A film about Northwest hip-hop from

The Revenge of OTA Benga

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Goldtooth Squarepants

Goldtooth Squarepants, the latest album from producer Mario Casalini, made its debut on KEXP. The radio station describes it as “an ensemble patchwork… A whos-who of the all-star Seattle rap scene.” Casalini, who wrote and produced the entire EP, takes the mic sparingly, handing it instead to a talented set of features from Wishbaby, AJ Suede, Joey Kash, DoNormaal, Raven Hollywood, and Fatal Lucciauno. UK-based Fame Magazine says the record is “a sparkling collection of Northwestern rap gems.”

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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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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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Disco Christ

Disco Christ, from Raven Matthews, is quite possibly my favorite album of the year. Channeling some of the spirits of Beck’s anti-folk Loser era, this creative and wide-ranging record is an endlessly inventive musical playground. Rambunctiously mixing hip-hop with grunge and pop and EDM, Matthews sings and raps sweetly. You rarely anticipate where the next track is going to take you, but it’s always someplace amazing. Take, for example, the gurgling, carbonated bubble pop of “Soda,” the relentless forward drive of “Don’t Stop Baby,” or the musical round of “Bikini Bottom,” featuring DoNormaal. With each track, I think “This is my new favorite song.” I saw him at The Crocodile a few weeks ago and he was a radical, committed live performer. Go see him if he’s playing near you.

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

DoNormaal EP

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

Jump or Die

Jump or Die from DoNormaal has been making waves since its December 2015 self-release. She has a timeless sound that’s hard to place–a bit lackadaisical ’90s trip-hop, a bit ’40s Billie Holiday, and very, very contemporary 2016. When asking local musicians, friends, and readers who I should cover next in this series, this buzzy underground up-and-comer is an artist almost everyone brought up. The album is free on Soundcloud, so you should go grab it now.

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Mr. Fantastik

I was up in Everett when I came across this Seattle hip-hop gem, Mr. Fantastik by Faded Theory, from 2009. I’ve put all three members of this rap group on vinyl: Mario Casalini, Raven Hollywood on DoNormaal’s double LP, and Max Watters on Gifted Gab’s Cause & Effect. Ten years earlier, they were a threesome of emo experimental Hello Nasty-era Beastie Boys, dropping this seven-song EP with cool Seattle O.G. Neema. It begins with a groovy as hell bass line, as the opening track asks the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Casalini kills the verse here, it’s a boxing match with the beat, sidesteps, and uppercuts. Watters’ guitar on the title track is smooth like taught fabric, and I always laugh when Raven name-drops Sir Mix-A-Lot. Rumor has it that this record–and their other project, HellaWeirdo–was inspiring to a young DoNormaal and was part of what brought her to Seattle. Search for Faded Theory on SoundCloud. Definitely worth a spin to hear the beginnings of three local legends.

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