A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Saiyan of Earth

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

In Tha Name Of Game

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Progress...

Changing gears a little bit, this is a fine example of some turn-of-the-century Northwest hip-hop. I got this album from one of the band members outside the Paradox theater in the U-District, back in 2001. That was an incredible night; Slug, Idea, and Abilities were headlining, but what stole the show for me was the huge MC battle that preceded them. The winners: Bishop I from Oldominion tied with Surge (not Surge Spittable, just Surge – where are you now?). Amazing. Anyhow, This post isn’t about Surge, or Bishop I, or Oldominion – this is about that CD I picked up that night: Progress… by Elevated Elements. They were part of a huge crew in the Seattle area known as NAPS. Elevated consisted of Lace Cadence, Exakt, Patrick, FingerPrints, and Macklemore (yes, that Macklemore). The CD is surprisingly good, and well worth the money. I still play it now and again. It’s right here on my iPod. Give it a listen – tracklisting in the package, 21 dope tracks deep. All in all, I’d say it was a good night. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Sykotherapy

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

I Want All That

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

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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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Finally

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Kash Me Out

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Sun To A Recycled Soul

As far as I know this is Gabriel Teodros’s debut, and it’s definitely rougher than his later records. He’s still developing his flow here, but the fire, eloquence, and themes he’s known for are already in place. It’s got that old-school, jazz sample-heavy flavor I love, and the rough, unmastered sound quality I crave in production. Jerm, Castro, and Khingz, among others, guest. It was re-released a second time with a whole bunch of additional guest emcees (Orko, Macklemore, Moka Only, Deps, Patrick, Rajnii). Vivacious music, from possibly the 206’s most impassioned orator. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Uncle Dick

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

The Revival

Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. For example, check this great live document I slept on. The group is Seattle’s Beyond Reality, playing a hype show from way back in April 2001.

Back then, Source of Labor’s Wordsayer (also the business and romantic partner of Beyond Reality’s Kylea) used to put on a weekly hip-hop workshop and jam session at the local live venue Sit n’ Spin, called Sureshot Sundays. Every Sunday afternoon, the local hip-hop community would congregate at the cafe/club/laundromat(!) to spin, break, emcee, and just get together.

Being the shut-in hermit that I am, I regrettably never attended, although I used to try to screw up my courage every Sunday to head on down the hill from my apartment to the Belltown spot to get my muddy-ass beat tape heard.

However, since I was just starting out I felt like I’d be in over my head amidst all the “true” hip-hoppers…. like I said earlier about hindsight…

In any case, Sureshot Sundays closed up shop probably a decade ago now, but this release is a snapshot of what it must have been like. Kylea is joined on the decks by Topspin and Kamikaze, and Wordsayer joins on the mic here and there. Incredibly live and overflowing with solidarity and positivity (not to mention the stellar flows of Kylea), this album just makes me regret more not getting my burned-out ass down the hill to the Sit n’ Spin to be a part of it all. It’s a dope record, full of tracks never released otherwise, in professional sound quality.

Beyond Reality was supposedly set to drop a studio record in 2001, and as far as I know that never actually happened. Apart from a few early singles and compilation cuts, and the 2008 A Soul’s Journey CD, this is as close as you get to the classic BR sound. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Amelation

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Poetic Epidemic

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Circumstance Dictates

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

UA

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Keep It Gangsta

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Alone

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Mi Vida Negra

Here’s the out-of-print debut solo effort from Maroon Colony’s Khalil Crisis, now known as Khingz. Dropping in 2001, it catches Khalil at a unique crossroads. Known these days for releasing one of the illest albums in 206 hip-hop history–the soul-bearing, tell-it-like-it-is exercise in self-actualization known as From Slaveships to Spaceships–this record paints a picture of a young man with one foot still in his violent, gang-land past as an adolescent; and the other just embarking on his personal transformation to becoming a conscientious and honorable man.

Indeed, “Khalil Crisis” is an apt moniker here, as it presents the duality of this record: The struggle between the intellectual and the thug over one man’s identity. And it’s rare when a record has portrayed such a confused individual. With equal amounts, he passionately condemns the violence surrounding him, and gleefully takes part in it. He fights for feminism while at the same time using the standard tropes used to degrade women. He acts like a hood and relates it like a poet.

Sonically, the album is much different from the new-school vibe of his later releases. With always-gorgeous, mellow production by Vitamin D, the record sounds beautiful, yet is oftentimes at odds with Khalil’s violent and impassioned lyricism. However, this just adds to the overall mystique surrounding the record, as it mirrors the opposing forces at the heart of Khalil himself. When taken alone, the album, despite these two master craftsmen at the helm, can only be a flawed one. There are just too many instances where the music misses the emotional mark, or where the lyrics are just too paradoxical. However, when taken in as the beginning of a long and varied transformation culminating with 2009’s Spaceships, it’s a fascinating document that should be considered the first chapter in an incredible story. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Venom

Onry Ozzborn released this Venom EP shortly before his explosive solo album Alone. I’m not the biggest authority on Oldominion, so I can’t tell you too much background info except that this is one of my favorites from the Seattle/Portland massive. For those that don’t know Oldominion, their dark, brooding vibe has been dubbed “the Northwest Sound” by some. The title track, featuring Toni Hill, Snafu, Nyquil, Anaxagorous, and Ezra, is a smooth, atmospheric near-masterpiece courtesy of beat-man Pale Soul. “Immortal” and “Daredevils” are two tracks that I feel are fine examples of the Oldominion sound (angry, desolate imagery; references to grunge and metal bands), and “Lights Out” (featuring Sole of Anticon) is a classic from the dark underground. It’s a perfect record for December in the Northwest. Six tracks altogether (Four vox and two inst). (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

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