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The Greatest Fuckin' Adventures of Bruce Illest... Streaks and Blurs and Shit

Mash Hall is at it again with a truly massive album. The title immediately requires an acronym: TGFAOBISABAS. And holy Toledo there are 28 tracks listed. This is a lot of music! I have separated it into categories, just so my brain can begin processing it.

One category of track on TGFAOBISABAS is hip-hop ’80s and ’90s classics reimagined into blesOne’s Mash Hall world. “Super High” is inspired by “I’m Your Pusher,” and “Mash Hall Hustler” is based on “New Jack Hustler,” both by Ice T. “Rid Of Her” will give you strong LL Cool J “I Need Love” vibes. “D-J-B-L-E-S-O-N-E” brings an English accent, not unlike that of Slick Rick. “Guns Yo” begins like a sped-up, party version of the classic Schooly D cut “Saturday Night,” with elements of “Love’s Gonna Getcha” by KRS One found later in the track. “Hit Em Up” is named after a very famous Tupac track. DJ blesOne clearly has a love for the luminaries of hip-hop and he is giving his own special form of tribute here on this album. He brings a humorous tilt to every song he approaches, an example being the whispery voice he employs to heightened comedic effect in “Rid Of Her.”

A second category of tracks on this tremendous collection is remixes of tracks from other sources. Five tracks from Mash Hall Love Family Thicker Than Blood are remixed on TGFAOBISABAS. The remix of “Bitch I Look Good” changes the mood from sneaky private investigator to something more ‘Mid-60’s British Invasion’ with organ on reverb. “Butterfly” gets a remix here that changes the melody from dark and dreary to more mysterious and clever. Considering the subject matter of the track, I would argue that the original version of “Butterfly” is more effective and achieves the fourth dimension. “Girls They Love Bruce Illest” appears in a much more relaxed, spacey version compared to the tighter original. “Stomp Em With The Jodeci Boots” is expanded while “Time’s Up” is presented stripped down with live drums. In addition to those five remixes, a very early track from the group’s first e.p. release in 2004 (Mash Hall) titled “Warning” is also remixed on TGFAOBISABAS. There’s even a track here from the third Cancer Rising album which blesOne had helped to produce.

But luckily it’s not all just Weird Al Yankovic-type parodies and remixes of previous Mash Hall tracks. A third category contains original compositions, and plenty of new material abounds here. TGFAOBISABAS gathers dialog samples from across pop culture and places them between the most psychedelic drum tracks. DJ blesOne began his quest in the ’90s to be the ultimate B-Boy. He is a turntablist with an ear for sounds that have never been crammed into a song before. Mash Hall pushes the envelope of hip hop norms, and when you add Gatsby and Ronnie Voice the result is an imagination explosion with no boundaries. DJ blesOne breaks down the letters of his name in “Mona Lisha” and that might be a good place to end: “B – belligerent, L – love sex, E – every day I drink a Guinness, S – for the sneakers that I got like a million fuckin pairs, Number 1 – that’s my spot.” Nuff said. (Written by Novocaine132.)

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Joe Metro

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Seattle Producers on Crossfader

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The Coolout Network

Here’s a full episode of Georgio Brown’s The Coolout Network, from either 2006 or 2007. (This might be Sportn’ Life Swagger Fest from April 2007?)

Coolout hosts Gloria Medina and Royce hang out backstage at Chop Suey and chop it up with the performers, surfacing candid comments and impromptu freestyles from Fatal Lucciauno, D. Black, Mackelmore, and Dyme Def.

There are some great live performances here from big names working small stages early in their careers. “If you weren’t here at Chop Suey on a Tuesday, you missed it.” How familiar does that sound? This scene never really changes.

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Backpack Wax

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A Souls Journey

In the early 1990s, a music and art collective named Jasiri Media Group began to appear on the Seattle rap scene. Jasiri’s first musical release was a 1995 self-titled four-song cassette from Source Of Labor, which began with a track called “Come With We.” Later that year Source Of Labor dropped a three-song vinyl Maxi Single/E.P. titled Sureshotsingles, featuring a remix of “Come With We” with a verse from an MC named Kylea. Kylea soon formed a group called Beyond Reality with another performer named Shelin. Beyond Reality released two 12″ singles on Jasiri, “Whatever” in 1997 and “IReality” in 1998. By 2001, Jasiri was the most influential rap label in Seattle by far and began holding weekly rap gatherings at the Sit & Spin laundry in Belltown. On Easter Sunday, 2001 the Beyond Reality live hip-hop performance at Sit & Spin was recorded and subsequently released as a CD titled The Revival.

2007’s A Souls Journey falls at the end of the Beyond Reality recording career, and it is a perfect exclamation point capping Kylea’s important body of work. The liner notes are a celebration of Kylea’s family with a lot of sepia-tone childhood photos which set a mood of reflection and heritage. Beyond Reality enlists one of Seattle’s top producers on A Souls Journey, the legendary BeanOne. Kuddie and Bubba also make appearances. Bean’s work on the beats is excellent, two highlights are the upbeat track “The 1-2” with its sticky scratching, and the more laid back “Souls Journey” which creates a big sound with horn blasts.

Lyrically there’s no question that Kylea is among the top MCs to ever come from Seattle. She uses a variety of styles to deliver her message of true empowerment. Every track has lyrics that remind you to try your hardest and do your best. Kylea wants you to know your American history, both the good and the bad. Her raps about “knowledge of self” can serve as positive daily affirmations. It’s very different from rap by the top women MCs of 2022 like Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, and Megan Thee Stallion. Those artists made explicit sex a huge part of their brands. Kylea’s style and subject matter were literally the opposite of this, and therefore A Souls Journey can be enjoyed by any age group without shame. It is a beautiful and timeless hip-hop album. (Written by Novocaine132.)

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Bayani

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Silas Sentinel

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Love Saves The Day

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The Key With No Lock

This is the laid-back collaborative effort from Ricky Pharoe & Tru-ID, from 2007. Both emcees are adept at fire; Ricky P’s debut album, Civilized, was an angry young paranoiac’s manifesto, while Tru-ID’s one played out like the diary of a poet in front of a dramatic, cinematic score. Here they tune it down a few notches, creating an album together that rarely achieved the energy of either emcee’s solo outings, but instead played out easy like a late summer afternoon.

Neither emcee tries any stylistic acrobatics in favor of relatively basic flows and sing-song choruses. The beats are likewise relaxed and mid-tempo. Mr. Xquisit, Jewels Hunter, and Camila lend their vocal cords, and Budo, Apoulo, Laidback Luke, Stuart Rowe, Graves, and Artistic Propaganda produce. The album was recorded and mixed by Macklemore (who also contributes lyrically to “The Real Kings.”)

Up until recently, I wrongly thought Ricky was getting beef for making this record; as it turns out for whatever reason it was Ricky who didn’t feel it was up to par with the rest of his work. He may not be naked on the news screaming “come and get me” on this album as much as his previous efforts, but I for one appreciate it as a fine stand-alone record, and as my introduction to these two distinguished emcees. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

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The Cause & Effect

Today, I’m sharing the history of the 2007 G-Funk debut of D.Black, The Cause & Effect. It dropped descended from a line of hip-hop royalty: The son of James Croone (aka Captain Crunch J Croone) of Emerald Street Boys and Mia Black from Emerald Street Girls. As a youth, D.Black was mentored by Vitamin D, then co-managed by Sir Mix-A-Lot’s manager Ricardo Fraiser and Source of Labor’s J.Moore (RIP).

At age 16, he was a co-founder of legendary Sportn’ Life Records alongside Devon Manier, and a driving force behind one of our town’s most important hip-hop artifacts, the 2003 Sportin’ Life compilation featuring Oldominion, Narcotik, Silent Lambs Project, Frame, and others. The label also launched the careers of Fatal Lucciauno and Spac3eman.

So in the middle of this tornado, 19-year-old D.Black released The Cause & Effect, a debate-ending anvil from a talented prodigy. It features production from hip-hop heavyweights: Bean One, Jake One, Supreme La Rock (as part of The Conmen), Fearce, and Ryan Croone (famous for the funky gangsta sound of Squeek Butty Bug’s excellent Really Cheatin’ from 1997). A bunch of cuts were produced by D.Black himself. Every track oozes confidence and certainty. There are so many gems here.

Like most mid-00 CDs, 19 tracks fill the full 72-minute capacity, and there are features galore from Fatal, Choklate, J. Pinder, Dyme Def, and The Parker Brothaz. This a true Seattle classic available on Spotify and Bandcamp. Go listen today.

Here’s a curious twist to the story: Shortly after releasing this record, D.Black abandoned his gangsta roots and cut ties with this project. Years later, he finally returned to the mic under a new name, Nissim, and a new identity as a black Orthodox Jewish hip-hop artist based in Israel.

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Cancer Rising

After experiencing their first two albums, you might have begun to get comfortable in the familiarity of what Cancer Rising was all about. The group’s third, self-titled album is like having the rug pulled out from under you when you least expect it. The group introduced DJ Bles One as a production/lyrical force, and in doing so effectively nullified Cancer Rising’s previous identity, while simultaneously synthesizing an entirely new sound. On track two, “Watch Your Step,” and track three, “Let’s Start Some Shit,” Bles (as Bruce Illest) brought all of the purposefully offensive, bizarre energy that made his sought-after mixtapes so innovative and fun. The original CR sound survived intact on cuts like “Perseverance,” “We Gonna Make It,” and “Truckin,” but those three songs are tucked away at the end of the album, and they sound quaint and proper next to the rest of the album’s bacchanalia. The chemistry of Cancer Rising interacting with Bles One is successful because Bles took the existing meld of influences and put it on hyperdrive. “Evryday Bidness” is perhaps the most perfect distillation of this crazy new mixture, and it combines that CR soul with the drunken-chameleon production style of Bles One. Cancer Rising would be the third and final album from this celebrated Seattle hip hop group, but the friendships created here continued in the saga of They Live, Mash Hall, and later, town legends Don’t Talk To The Cops. (Written by Novocaine132.)

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Space Music

Space Music by Dyme Def from 2007 isn’t one to listen to on headphones: Channeling old-school rap, remixing heavyweights like Kurtis Blow and The Beatles, this is the album to bring to the next beach party–preferably on cassette on a ghetto blaster–and play loud while kickin’ it with friends. This is music to be shared. I love the interplay between the three emcees and the way sample hooks are derived from the less obvious parts of the song, like “Clap your hands…” from “The Breaks.” A good soundtrack for summer.

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Lovework

In the most recent issue of City Arts, you’ll find a poem contributed by Gabriel Teodros honoring the memory of J. Moore. Consequently, I found myself listening to Lovework on headphones at the moment when I ran into Gabriel himself outside of Neumos at last Friday’s memorial show.

This record recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, and it sounds as fresh and honest today as it did in 2007. Exploring wide-ranging “big” issues from sexism to classism, immigration to geopolitical struggles, Lovework is also very damn funky. Press play and two songs in I’m already chair dancing. The way the bass drums and the bass guitar interplay throughout “Beautiful” is simply sublime as is the syncopated rhyme scheme in “East Africa.” Here’s a musician who understands the responsibility and opportunities of the microphone to influence hearts and minds. Seek this record out.

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