A film about Northwest hip-hop from

IDXI

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Alchemy Union 4: Gaia

Alchemy Union produce these absolutely killer mix compilation CDs, like AU 4: Gaia, pictured here. They are intimidatingly good. This one explores themes related to climate change. Track two, Alden Lightning‘s enviro-anthem title track, produced by Vaughn, has bass drums pounding down like hydro-fluorocarbons. She sings, “I don’t know why you think this will end well for you.” Some tracks are gorgeously, technically precise, Gershwin… or Classical-even. A few tracks in, your speakers are transformed into tin cans, while Araless raps, “We Can’t See” with verses about all the discarded plastic bottles in the ocean. And moments later, during Carter Wilson‘s “Present Tense,” you’re involuntarily snapping your fingers, and singing along that we’re all “trying to do the right thing.” Mixes like this remind me of the wealth of talent in this city. And damn, this is definitely the place where you’ll find it.

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Proletariat Rock

Araless is worried about mind control. “Corporations are mediating our conversations,” he raps early on the first track of his fiercely political punk-meets-hip-hop EP, Proletariat Rock. And considering I first wrote this review on Instagram, a platform owned by Facebook, well, he’s got a point. The chant that follows goes “Money doesn’t make the man; it makes the man a robot.” It’s a refrain that will pop into your head from time to time, while you’re walking or waiting in line and you’ll find yourself muttering it under your breath. On “Rotten Fruit” he unearths the whole system, finding it completely corrupted, and demands an immediate social response. The nine-minute guitar-heavy closing track, urges a simpler life, if such a thing is even still possible, before launching into a gorgeously sweet, low-fi hidden song.

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

#MURIKKKA

Released on November 5, only a couple of days before we all headed to the polls, MadShroom MC’s #MURIKKKA is a surgical nuclear strike, delivering potent, aggressive anthems that it feels like we need. This brash EP is a commanding solo work from the co-founder of the Black Magic Noize collective and FFU. It follows a long tradition of smart political commentary rap, a la classic Public Enemy. #MURIKKKA is a pessimistic assessment of a government obsessed with money and war. Track 3, “War Machine,” is one you’ll want to play LOUD. On the OCnotes-produced “Dance Party BullShit” MadShroom MC offers up the following salve: “Don’t worry about shit y’all. Just dance. Like it’s your only solution.”

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Junk Food

There’s a lot of deeply cool weirdo hip-hop coming out of the Everett scene these days, evidenced by the ongoing creative dominance of the Black Magic Noize/Filthy Fingers United art collective(s). Junk Food is a self-titled 2015 full-length featuring tracks by MadShroom MC, DJ Corndogg, Araless and Vaughn This is messy, unpolished music, constantly and inventively pushing at the edges of the envelope. It’s filled with beats that shouldn’t work, but magically, they do. On “War Lords,” space synths and strangled brass find their way into an unexpectedly catchy rhythm, while the more conventional “FG Keeps Rolling” is a touching ode to that junk bucket car you love too much to part with. Interspersed throughout is a prank about corn dogs and cabbies that will leave you wanting for the punchline.

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