A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Byrd's Eye View

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Reigncraft, Volume 3: Supply and Demand

Reigncraft Volume One was an excellent showcase of Seattle hip-hop across a broad spectrum of styles and genres. Volume 2 continued the pattern, and gave listeners a taste of diverse rap talent from our industrious, productive city. The third in the series is Reigncraft Volume 3: Supply And Demand, released in 2004. Supply And Demand is as ambitious as its predecessors, and it’s a very fun listening experience.

The first song that stands out for me is “Ra-M-O-S” by No Good Therapy. This one previously appeared on No Good’s 2003 indie CD We’re Back Seattle, which was re-released by California’s Thump Records with the title Come N Get It. “Ra-M-O-S” is a well-produced track from Beezie 2000 with lots of sonic twists and turns. Greasy Earl aka Ricky Pharoe absolutely nails it with “New Earl Order.” The sinister Isaac Meek beat looms threateningly like a second American Civil War. “A lot of people have tried to silence me…all of them failed,” goes the sampled movie quote throughout the song. Pharoe is the master of the sardonic, here he conjures up a maniacal dictator not too distant from George HW Bush.

Ricky Pharoe isn’t the only artist here with an alias. Seattle rap veteran Silver Shadow D gives us “Yum Yum” using his alter-ego Ferrocious. Shadow picks a solid beat here by producer Loop to drop some Jamaican-inspired lyrics in an energetic Patois. Dim Mak create a universe that is moody and full of emotion on “Breathe,” which was featured on their EPoch release. In another sampling victory, “Breathe” fades out to mysterious dialogue, “I studied day and night, to learn of those unseen forces that hold this world together…beneath the surface.”

Gangsta supergroup Lac of Respect bring that Street Level vibe with “They Know.” As a side note, Street Level founder D-Sane also produces “Take This Flight” by Crytical, and “Intro” featuring series host KNDNM on vocals. “Revel In Relevance” by Asun is unique in several ways. Asun is one of the more non-commercial artists to come from Seattle. Each time he goes out, he seems to be experimenting, and always reaching for different themes or flows. “206, that’s what I represent,” he reminds us in the chorus. Volume 3: Supply And Demand has a ton of different tracks to delve into, and don’t forget to check out the top-notch CD graphics by Billy The Fridge. Written by Novocaine132

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Reigncraft, Volume 1: The Resources

The tech world is known for Silicon Valley start-up incubators like Y Combinator which launched in 2005. Incubators bring together talented people with different skillsets who team up to create new technology companies. In 2003, a fan of Seattle hip-hop named KNDNM was ahead of the curve. He decided to start his own Seattle hip-hop incubator called Reigncraft, which led to a CD compilation, Reigncraft, Volume 1: The Resources. KNDNM explains his goal on “Intro,” which is to introduce producers, rappers, and studios to each other so that they can all find someone who matches their creative vision.

“Sing A Song” by Willie Will and Illy Wonka starts things off, and it’s hella dope. At first it seems bubblegum, but as the track goes forward it gets more and more nutritious, and the MCs earn the candy beat with excellent flows. This is a sound that could be on the radio, it rides like a more wholesome version of “Headband” by B.o.B. and 2 Chainz, or a less repetitive “There It Go” by Juelz Santana.

Ricky Pharoe is a rapper known for alter egos. After all, he released four albums as Art Vandelay, George Costanza’s fictional architect. Is that meta enough for you? Here he uses the name Greasy Earl, and offers the track “Celebrity Status.” Earl hits it out of the park on this multi-dimensional, entertaining joint, with a gorgeous beat produced by I. Meek and J. Karp. “Keep clipping the coupons, I’m up in the penthouse, you sleep on a futon,” he disses. Pharoe dropped a full Greasy Earl album in 2003 titled Chief Executive Officer, with possibly my favorite rap track of all time, “New Earl Order.”

Illy Wonka returns with his own solo track, “This Is How I Feel,” which is another winner. Wonka found an excellent producer in Mugsy Styles, who also produced “Sing A Song.” While some tracks on The Resources are muddy and poorly mixed, Mugsy’s work is clean and his beats pop with clarity. The mood is positive and the lyrics provide something to build on, such as, “When you don’t practice, you lose.” I’m a big fan of empowering messages, and Wonka has plenty.

“Buildn 16” is the most complex track on the compilation. From the first line, “First floor apartment one, a single mom and her son,” the lyrics are very visual and descriptive. Rappers A.C. and Kevin deliver compelling verse after verse. The beat allows the message to stand out by staying in the background, but it brings plenty of funky weirdness and mood for days. Reigncraft was an ambitious project, and it would not be long before Volume 2: The Source arrived later in 2003. Written by Novocaine132

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