A film about Northwest hip-hop from

The Residency Presents: The Town

In the early weeks of the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, when the music scene was knocked sideways by the cancellation of live concerts and “stay-at-home” orders came into effect, Macklemore’s The Residency and Crane City Music organized an hourlong cross-generational Zoom conversation between some of the biggest-ever hip-hop artists from Seattle’s past and present. The event was hosted by Town legend Jace.

Each of the participants was invited to offer up their individual perspectives about the past, present, and future of Northwest hip-hop, as well as talk about how the pandemic was personally affecting them and their music. At one point, Sir Mix-A-Lot says he hopes Seattle’s up-and-comers will “get on my shoulders and jump!”

The event was streamed live on April 18, 2020.

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Reckless Endangerment

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

With his major-label follow-up to last year’s confessional YOUGOOD? the unofficial mayor of Burien steps up the swagger on his first album with Epic Records. There are still plenty of easy-swinging reflective moments, like the strings-laced title track and the Ben Zaidi-assisted “Malice.” But where the darker YOUGOOD? delved into the head trip he experienced facing pressure to keep his momentum going, here Thompson channels those emotions into more upbeat heaters, ready to blow car stereos from Ambaum Boulevard to Aurora. Thompson’s syllable-stuffing bars and effortless melodies are strong enough to bridge hip-hop’s generational divide, solidifying his place in the Seattle rap canon. While tacitly welcoming Thompson to the club, guest verses from mentor Macklemore, Sir Mix-a-Lot, and Geo of Blue Scholars on the mic-passing “Glass Ceiling” contribute to the hardest-hitting Seattle anthem since “Posse on Broadway.”

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

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.

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

&

This Unruly Mess I've Made

This Unruly Mess I’ve Made, from Macklemore and Ryan Lewis is defiantly uncool; celebrating hair metal, failed resolutions, books on tape and herbal tea. Few records from 2016 are more eccentric and audacious. At a time when seeming cool holds such a premium, Unruly Mess walks in the opposite direction and consequently sounds like nothing else. It’s also the only local hip-hop record this year that made me cry. Regardless of mega-star status, this record is still grounded in Seattle’s DIY ethic: self-released and supported on tour by local talents Dave B, Raz Simone, Budo and others. I always laugh at the line, “Give me the Macklemore haircut!” because Ben and I have been the same Capitol Hill barber. How Seattle is that? If you haven’t spun this one recently, go back and listen to it again.

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

All Your Friend's Friends

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!

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

The Blank Canvas

Filmmaker and hip-Hop musician Rafael Flores spent six years making The Blank Canvas: Hip-Hop’s Struggle for Representation in Seattle. The film attempts to document the unique identity of hip-hop culture in Seattle, through interviews with over 100 rappers, producers, DJs, graffiti artists, break-dancers, fashion designers, and promoters from The Town.

It takes us on a journey that investigates the origins of Hip-Hop in the Northwest, the legacy of Sir-Mix-a-Lot, the notorious 1985 Teen Dance Ordinance, Clear-Channel’s dominance over commercial Hip-Hop radio, the increasing popularity of white rappers in Seattle, and hip-hop’s struggle for representation in a seemingly liberal city.

The full 96-minute film is available for rent on Vimeo for $5. Watch the trailer below.

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

The Otherside

The Otherside is an hour-long documentary predominantly covering Seattle’s Capitol Hill-centric “third wave” hip-hop scene, circa 2010. This was a time when MP3s and streaming were fairly new and completely reshaping the music industry. Artists like Blue Scholars were experimenting with Kickstarter and direct fan support. Everyone was trying something new.

There’s a wealth of great interviews, concerts, and backstage footage from artists across the Town. There are hella people in this movie. It’s clear the filmmaker tried to talk with anyone and everyone who was willing. There are some great long chats with Jake One, Prometheus Brown, and Sir Mix-A-Lot. There’s also lots of footage of pre-stardom Macklemore & Ryan Lewis as they prepare to drop The Heist.

Larry Mizell Jr. offers up a four-point guide to being successful in the Northwest: “Be truthful to yourself. Be respectful and knowledgeable of what’s going on and what came before you. Be good: Work on your craft. Further the culture at all times.”

The Otherside premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival and was an audience favorite, selling out two consecutive screenings. It was also chosen as “Best of SIFF” by festival programmers.

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

&

The Heist

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about success. We’re all clamoring and hustling for success in our own ways. Do you follow Macklemore online? That dude works every single day. He’s always in the home studio or on tour. Every day. On “Ten Thousand Hours” he raps, “The Greats were great because they paint a lot,” and you see this with Ben. So when was the last time you listened to The Heist all the way through? I’ve been listening to it a lot lately and there’s such a clear concept from start to finish. It’s not just a collection of random hits: You can see a summer day, walking our green streets, past the big, luxurious northern Capitol Hill homes up to Volunteer Park. You know all these songs, all those songs that played on the radio all summer in 2012 and into the next. There’s so much Seattle on display here. I met Mr. “Thrift Shop” Wanz at a party a few years back and, and I was celebrity struck talking with him. Many of the themes on The Heist have only grown in relevance in 2017, in an America where our president says it’s okay to hate and discriminate. Somewhere between the gentle piano that opens “Same Love” and the chorus of angels that ends it, Macklemore raps, “No law’s gonna change us,” which succinctly summarizes the current mood of defiant Seattle. Don’t be jealous of Macklemore’s money or fame. Be jealous of his impressive flow, his honesty on display, the chart-topping arrangements from Ryan Lewis, and the fact that they did it all themselves on their own terms. No labels. It’s all self-produced and self-released like 90% of the other records I review here. “A life lived for art is never a life wasted.” Pictured here is the 5lb, double vinyl, gator-skin, 18-insert, bonus tracks, box set. It’s a big audacious statement in an age when most are releasing virtual music for free on SoundCloud. Lots of my fav local cats were involved with this record: Nathan Quiroga, Eighty4 Fly, Budo, Hollis Wong-Wear… And then you think, “Damn, this DIY record from Seattle won a Grammy!” What does success mean to you if not this?

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Cinémetropolis

I’m calling it: It’s time for a Blue Scholars revival. With the many recent waves of economic and social upheaval, it feels as though Seattle could use some new Scholars right about now. On the closing track on their last record, the 2011 magnum opus, Cinémetropolis, Geologic raps the refrain: “Ain’t no America left, it’s all fragments.” It’s but one sentiment here that grows in truth with each passing day. The curiously inventive rolling beat on “Fin” exemplifies Sabzi‘s musical mastery, though I could’ve pointed to almost any of the 15 tracks here for lessons to be learned. This record was an early Kickstarter success story, funded by fans, and generating a pre-album $62,000 in donations over six weeks, and funding a subsequent 33-date national headlining tour.

The strategy allowed the group to film videos for many of the record’s tracks, keeping with the “ciné” theme. I’ve been watching these recently, too. More than one features the duo driving around the town surveying our many eateries and hangout spots. Watching will leave you feeling nostalgic for places gone and those that may soon disappear. But honestly, this album is one of the defining pillars of Seattle hip-hop and should be required listening for anyone in this game. I’m always a sucker for the sweet supportive love song, “Anna Karina” and the opening on “Oskar Barnack”–and later, the bass–which apes the structure of Pink Floyd’s “Money” My copy is oft-played and much loved.

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

4 The Love of Music

Imagine a family reunion where everyone is there. I mean everyone. That means you get to see grandpa captivate people with his charm and wit, and you can hear a few of the aunts harmonizing a lovely new song they just made up, but you may encounter some not-so politically correct language from certain relatives. 4 The Love Of Music contains 17 tracks from across the family of rap and hip hop in the Emerald City as it existed when this comp was released in 2010. The expert curation by Tendai Maraire places tracks by superstars like (his own band) Shabazz Palaces, Macklemore, and Sir Mix A Lot, alongside offerings by other artists familiar to fans of Seattle hip hop. Thee Satisfaction contributes “Queen Supreme” and The Physics give us “Booe’d Up.” Fresh Espresso’s “Sunglasses On” stands out for its synthwave aesthetic, while “What Up Pimpin” by Draze is impossible to dislike, it’s simple and catchy. Unfortunately, there are too many more artists to name them all, but I must mention “Can’t Stand The Reign” by Mash Hall. Clocking in at five minutes and thirty-six seconds, this track is mysterious and inventive, calling to mind a hallucinatory Harmony Korine movie soundtrack. 4 The Love Of Music is one of the most complete assemblies of Seattle’s diverse rap community, and this compilation is a must-own. (This review was submitted by reader Novocaine132.)

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Joe Metro

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!

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Backpack Wax

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!

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

&

The Key With No Lock

This is the laid-back collaborative effort from Ricky Pharoe & Tru-ID, from 2007. Both emcees are adept at fire; Ricky P’s debut album, Civilized, was an angry young paranoiac’s manifesto, while Tru-ID’s one played out like the diary of a poet in front of a dramatic, cinematic score. Here they tune it down a few notches, creating an album together that rarely achieved the energy of either emcee’s solo outings, but instead played out easy like a late summer afternoon.

Neither emcee tries any stylistic acrobatics in favor of relatively basic flows and sing-song choruses. The beats are likewise relaxed and mid-tempo. Mr. Xquisit, Jewels Hunter, and Camila lend their vocal cords, and Budo, Apoulo, Laidback Luke, Stuart Rowe, Graves, and Artistic Propaganda produce. The album was recorded and mixed by Macklemore (who also contributes lyrically to “The Real Kings.”)

Up until recently, I wrongly thought Ricky was getting beef for making this record; as it turns out for whatever reason it was Ricky who didn’t feel it was up to par with the rest of his work. He may not be naked on the news screaming “come and get me” on this album as much as his previous efforts, but I for one appreciate it as a fine stand-alone record, and as my introduction to these two distinguished emcees. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

The Coolout Network

Here’s a full episode of Georgio Brown’s The Coolout Network, from either 2006 or 2007. (This might be Sportn’ Life Swagger Fest from April 2007?)

Coolout hosts Gloria Medina and Royce hang out backstage at Chop Suey and chop it up with the performers, surfacing candid comments and impromptu freestyles from Fatal Lucciauno, D. Black, Mackelmore, and Dyme Def.

There are some great live performances here from big names working small stages early in their careers. “If you weren’t here at Chop Suey on a Tuesday, you missed it.” How familiar does that sound? This scene never really changes.

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

All In A Day's Work

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!

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Progress...

Changing gears a little bit, this is a fine example of some turn-of-the-century Northwest hip-hop. I got this album from one of the band members outside the Paradox theater in the U-District, back in 2001. That was an incredible night; Slug, Idea, and Abilities were headlining, but what stole the show for me was the huge MC battle that preceded them. The winners: Bishop I from Oldominion tied with Surge (not Surge Spittable, just Surge – where are you now?). Amazing. Anyhow, This post isn’t about Surge, or Bishop I, or Oldominion – this is about that CD I picked up that night: Progress… by Elevated Elements. They were part of a huge crew in the Seattle area known as NAPS. Elevated consisted of Lace Cadence, Exakt, Patrick, FingerPrints, and Macklemore (yes, that Macklemore). The CD is surprisingly good, and well worth the money. I still play it now and again. It’s right here on my iPod. Give it a listen – tracklisting in the package, 21 dope tracks deep. All in all, I’d say it was a good night. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Sun To A Recycled Soul

As far as I know this is Gabriel Teodros’s debut, and it’s definitely rougher than his later records. He’s still developing his flow here, but the fire, eloquence, and themes he’s known for are already in place. It’s got that old-school, jazz sample-heavy flavor I love, and the rough, unmastered sound quality I crave in production. Jerm, Castro, and Khingz, among others, guest. It was re-released a second time with a whole bunch of additional guest emcees (Orko, Macklemore, Moka Only, Deps, Patrick, Rajnii). Vivacious music, from possibly the 206’s most impassioned orator. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!