A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Black Babylon

Black Babylon came out in March, so I’m a little behind in writing about it. Artist Donte Peace calls this work his “three-year diary,” and it’s full of reflections on the passage of time and the rejection of labels. “Trapped Folk” reminds us how the game is gamed, disadvantaging black communities through urban living, poverty, and lack of education. The song “Ghetto Boys” is a contemplative, thinking man’s number punctuated with pensive pianos. Much of the production is courtesy of producer D-Sane who brings gravitas to these tracks, alongside reverb-heavy classical music instrumentation that recalls the best work of Raz Simone. Indeed, lotsa innovative producers on display here, including one of my personal favs Max Watters, who works some magic on “Soufside,” with a funky beat and a never-ending slowdown over the final two minutes of the track. “Flaw” features UK rapper Just Jess, providing an accented counterpoint to Donte’s often relaxed flow. These are 12 songs worthy of your contemplation.

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Quadruple Funk

The name Mario Casalini first turned up for me in the production credits of exceptional songs by Raven Hollywood and DoNormaal. I was therefore very excited to discover Quadruple Funk, an 8-song release from the man himself. His music taps into a nostalgia for a time that never was, a sort of space-age ‘70s dance funk mixed with perverted video game music, 8-bit, reversed, turned way up on the low end. Fav track “Temporary Girl” has a Daft Punk feel and the opening of “Too Much Heart” may blow out your speakers. Welcome vocal support on some tracks from Donte Peace, DoNormaal, Ill Skyy, Forza, Planet 39, Munky Do and others. Certifiably fresh. This one sounds like little else.

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Did You Get The Message?

On his song “High Hopes,” Huey P provides some specific commentary on our current situation: “The stupidity is spreading… It is airborne and contagious.”

That’s from the third track on his highly political 2015 album, Did You Get the Message. It’s a great record for making sense of the recent election, with a reminder–via a John Lennon vocal sample–that the system hasn’t been on your side since before you were born. There’s also some unique production work here that warrants your attention, from “underwater” vocal effects to a grounding, insistent buzz that pervades several songs. Huey P was nominated for an artist-of-the-year award at the Seattle Sound Music Awards that same year.

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