A film about Northwest hip-hop from

The Emerald City Beginning

The Emerald City Beginning was released in 2020 as the first episode in a planned, upcoming series about the origins of hip-hop in the Northwest. The show was created by E-Dawg and Rubik: two Town OGs who certainly have all the right credentials to deliver an authentic portrait of ’80s Seattle.

They sit down with Sir Mix-A-Lot, Nasty Nes, and J-Skee. The centerpiece interview is with James “Captain Crunch” Croone, legendary emcee of The Emerald Street Boys. “Nobody could out-bop him,” says J-Skee about Croone’s skills on the mic. “They were sophisticated. They had no weaknesses,” adds Mix.

Captain Crunch tells the story of how The Emerald Street Boys met: Sweet J stole a rhyme from Sugar Bear, or that was the rumor, and they went off to fight him. In 1982, Seattle-King County Visitors’ Bureau had a contest to find a new nickname for Seattle, and “The Emerald City” was chosen. The Emerald Street Boys were originally named so as to take advantage of the newfound tourism buzz.

You’ll learn about some other of the artists from the mythical start of Seattle rap: Silver Chain Gang, Frostmaster Chill, Big Boss Cross, Chelly Chell, and Supreme La Rock. And you’ll learn how clueless the East Coasters were (and continue to be) about the Northwest. When Nasty Nes first brought Mix-A-Lot to NYC, the record execs said rap from Seattle was impossible, in a place “where there are only horse-drawn buggies and green grass.”

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Party Invader

West Seattle’s Big Boss Cross released his rap single, “Party Invader,” in 1986. The song is six-and-a-half minutes of electro techno-funk beats fronted by an ever-more creative series of rap boasts.

In the early ‘80s, Chris “Big Boss” Cross was in a group with Gary Jam, called Jam Delight. Later, he released a cassette called “Pimpin’ Wit Me,” which created enough buzz to convince California’s Macola Records to distribute “Party Invader” all across the country.

In the song, we learn that Big Boss Cross is a devastating force. He’s got “computers in the background.” He’s invincible. He’s “the rap messiah of the mixing board.” He’s “hotter than fire.” “A solid gold player in Rappinhood.” His “rhymes are never off tempo.” Some of these bars are truly entertaining. The B-side of this record features just the instrumental beats should you wish a break from the boasts.

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Rhyme One Time (For God Almighty)

According to the excellent half-hour YouTube program titled “The Emerald City Beginning – Episode 1,” hosted by Rubik and E-Dawg, perhaps the earliest rivalry in Seattle rap belongs to Jam Delight vs. The Terrible Two. In the video, Captain Crunch recalls teaming up with fellow Terrible Two member Sugar Bear for the first battle in 1981 against Garry Jam and Boss Cross who were Jam Delight. Jam and Cross were the victors that day at Lateef’s nightclub and Terrible Two subsequently decided to regroup as a trio called Emerald Street Boys.

The two members of Jam Delight continued making music together, and in 1985 they wrote this incredible Seattle rap song titled “Rhyme One Time (For God Almighty).” Instead of Jam Delight, they called themselves Rhyming Gospel Sensations. The song begins with a bouncy Harold Faltermeyer type of keyboard melody, and then Garry Jam (Gary Gilmer) and Big Boss Cross (Christopher Cross) take turns rapping about their faith. The lyrics are clever and heartfelt, including gems like, “Before you eat dinner you need to say grace.”

“Rhyme One Time (For God Almighty)” came out on Douglas T. Green’s Seattle record label called TLP Records, which listed an address at 25th and E. Cherry. Garry Jam went on to make a very humorous song called “Snot” with Sir Mix-A-Lot and Daddy Rich the following year. He also made a solo track called “Funky Fresh Beat Of The Drum.” Big Boss Cross recorded a track in 1986 titled “Party Invader.” Both Jam and Cross are pioneers in Seattle rap history, and hopefully, more and more of their work will become available. Cross passed away in 2016, rest in peace. Written by Novocaine132

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