A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Delicate

Taylor Hart from West Coast cannabis hip-hop site Respect My Region selected Delicate as one of the very best Northwest albums from 2020, saying:

You wanna talk about someone skating over a beat? Let’s talk Dave B. He glides across the ice with his lyrics gracefully as if he were competing in the Olympics. The way the words fall out of his mouth it’s like he’s hitting triple axles with his tongue. His newest album, Delicate, is a stunning example of these talents. Dave B.’s the type of artist, for me, where I don’t even question whether the album will be good or not; I just know I’m going to listen to it and enjoy it.

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

NEWCOMER

This 82-minute feature film is an intimate introduction to Seattle’s vibrant hip-hop underground. It was assembled from hundreds of tiny performance clips—shot for Instagram—into a single, continuous concert mosaic, and stars 93 of the top hip-hop artists from The Town.

Here’s how KEXP describes it in their review: “NEWCOMER stretches the idea of the concert film to an artistic extreme: Sub-minute snippets artfully arranged to resemble a field recording of Seattle’s rap scene, the pieces fractured and pieced back together in a truly engrossing way. The narrative flows through venues like Barboza, Cha Cha Lounge, Vermillion, Lo-Fi, the Showbox, the Crocodile, and dozens more. It’s Khris P pouring Rainier into a Solo cup while he raps; bodies packed into regional landmark ETC Tacoma; SassyBlack improvising a song urging concertgoers to buy her merch; the delightfully awkward dance moves of white people in KEXP’s Gathering Space; Chong the Nomad beatboxing and playing harmonica simultaneously; Bruce Leroy bullying a beat next to the clothing racks at All-Star Vintage; Specswizard rhyming about his first time performing in front of a crowd while standing before The Dark Crystal playing on a projection screen. The film is about the moments we experience—as lovers of live performance—just as much as the performances themselves.”

NEWCOMER was directed by Gary Campbell and was an official selection at the 2020 New York Hip-Hop Film Festival and the 2020 Golden Sneakers International Hip-Hop Film Festival in Hamburg, Germany. Throughout November 2020, the film screened for four weeks on the Northwest Film Forum theatrical screening site in honor of Hip-Hop History Month.

You can watch the full movie below.

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

BLEU

BLEU, the fourth record from Dave B, explores the anxieties of adulthood in our social media-drenched new millennium. It’s a deep, witty, and contemplative scroll through frustration and love. DJ Booth says that “Dave B’s rhymes call to mind the artfully constructed schemes of both mixtape-era Chance The Rapper and Aminé,” while The Stranger summarizes it thusly: “Witty lyrics, soulful singing, incisive rapping, and excellent production: BLEU is really fucking good.”

Here’s another take:

In their annual year-end critics’ poll, The Seattle Times ranked BLEU as one of the very best Seattle albums of 2019, saying:

With his fourth album, the proven emcee further bolsters his credentials as one of Seattle hip-hop’s top dual threats, splicing gospel-splashed singing passages into his nasally bars with aplomb. The 10-track introspective journey carries nods to late Seattle luminaries Kari Ca$h and J. Moore, with Dave’s unflappable flow belying the internal tension in his lyrics.

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In The Comfort Of

CityArts declared In The Comfort Of as their Album of the Month for March. They describe the magic of this record as Sango’s “wholehearted embrace of change as an agent of evolution for the city and the nation.” DJ Booth touches upon the emotional intensity of the music, “capturing the peaks and valleys of personal growth with an unfiltered lens… Sango reveals himself as a true empath.” Pigeons & Planes praises the “infectious Latin rhythms, romantic and lush, while still having a sleek electronic sheen… it is a perfect project to get lost in.”

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Pearl

Pearl is an ambitious, soul-tinged departure from Dave B’s previous work, harnessing the energies of a live backing band to gorgeous results. “I don’t recognize the man I’ve become,” he croons, while surrounded by sweeping, spectacular guitar solos on album closer, “Sweetest Thing.” It’s a romantic and bittersweet torch song, like many of them here, that leaves you swooning. In their review, The Seattle Times described Pearl as a breakup record, and it’s true that these songs ponder the pros and cons of singledom, dating, and commitment. But after a year of bad news and presidential oxygen suck, you’ll also hear a strong longing to tune out the Twitter tirades through idle distraction, to say “Fuck it, I just can’t deal,” and binge Nextflix, drink a little too much, and scroll and scroll and scroll through social media. When that dark cloud threatens to overtake you, “whenever you find yourself bored,” that’s when you spin the two-track tour-de-force of “Scrolling” and “Magnum,” the latter an extended outro of the first, bursting with experimentation, screwed, chopped and—for me anyway—heavily on repeat. Dave B has had his world turned upside down this year: Selling out The Neptune, performing on The Tonight Show, and touring across America and Australia. This record demonstrates how much he deserves every accolade and success, with many more to come.

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Overture To The Unknown

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about sources of energy—those wells from which we draw our creative sparks, and how wherever our top Seattle talents are digging lately is largely unmapped geography. I felt this strangeness with Porter Ray’s Watercolor earlier this year, and this new wavy energy is as good a preamble as any from which to discuss Overture To The Unknown, the brilliant seven-song debut EP from Koga Shabazz. On the first play, this record will strike you as distinctly alien: Distorted voices, beats, and verses that run parallel and not always together—and sometimes in reverse—alongside out-of-place samples that spar with bass notes so low they’re under the floor. And then during the decimating “Ol’ Faith” the drums drop away for a moment, and a clear voice speaks, “This is your conscience calling…” In that moment of waking you realize how much this rich playground has been tapping deep channels in your subconscious, haunting like the cover art. Koga’s wordplay operates like tightly knit Zen koans, unpacked through meditation. This record is a dense trip, and from each subsequent listen you emerge with new truths, and you’re so hungry and so thirsty for them you’ll replay and repeat, and replay again. (Yesterday I listened to this album five times in a row.) “Overture” pushes some of the town’s brightest stars to new heights—Jake Crocker, Gifted Gab, Dave B, Jake One, Max Moodie, Ralph Redmond IV, Vinciboy, and Samsara. You’ve heard little like this from any of them before. Bravo to executive producer Sam Lachow on the assemblage. Find a comfortable chair, fire this up, and be ready to rewire your brain.

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Gemini

Gemini is Macklemore’s self-released celebration of our town: Because of their features on this record, local talents Dave B and Travis Thompson were on The Tonight Show singing “Corner Store,” and representing our hip-hop community on national television.

But let’s start here: I’m headbanging in my car. It’s 1:00 am and “Firebreather” roars. It’s no surprise there’s a car on the cover. This is car music. You turn up the dial and you keep wanting to turn it up.

Macklemore’s devout honesty is found throughout Gemini, leaving you with the feeling that you need to reduce the hypocrisies in your fraudulent life. Despite our desire to make work and be artists, “waking up to a screen and watching TV, it’s easy.” On “Intentions” he begins, “I want to be sober, but I love getting high.” Rather than pursue our own dreams, we choose to “live on social media and read other people’s thoughts.”

Recorded at home, in the basement, the music is intimate. Every song is so thoroughly considered and contains the sort of details it takes dozens of listens to notice, both in the music and the storytelling. In lieu of usual producer Ryan Lewis, there are talented local and mainstream collaborators galore here: Budo, Tyler Dopps, Xperience, Saint Claire, Dan Caplen, Abir, Donna Missal, Reignwolf, Otieno Terry, Ke$ha, Offset, Lil Yachty, Eric Nally, and Skylar Grey, whose hook on the second track is truly “Glorious.”

For everyone out there hoping to one day to have the worldwide stadium-level fame that Macklemore has achieved, may this record be your textbook for success.

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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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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

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Tomorrow

At some point this year I stuck a sticky note on the front of this CD that says, “Killer tracks: #2, 3.” Later, I went back and added the numbers for pretty much every other track on this record. Tomorrow is an album built around all the amazing things Dave B can do with his voice, with phrases and verses providing all the momentum here, constantly pivoting forward, fast, slow, in reverse. On this release, his voice stands alone in Sango’s stripped-down ambient environment: distant synths enveloping the verses, and ever-present washes of reverb. I love the sounds of rain falling throughout the opening of “Cold Weather.” The “Rainier Beach Station” announcement from a Link light rail car grounds this record in a place: It’s the sound of Seattle’s south end, magic and multicultural.

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Friends, Funk & Liquor

There’s an easy, happy vibe that you find in most of the records of Sam Lachow that I just love. Sam’s latest one, Friends, Funk & Liquor, further demonstrates the evolution of his career from young wine to fine port: here are seven slick and stylish songs that slide by in the most satisfying way. Sam is a presence that vibes throughout this record, but he often steps back to give lead mic to one of his many talented contributors, including Ariana DeBoo, Gifted Gab, B. Skeez, and others. Dave B is featured on three tracks here. The third track, “Absolutely” will have you jumping around your living room. This is party music, the sound of hanging out with your friends, and Sam’s many friends and collaborators are featured on the cover. What a party.

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Punch Drunk

Hmmm... There's not a lot of information about this project in the museum encyclopedia. We'd love your help! TOWN LOVE is maintained by an awesome community of passionate volunteers who keep it all up to date.

Do you know something about the history of this record? Do you have a favorite lyric or a favorite memory? Send us an email on why this is one of the great hip-hop albums from the Northwest. Thanks!

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7 Slaps In The Sack

7 Slaps In The Sack is a video interview series created by Carrick Wenke. Shot between 2014 and 2020, the show has more than 50 episodes, each of which involves going record shopping at Everyday Music on 10th in Seattle with “your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper.”

Everyday Music is sadly gone now, but you can view all the episodes from the series on YouTube. A wide range of Town talent has spent the day shopping with Carrick, talking about favorite records, influences, and craft, including Jarv Dee, Keyboard Kid, Nacho Picasso, Romaro Franceswa, Travis Thompson, and many others.

We’ve embedded a few of our favorite episodes below.

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Huckleberry

Huge props to Sam Lachow for his ongoing commitment to promote fellow rappers from the town. His 2013 one-off single, “Young Seattle, Part 2”–featuring a host of local MCs–was my first real introduction to the scene, and I voraciously sought out music by each and every contributor. Huckleberry follows suit, pulling in artists and collaborators on every track. It was funded through Kickstarter, allowing fans to be collaborators of sorts, too. The record itself is a fun collage of introspective, self-referential party rap, with killer pop hooks and top-notch beats. (A special call out to the wild guitar and vocal textures contributed by Maggie Brown.)

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Life Before

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

A rich mix of sounds ranging from the heady, airy slap of “In The Wind” to the thick-as-gravy boom-bap “Distant Love.” Sinseer covers his life as he knows it: a quarter-life coming-of-age on wax, informed by love lost and found, and loyalties and promises made to friends that run as deep as familial blood ties.

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Tacos on Broadway

The Stranger picked Tacos on Broadway as one of the “Top 5 Albums of 2013,” saying that:

The two young rappers, Tiglo and Cole, of Brother from Another had a very good year for three reasons. First, they were correctly selected by XXL magazine as one of Seattle’s “rappers you should know,” and second, the EP Tacos on Broadway, which featured production by one of my favorite beat-creators in town, Nima Skeemz (he not only did beats for one of the best tracks of the year, Raz Simone’s “Sometimes I Don’t,” but also the local hip-hop classic by Sol, “Stage Dive”), has a consistently crisp and chill sound. When listening to this EP, one feels that Tiglo and Cole are in no rush to become famous, but are more concerned with getting their sound and rap mode down. Third, they also released the best hip-hop video of the year for “Pike & Broadway,” which expressed new urban values for the hip-hop culture of the future: the pleasures of cycling around the city and visiting/enjoying parks.

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

MCMXCII

Hmmm... There's not a lot of information about this project in the museum encyclopedia. We'd love your help! TOWN LOVE is maintained by an awesome community of passionate volunteers who keep it all up to date.

Do you know something about the history of this record? Do you have a favorite lyric or a favorite memory? Send us an email on why this is one of the great hip-hop albums from the Northwest. Thanks!

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Young Seattle

Between 2012 and 2016, musician Sam Lachow created three collaborative short films, each bearing the name “Young Seattle.”

Slightly confusingly, the videos are labeled “Parts 1, 2, and 4.” Part 3 was released as an audio-only track with no video.

Here’s his explanation of the concept: “I make these Young Seattle videos each year simply because I’m a huge fan of all these artists. As a fan, I just thought it’d be badass to put them all on one track. My favorite thing about the Seattle hip-hop scene is that we don’t have any specific sound. There are so many different types of styles in this little city and yet we all fuck with each other. We’re all part of the same culture. It’s fucking cool.”

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