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Solar Power: New Sounds in Seattle Hip-Hop

From UK music mag The Wire: “Fab comp on fab orange vinyl collating 14 leap-off points from a loose collation of Seattle based hip-hop artists and producers. The musical diversity here is ear-popping, ranging from the glitchy dubhop femme-gospel of DoNormaal and Stas Thee Boss and the electro ferocity of Remember Face to the rain-soaked doleful grooves of Jarv Dee. Crucially, the racial and gender mix ensures that the story told never gets dull; the album chops and changes to give an intriguing portrait of 14 artists you’ve never heard before finding their own ways to chart Seattle life and Seattle strength through hip-hop. Fascinating.”

From Michigan alt-weekly Northern Express: “This compilation, complete with its appropriately solar flare-focused cover art, brings together more than a dozen performers from Seattle’s hip-hop scene on a transparent, vinyl-only collection that gives these impressive artists the flair they deserve. Included here are tracks by Jarv Dee, who throws down an unforgettable remix of “I Just Wanna”; Gifted Gab, who mixes up R&B and late ’80s rap-pop on “Show You Right”; and Sendai Era, whose tropicália-influenced closer is an album standout.”

From Dusty Groove Records in Chicago: “A nice primer on the underground hip-hop scene in Seattle, circa the post-millennium teens! Solar Power doesn’t really set out to round up a succinct snapshot of a particular Seattle style and sound, so much showcase how diverse and distinctive the voices and producers in the city are. This compilation has the potential to survive as a pretty vital time capsule of this era in Seattle hip-hop history. It’s a lot more gender inclusive than many compilations, too, showing that it isn’t just a boy’s club – and tracks includes “Know Better” by New Track City, “Stop Calling My Phone” by Taylar Elizza Beth, “Front Steps” by Raven Hollywood, and more on colored vinyl.”

From Portugal’s Rimas E Batidas hip-hop magazine: “A new hip-hop edition with 14 tracks of emerging talent. Solar energy is the motto given to this compilation: The idea that Seattle stays true to its past while using its own strength as fuel for the change and renovation of its artistic panorama. This sonic self-sufficiency, a unique sonic imprint for the city, recalls the old glory of grunge, but it’s now in rap that this engine lies, emerging from a more underground, carefully manufactured sector, in the cellars and abandoned factories that will thrive there for not much longer. DoNormaal, Astro King Phoenix, Stas Thee Boss, ZELLi or JusMoni give voice to the manifesto of a constantly changing movement across the city.”

From Jet Set Records, in Kyoto, Japan: “Out of the city where Shabazz Palaces, Blue Scholars, Macklemore and Sir Mix-A-Lot made their base and their mark, a 14-song limited-edition compilation on orange vinyl. From emerging label Crane City Music, this one introduces you to the current Seattle hip-hop scene. The musicians explore various experimental styles, ranging from R&B to G-Funk. Seven of the tracks are from women artists. The jacket artwork by Seattle artist Ari Glass is also brilliant along with the content.”

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LGEP2: Day & Night

Each song on producer Luna God’s six-track Lgep2: Day & Night pairs his beats with a different Seattle vocalist, creating a whos-who of the latest and greatest that Seattle hip-hop has on offer. You will jump up and down to the sonic maximalism/eardrum massage of “Booty Bounce,” featuring ZELLi, and that’s reason enough to check this one out. But it’s the small moments that are the most sublime: The closing bridge of “Managing,” featuring Taylar Elizza Beth catches me by surprise each time as it deconstructs, or the ringing phone at the end of the first track, featuring Campana, that always has me pulling my phone out of my pocket thinking it’s ringing. The closing track “Don’t You Search For Nobody Else” could be a lost bonus track off Beyoncé’s Lemonade. It’s no surprise that KEXP recently included this one in their best-of-the-year list.

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#TEN

Shout out to DJ Zeta and his ongoing series of All City Chop mixtapes. Pictured here is his latest, #TEN, a sampler of the best the local hip hop scene has to offer, featuring tracks from DoNormaal, Raz Simone, Dex Amora, Nacho Picasso, WIZDUMB and many more. He’s an awesome champion of Seattle hip-hop, has his fingers on the pulse, and has introduced me to more than a few amazing local musicians who were not yet on my radar. Get this sampler free on Bandcamp. Alternately, go see Zeta perform live at Vermillion every third Friday as part of his ongoing “Wild Style” residency.

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Solid

Solid is one of several recent releases from the children of OG Seattle rappers. Over the past few years, a whole new generation has been putting their mark on the Town. There’s Malcolm Rebel (son of Vitamin D), Seaan Brooks (son of Criminal Nation’s Clee-Bone), Upendo Moore (son of Jonathan Moore), and ZELLi’s dad is Silver Shadow D.

ZELLi is a young woman in touch with her power. During “No Ca$h,” a sly, tight number that colors outside the lines with the confidence of a banger, she states, plainly, “I can make you put your phone down,” and you are ready to believe her. That standout track also features up-and-comer Porky $coop! This hypnotic EP, Solid evokes neon lights and futuristic synths and would be a killer soundtrack for a Seattle-based cyberpunk film, especially if said theoretical film were shot in major label clubs with the Hennessey flowing. Don’t miss the one-two punch of the opening tracks, “Sacrifice” and “Solid” which were together turned into a gorgeous music video. The multi-headed monochrome red cover art is trippy.

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