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Cause & Effect

DJ Marco Collins says “Gifted Gab got serious AF on this,” while HipHopDX says it simply: “Gifted Gab is DANGEROUS.” Spark your best blunt before spinning Cause & Effect, a premium strain opus with no features, and a lone producer, Antwon Vinson. Shining a light on both sides of Gab’s singular style, mixing complexity with wit, confidence with seduction. Half of the album is hard-hitting gangsta murder music, while the flip is effortlessly smooth R&B for the afterparty, for when you’re up close and personal. This year, it was released on limited-edition vinyl as volume 4 in the Crane City Music collection.

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Gab The Most High

This artist needs no intro. I’m assuming y’all already big fans of the self-proclaimed “queen of Seattle,” Gifted Gab. Throughout the year I’ve had love affairs with other records, but it’s Gab The Most High, released in May, that I’ve consistently returned to again and again. Few records have felt so confident, demonstrating such complete command of instruments, writing, rapping, vocal sampling, and on. Gab is a magpie, collecting threads from multiple genres: funk, R&B, and reggae; and then layering in new textures, including showing off a soulful singing voice. The album release party featured a full Motown-style backing band.

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Gab The Most High Swishahouse Remix

I’ll confess that I wasn’t super hip to the whole Screwed and Chopped scene before Gifted Gab started hyping this record and the unique remixing style of DJ Michael “5000” Watts. Starting with Gab’s startlingly great release Gab The Most High, Watts slows down every track by 1/3, and then introduces skips and repeats and scratches. Anyone who knows me already knows how much I love the source material, and here, slowing the music down illuminates the tiny musical details, and the repeats put the focus on the nuances of Gab’s lyrics and wordplay. Listening to these remixes makes me love the original album even more. (And this isn’t just a few tracks—Watts remixed the whole damn album.) This Swishahouse remix confirms Gab’s right to serve as Queen of Seattle. Please give her the Royal Warrant pronto.

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Cognitive Dissonance: Part II

First off, a major shout out to Jake Crocker, preternatural producer and secret weapon of Black Umbrella Music. His stark symphonic backdrops on 2014’s Cognitive Dissonance, Part II are enchanting and luxe; the perfect accompaniment to Raz Simone’s elegant storytelling and robust vocabulary. Raz punctuates the narratives with worthwhile meditations on the questionable value of pursuing money at the expense of time and natural resources. This is a record of cinematic characters, of listening to a theatrical play, evocative of a mood and a place, and a plot, the listener lounging in plush seats as the house lights dim. I’d love to see Strawberry Theatre Workshop mount this album at 12 Ave Arts as a play.

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Girl Rap

One of the masterpieces of Seattle rap: Gifted Gab‘s Girl Rap. If this were a cassette I would have long ago worn it out. Rarely a week goes by that I haven’t spun this a few times. Gab has a potent ricochet flow and lots of truth to deliver.

Seattle hip-hop blog 206UP picked this record as one of the “Top 10 Albums of 2014,” saying that:

Gifted Gab becomes a more fully-evolved artist with every release and Girl Rap was Gabby embracing ‘90s-influenced R&B in equal measures with the hard, bracing shit-talk we’ve come to know and love her for. This rapper is good enough to bat third in any crew’s lineup; she’s Griffey-like in the way you don’t want to miss an at-bat because you never know when she’ll do something incredible.

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