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Non-Fiction

This is the high-energy sophomore single from Seattle class act Bedroom Produksionz. BP is one of those great acts that could move the crowd as well as move minds in equal measure. MC Kendo comes like the man on a mission that he is, loud and demanding your attention; while Sayid’s cleanly-sliced, sample-heavy production could leave Babu in the dust on his best day. His beats just make you want to move, to jump. Simultaneously the lyrics are a dense, impassioned social commentary where no word is wasted – definitely coming from a cerebral angle. It’s a winning combination.

This is the last single they put out collectively, which is a shame, to say the least. With such a strong output (no matter how slim) it makes me wish there was an album or two to cop out there for sure. Get your head nod on and your fist pump warmed up for “Non-Fiction” b/w “Temple N0.8”. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

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The Shinin' Director's Cut EP

Olympia’s K Records put out some surprising stuff back in the day. Take this, for example: The Shinin’s Directors Cut EP. This West Coast release, produced entirely by Take One and None, featured the rare combination (at least at that time) of both Cali and Northwest emcees. PM, Universal, DR. OOP, and J-Thorn represent the south, while Samson S, Vitamin D, and Bedroom Produksionz stand up for the north. 8 tracks in all, 5 vox, and 3 instrumental. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

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S.E.L.F.

“S.E.L.F.” was released in 1998 by one of Tacoma’s greatest hip-hop groups, Bedroom Produksionz, the duo of DJ Sayeed and Kindu Shabazz. (The two would become Black Anger on tracks in collaboration with MC E-Real.) Personally, I love this group, their music, and their overarching philosophy. Let me explain why: Each Bedroom song was released with an instrumental version. Listen to the instrumental first: You’ll hear a kaleidoscopic soundscape, groovy, unexpected, shimmering. This base is an obstacle course, constantly testing Kindu’s lyrical parkour on the vocal track, but he nonetheless conquers it victoriously. The interplay between beats and vocals is mesmerizing, a little reminiscent of Kung Foo Grip. The songs themselves celebrate Black liberation, self-empowerment, and supporting and nurturing local communities. “S.E.L.F.,” is an acronym for “Supreme Ever Lasting Foundation,” an effort to decontaminate decades of colonial programming: The system wants to keep Black communities poor so they can be a useful prop for spotty government aid. But by knowing and taking care of yourself, seeing the world with open eyes, this is the “knowledge that is key to free the black nation.” They started their own record label, Du4Self—as part of their own self-empowerment—which inspired Blue Scholars to do the same, as referenced in their hit, “Fou Lee.” When interviewed by The Rocket, Kindu questioned what success we were all striving for: “…The Northwest is so overlooked that our form of hip-hop is not yet corrupted by big business, but that’s bad because we don’t get exposure. We still have a little bit of integrity in our art. Sometimes I wish that the 206 can remain invisible, because the industry has got hip-hop miserable.” Sayeed and Kindu moved to Virginia in 2000 bringing a close to their important impact on our local scene.

Here’s another take:

More greatness from the Northwest, this time coming from Bedroom Produksionz. Consisting of two-thirds of Black Anger, BP drop consciousness and Afrocentricity like their hometown counterparts Source of Labor, but with a distinctly harder edge. Sayeed’s beats are tight, driving, and prominent in the mix, while Kendo’s delivery is equally intense and raw. “I Know Ways” features a signature verse from Silent Lamb Silas Blak. Once again, here’s an act that probably would have been a whole lot more successful if they had come from a different city. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

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Blessed 2 Mic Check

Blessed 2 Mic Check, the wax debut from Nomad Da Nomadic, is a quintessential slab of NW wax, and in many ways typified the Seattle area hip-hop scene in the late nineties. What that means is basically it was hella dope and you missed it. With production by Mr. Supreme on the title cut, and DJ Sayeed and DJ Swift on the two B-sides, this record is sonically tight – especially Sayeed’s track “Da Movement,” which happens to feature Sayeed’s group Black Anger. “Shantae,” Swift’s slower number, comes with its own bonus, as it’s blessed by local heroine Felicia Loud on the hook. Nomad has no problems holding his own amid all this greatness, and in fact, his direct and gritty flow is surprisingly complimentary to the bombastic delivery of Black Anger and Felicia’s gorgeous crooning. Likewise, the beats fit Nomad’s style perfectly, especially Swift’s dark and sedated track, with its murky organ and vibe loops. From here, Nomad went on to release a couple 12″s in 2000 and 2001, as well as a full-length in 2001. His entire output is strong and worth tracking down. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

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Comrade

Most people ’round these parts don’t know it, but Washington ranked right behind New York and California on the list of most-prolific states for underground hip-hop releases in 1998. True, most rap fans probably couldn’t name three or four Northwest groups to save their lives (Mix-A-Lot doesn’t count, dude), but we’re coming up, slowly but surely, building a track record with consistently good releases and the label infrastructure to support.

One such label is Olympia’s own K Records, which, along with Impact Entertainment, has dropped critically acclaimed releases from Black Anger, Bedroom Produksionz, and a whole slew of Northwest talent on the 1998 compilation, Classic Elements.

The Silent Lambs Project represents a collaboration between MCs Blak (of Blind Council) and Jace. The duo’s abstract lyrical style is fueled by production from DJ Sayeed, Mr. Supreme, King Otto, and Specs. Though the songs all stand out as individuals, “No J.R.,” “Stand Over Him” and “S.L. Shit” particularly beg to be blended into a soundtrack for your walk through the streets as gray clouds loom ominously overhead.

“Comrade” is the EP’s single, featuring guest vocals from Kendo of Black Anger and a mellow, CTI Jazz-sounding flute loop courtesy of DJ Sayeed. But the stand-out cut of the record is “Paid Poet,” produced by the Northwest’s most underrated beat miner, King Otto. Given a little more bounce and bassline, Otto’s work here could easily transform into mundane jigginess for some type-shallow MC to spit over. Lucky for us, he keeps it more mysterious, presenting a nice complement to Blak’s sedately frenetic flows.

All in all, Comrade is a very Northwest-sounding record. Who knows if the rest of the world can identify with those rain clouds overhead? As long as you have your soundtrack, it really doesn’t matter. Pop the Silent Lambs’ joint in your Walkman and leave your umbrella at home. (This review originally appeared in The Rocket and was written by Strath Shepard.)

Here’s another take:

Few acts come out the gate as strong as The Silent Lambs Project did here. This debut EP from 1998, with the signature abstract, cerebral, and head-scratching poetry from Jace and Blak, devastates from beginning to end. But nothing less should be expected from this duo.

In 1998, both lyricists were veterans of the scene: Jace as a part of Fourth Party, and Silas holding it down in Blind Council. But listening to this release, you’d think they’d been in the same group forever. Both are foils to the other: Blak’s delivery is edgy and filled with tension, while Jace’s floats smoothly and effortlessly over the beat. The two deliver perfection like yin and yang.

Joining them on the various tracks are some of Seattle’s top producers: DJ Sayeed from Black Anger/Bedroom Produksionz provides the title track and “SL Shit”, King Otto’s on deck for “Paid Poet”, Mr. Supreme from the Conmen shows up for “No J R”, and SpecsOne produced “Stand Over Him”. Kendo from Black Anger also shows up on the title track, “Comrade.” (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

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Classic Elements

Classic Elements was released by Olympia’s K Records in 1998. It contains tracks by sixteen Northwest hip hop artists, including some certified legends. The lyrics are consistently excellent throughout the compilation. These are songs for the mind, and many are vignettes in the true sense of the word, a good example being the captivating saga contained in “A.N.I.T.A.” by Nobody. The production on Classic Elements glows softly like a vintage Edison light bulb. DJ Sayeed (Black Anger) and Brian Weber (Dub Narcotic) both play a large role in shaping the sound of this compilation. Mr. Supreme drops a sublime Twin-Peaks-esque beat for Jace on “What’s Ya Definition,” and Topspin captures a tempest in a teapot with his beat for “Sleep” by Sinsemilla. Every track on this compilation is a genuine artistic expression, and that carries some risk because the performers put their feelings out on display which renders them vulnerable to misunderstanding, or worse, indifference. One of the highlights is “Hip Hop Was” by Ghetto Chilldren, which shines with professional polish among some of the dustier tracks. When you include a track by Source of Labor with Beyond Reality, “Aunt Anna,” and a couple of underground heat rocks from Silas Blak, “Only When I’m High,” and “Blak And Blind,” there’s every reason to make sure this compilation is part of your music collection. (Written by Novocaine132.)

Here’s another take:

Like the four leaves on a lucky clover, four ’90s era Seattle compilations showcase the diverse hip-hop collectives in Washington State and with them your windfall of sounds and explorations: Do The Math, 14 Fathoms Deep, Walkman Rotation, and here, Classic Elements (co-released by Impact Entertainment and K Records). Back then getting the handful of cassettes and comps was a great thrill, and the Seattle area offered up the best. Classic Elements was released at a time when the main place to hear local hip-hop was on the street at Westlake Center or on KCMU’s Rap Attack. Like the title, the classics here are Ghetto Chilldren, Source Of Labor, Black Anger, and Tilson, all offering hits that transcend national radio rap and bring a better class of words and thoughts. Some groups won’t be found outside of this collection – Nobody, Jaleel, 5E, Ski, and Arson have songs that play smooth and timeless. Classic Elements is as relevant today as it was twenty-some years ago. Released on cassette, CD, and on an abbreviated LP – Find it, get it. Good! (This review was submitted by reader Brett Sandstrom.)

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206 Mix Tapes (Worldwide)

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Maxed Out Singles

Black Anger is an extension of the sibling production team Bedroom Produksionz, consisting of DJ Sayeed and emcee Kindu. With the addition of E-Real Asim, they become Black Anger. In my opinion, they occupy the top tier of ’90s Northwest acts along with Tribal Productions, Silent Lambs, and Source of Labor. This EP was put out by K records in ’97 and remains a high point in the recorded output of local acts – especially “206 Mix Tapes,” one of the dopest tracks in ’90s hip-hop – period. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

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Feel What I Feel

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Damn!... Da Demo

From 1994, Black Anger’s Damn!… Da Demo cassette is one of the rarest and storied objects in the history of Seattle hip-hop. Collectors discuss it with hushed tones: “So, have YOU heard Damn Da Demo?”

I once had a long debate with Larry Mizell Jr over whether this cassette was amongst the greatest record of all PNW hip-hop.

Hailing from Tacoma, Black Anger was active and acclaimed between 1994 and 2000. Their recorded output consists of a handful of spectacular 12” EPs and a later compilation of these singles called Maxed Out Singles.

This demo was their first project and it hits hard with a confidence that carries through all of their music. The lead track on this demo cassette is “nigga stick.” It’s a song of magical metamorphosis. The lyrics loop around “the stick” … first, as a symbol of oppression, then as one of self-defense, and finally as an expression of phallic pride. On the second side, the song is remixed with a chill lounge vibe that makes it both more familiar and completely unrecognizable.

The group were both talented rappers and accomplished producers (working under the name Bedroom Produksionz). You can hear these twin talents in the interplay between the beats and verses, one finding the gaps in the other like gears. This music is remarkable to listen to.

Apparently, only a handful of these demo cassettes were ever made. Olympia’s KAOS radio was in the process of throwing out this copy when musician Dawhud saved it from the trash bin. Thank you, sir, for preserving history. This is easily one of my favorite of all-time records.

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