A film about Northwest hip-hop from

2003

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Crown Royale

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Daddy's Home

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Tale Of The Tape

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

&

Here

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Industreets

Here’s some forgotten greatness from the Northwest: Cyphalliance, a group of emcees, producers, and deejays spearheaded by Khazma 247, also known as the one and only Khazm. This was a relatively early project he and his MAD Krew was involved in (2003). Executive produced by 247 and Nosirrom, many of the tracks also give Khazm a producer and emcee credit as well.

Stylistically this is some high-energy, youthful consciousness mixed with a healthy dose of battle attitude. It’s some refreshingly energetic left coast music in the same vein as JKC or EX2, except that it’s so obviously from the 206.

The grayness that permeates so much of the tonality of Northwest music (both hip-hop and otherwise) is truly in effect here. The cover sums the music up perfectly – a group of young men standing in front of a cloudy sky backdrop, as seen in the reflection of a rain puddle in a drab parking lot. Perseverance in the face of the mundane. I was next to ecstatic when I found this long out-of-print chapter in Northwest hip-hop history, and I hope you enjoy it at least a tiny bit as much as I do. (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

No Good

Seattle hip-hop renaissance man Vitamin D put out this lone 12″ on Rhymesayers back in 2003. Handling beats, rhymes, and scratches, Vita brought an updated sound to his murky, stoned production work that was Tribal’s signature. Cleaned up and jazzy, with thinly sliced guitar samples, vintage dialogue, and spare percussion, this release takes a few steps towards Madlib’s sonic territory. The title track is all Vita, while the B-Side, “Touch Da Sky” has a guest appearance by Sinsemilla’s H-Bomb. The bonus joint, “Enstramental”, is produced by Jake One. This 12″ was to be the leadoff in Vita’s illustrious career on Rhymesayers, but unfortunately, nothing more came of it. Their loss. I believe other tracks from these sessions eventually surfaced on his free Bornday EP from 2010. (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

The Streetz Iz Enough

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

U Gets Tha Boots!

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

The Paradyme

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

The Merchandice

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Hollow Point Lyrics

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Polarity

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Reigncraft, Volume 1: The Resources

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

We're Back Seattle!

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Seattle Rain, Vol. 2

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Piece

If rap is “the CNN of the streets” as Chuck D famously described it, then Laura “Piece” Kelley is an award-winning, prime-time news anchor. Her 2003 debut album titled Piece contains instructions on how to survive in the complicated 21st century United States. The album includes themes of race, class, drugs, and gender. No subject is taboo for Piece, she is fearless like a psychotherapist, and her lyrics prove that although some topics are difficult to breach, healing can only come by confronting society’s demons. A good example of this technique is found in “Gray,” which is one of the three acapella tracks on the album. In “Gray,” Piece combines raw slurs and coded phrases that have been used to drive division and represent racial conflict in America, but then she amazingly patches these awful words together into a quilt of unity and understanding.

Laura “Piece” Kelley is not slowed by her twin goals on this album of rap to a beat and traditional poetry. By surrounding her rap work with orchestral production and singing, she avoids the trap of dull beats. In fact, the whole album is a fight against average rap. By focusing on the creative and the positive, she successfully indicts the persistent clone world of gangsters, players, and pimps without a verdict or even a trial. In the track “Endless Cleansing” she gives the listener simple tools for inner strength, “When life is a test there is hope for a lesson/What would we learn if we chose not to question?” There are little jewels like that hidden in plain sight throughout this remarkable album. “Caution” is another track that delivers this therapeutic quality. The chorus hypnotically repeats “If you believe it/Then you should be it and live it/Or leave it be.” What seems like a simple tongue-twister or play on words is actually a profound mantra about having integrity in everything we do.

Piece is a dense masterwork of hip-hop culture. The half-dozen different producers all bring heat and you won’t find any duds. “Cornerstone” has no production, but there is a beatbox performance that creates a live cipher vibe. I love the honesty of Kelley’s delivery and how she can say so much with so few words. In “Cornerstone” the line “Hip hop is colossal/Commercial is awful” makes me nod every time I hear it. (Someone should scratch that up DJ Premier style and make it the chorus of their own track.) She turns phrases and words like a magician, as she puts it, “Instant Aristotle in a bottle.” This album propelled Piece to great heights, earning her a spot on the Def Poetry Jam tour in 2005 at which she performed perhaps her best-known acapella track “Central District” at venues around the country. This track is indescribable and must be heard to be experienced; a rap with no beat begins with verses about her personal history of survival, moves on to discuss Seattle gentrification, and builds to a climax of words, rhymes, and breath. Piece is one of the best rappers out of Seattle, hands down. (Written by Novocaine132.)

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

The Natural

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Champagne Wishes Kaviar Dreams

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

The Coldest Winter

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

The Sport-N-Life Compilation Vol. 1

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

The Grey Area

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Sirens Echo

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

If We Try

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

All In A Day's Work

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Twice As Nice

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Love Walked Past Remixed

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Danger In Your Eyes

This is 2003’s Danger in Your Eyes EP by Seattle hip-hop group Sharpshooters. They were active for ten years, from the mid-90s to the mid-00s. The duo was made up of Supreme La Rock and DJ Sureshot. This particular EP has them going head-to-head with dueling remixes. Supreme’s side is pounded with a four-to-the-floor bass kick. It’s spare—just that and vocals from Christina Honeycut in a reverb-filled room. Sureshot’s interpretation shifts focus to a spritely snare drum and upbeat snap. DJ scratches add extra texture. The two mixes are similar enough that you keep wanting to flip the record over again to compare them further.

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Bright Black

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Sippin' Music

Cancer Rising is two MC’s—Gatsby and Judas—and one DJ, Tiles One. Sippin’ Music is the group’s first album, and it is a strong effort with incredible range. The songs range from rowdy uptempo party jams like “Stop, Drop, Roll” and “Serious as…” to slower, more pensive tracks like “Fly Away” and “Who Woulda Thought.” Album highlights include “Sleight Of Hand,” which tackles the subject of political and military corruption, and the punchline-heavy head-nodder “Get A Hit.” The hidden masterpiece here is “IAM (Impressions And Memories),” with a beat that evokes the genius of J-Dilla, and lyrics which show a deep understanding of hip hop and rap’s fundamental ingredients. Sippin’ Music’s best quality is its ability to show off a new style on each track, no two songs sound the same. Cancer Rising introduced itself to Seattle with this record, and immediately cemented its status as one of the most relevant and creative acts to come from the 206. (Written by Novocaine132.)

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