, I went apeshit. I never had any hopes that I would ever hear this tape again, and listening to it now brings back some excellently hazy memories for me. This was the beginning of my appreciation for Northwest hip-hop. Phat Mob, Ghetto Chilldren, Sinsemilla – to me, it really gets no better than this. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Is Tha Source

Maybe it’s the influence of Gifted Gab’s murderous new masterpiece, Cause & Effect, that’s resulted in my listening to a lot of Seattle G-Funk and Gangsta classics lately. Here’s Is Tha Source by Funk Daddy, released in 1995. Funk has been releasing new music for over 30 years: He produced the eagerly-anticipated 2019 The Mixtape Vol. 2 from Maribased1. At the other end of his timeline, in the ‘80s, he was Greg B from Ready-N-Willin’ and also Kid Sensation’s DJ. Fascinated with Sir Mix-A-Lot’s production prowess, he obtained Mix’s old equipment, but soon realized it’s the player and not the gear, and developed his own unique sound. Listen for that delightful, rubbery, squashy bass and the tickling, squishy highs. (His track “Yo Flow” is golden honey.) Multitalented, he’s also famously won most any DJ, MC, or beat battle he’s been in and was one of the members of hip-hop group Crooked Path. Oh, and in 1995 he produced a bunch of E-40’s platinum-selling record In A Major Way. It was that same year that Funk Daddy dropped this debut CD, a relaxed 15-track romp through Seattle summer. In the lyrics, he’s aware of his baller resume but humble to his roots. (Okay, and yeah, there’s also “Fu?K,” a song about how big his “meat” is.) “When I hit the club, it’s on V.I.P. status…” he raps on “Streets of S.E.A.” while later stating that “The day I can’t roll through the CD… is the day I let my own hood beat me.” There are several hometown anthems here, including the aforementioned “Streets” and creeper “Rainy Day Hustle” that argues for reparations “since I’m from Seattle where it rains all the time.” Funk Daddy—thank you for your long service to the Seattle music scene. Everybody else—This record is on Spotify, so go crank it loud today.

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Really Cheat'n

Here are some car-stereo-shaking Central District tales of murder, violence, romance, and good weed: Released in 1995, Really Cheat’n from Squeek Nutty Bug is grooving G-Funk at its finest.

After spending his early years in the Midwest—and in jail—Squeek made a big splash on the Seattle scene in the mid-‘90s, named so because of his distinctive high-pitched vocal delivery. He released a catchy first single called “ILL HETCHA HY”—you should sound this out. The song also appears on this full-length, this all-too-short, nine-track Really Cheat’n. The whole album is funky hop fantastic with live instrumentation courtesy of producer Ryan “RC” Croone, who, after this project, launched a production empire. Together, he and Squeek are bringing that “hydroponic do-do-funk type shit” as he says in the opener. Squeek himself saw his verses as education, once saying to the Seattle Times, “I’m takin’ hip-hop to the vegetables and the vitamins.” The closing track “Outro” is almost three full minutes of thanks to town talent and favorites delivered in a most amusing style. Overall, this is a hella fun record, reminiscent at times of Gifted Gab, who’s one of the main players who turned me onto it. Really Cheat’n was also one of the first releases from CD Raised Records, a Central District record label started by Captain Crunch, a member of the once mythological Seattle hip-hop group the Emerald Street Boys, and father of D.Black/Nissim. That fact, plus one that Squeek was a headliner on Nasty Nes’s “Best of Northwest Hip-Hop” stage at Folklife Fest that year, connects this record to a host of this town’s amazing first generation of hip-hop legends. Dee.aLe from DMS is featured, as are Young K, Lil Mafia (AKA Skuntdunanna), ROK, BG Bari, & Kevin Gardner.

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Intro To Da Central

One night at the Coolin’ at Havana, Porter Ray and I got to talking about 1995’s Intro To Da Central by Narcotik. He was saying how important it was as a kid that instead of hearing raps about Brooklyn or The Bronx or L.A., he was hearing rhymes about the Central District, in Seattle, where he lived, and that hearing this record was a big inspiration for him and his career. Narcotik were the rap duo of Tizzy T (R.I.P.) and MC C-Note aka The Notework. Intro To Da Central was originally released on cassette by Tribal Productions and was produced by Vitamin D and Topspin: There’s much magic at work in the wide stereo space, the left-right interplay, beats set to the back, the guitars, the long outros, all relaxed and hella charming. Musically, this one’s an ear-tickling journey. There’s often some slightly odd looping sample buried in the mix that it takes you a while to notice—like a door hinge—but when you do, it makes you laugh. When this record spins, let me say, the couch is very comfortable. Back in the mid-‘90s, in The Rocket, Payton Carter described Intro as having that “laid-back, West Coast, 40 and a blunt, Infinite Tribal feel, along with mad lyrics,” while in early ‘90s hip-hop rag The Flavor, Strath Shepard said, “their metaphors and creative name-checks flip the norm and keep you listening for what’s next.” The standout single, “All Up In My Mix,” features rapper Infinite and also appeared on the legendary 14 Fathoms Deep compilation. Intro’s original cassettes have become so rare as to be mythical. Beetbak’s Jack Devo called it “the most criminally hard-to-find record to ever come out of the Northwest.” So it’s great that this classic was recently remastered and reissued on vinyl and CD by Belgium-based Back2DaSourcerecords in very limited quantities. You can also grab it digitally on Bandcamp, and I strongly urge you to do so.

Here’s another take:

Back in 1995, when Intro To Da Central was first released, Strath Shepard reviewed it in The Flavor magazine:

Add Narcotik to the list of Seattle area artists who, with the right scheme and exposure, have the skills needed to blow up on a national level. With M.C.s who show multiple influences and versatile production which transcends traditional divisions, Into To Da Central carries appeal for all types of hip-hop listeners.

If you aren’t already familiar with Narcotik through the many shows they’ve played in Seattle, the due is kind of on some traditional West Coast type shit. But what makes them more interesting is that they actually have a lot to say, and they do it in creative ways. One of the things that has separated the East and West in hip-hop is the East’s misconception that all g’s from the West Coast “talk and talk, but ain’t sayin’ nothin’.” Once you get past Intro’s intro, it quickly becomes apparent that this just isn’t true. Narcotik may cover the usual topics, but their metaphors and creative name-checks flip the norm and keep you listening for what’s next.

On the production end of things, Vitamin D and Topspin prove (once again) how twisted and wrong it is that the rest of the country sleeps on Seattle. “All Da Time” offers that signature sentimental sound Vitamin D is known for, while “Crushin’ Crooz” and “Rap Styles Vary” show that he’s not confined to one style. Topspin’s track for “Urlin’ In Da Mornin’” incorporates an unexpected but tight-fitting snare with a smooth backing loop, and ties for my favorite cut along with “All Da Time.” Vitamin D and Topspin co-produce on “Intro To Da Central,” which features Infinite on the mic along with Narcotik. Though the title is strictly Seattle, the album will bob heads across the country.

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!