A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Dopemuzik4thehead

In 1985, a local Seattle musician named Rodney Jones decided to create his own rap label called JROD Recordings. By 1988 a rapper (MC 3-D) and DJ (DJ 2Smooth) duo by the name of P-D2 was the first act on the label. P-D2 released a cassette single in 1988, and vinyl singles in 1989 and 1990. In the Summer of 1990 as they were shopping a full album titled DopeMuzik4TheHead to major labels, MC 3-D had to step away from the rap game for a while to take care of some personal business. The record sat unreleased until 2021, when Ever Rap Records licensed the album from JROD Recordings and released it on wax.

DopeMuzik4TheHead contains a very traditional style of rap for 1990, a year which many would consider deep in the middle of rap’s golden era. The beats are sampled, arranged, and stacked by 2Smooth on his Studio 440 sampler/sequencer. MC 3-D brings an early ’80s tone to his delivery, with swoops from high to low similar to Emerald Street Boys. He raps about crime and gangs in the neighborhood, and also about getting ahead in life and staying dedicated to your dreams. His verses are rather poetic, easily bouncing from party to politics to pure rhyme skill. One standout track is “Trash Environment.” In this format shifting masterpiece, 3-D’s voice thunders over a rap rock hybrid beat as he laments the decay in community values he sees around him. “Suprize” is a party classic which deftly samples “Hydra” several years before Black Moon popularized the sample on 1993’s “How Many MCs.”

P-D2 were an early force in the Seattle rap scene, and the re-release of their record should help to establish the importance of their work. Two years after DopeMuzik4TheHead was completed, P-D2 dropped their Flavin In Bumpcity cassette featuring a new rapper Willin alongside DJ 2Smooth. MC 3-D had not yet returned to his rap career. The two rappers did not share a similar style, which gives Flavin In Bumpcity a very different feel than the material with 3-D. As a postscript, MC 3-D aka Bobby Stills continues to rap into the 2020s using his new moniker Unko Gazz. Written by Novocaine132

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Surprize

In 1989, Seattle rap group PD2 dropped the three-song single “Surprize” in 1989 on their own label JROD after a successful West Coast tour with Harlem’s Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock.

The beats are courtesy of DJ 2 Smooth, with verses from MC 3-D, who describes their underground sound as something you might find at the tail end of a mixtape. He raps, “This is the new age, a new stage in rapping, rhyme is the new way to make things happen.”

Indeed, 2 Smooth’s production is unlike anything you might’ve heard from NastyMix at the time: His samples clash and collide, hitting off the beat, not always in tune, lending a truly funky vibe. (Hence the “Surprize.”) The songs often take their time to settle into a groove, but once they do…! Your head will be nodding for sure.

In an interview with The Rocket at the time, 3-D describes their politics: “Hip-hop is a tool and a ticket for minority youth to excel and conquer their dreams. People have to be able to move their feet before they can hear a message. The Black male is becoming extinct because of the drug situation. We have the intellect to articulate that. The music is the platform.”

This message is best exemplified in the EPs third song “Crack-In-The-Box.” It’s structured like an extended skit that takes place at an imagined drive-thru, where instead of pushing fast food, the government sells low-cost crack into Black neighborhoods. Politicians are “playing the kingpin” in an effort to disenfranchise their community, and it’s time to rise up in response.

(Addendum: MC 3-D, aka Robert Stills, was replaced by MC Willin’ on later records. He also is not the only Seattle rapper to use the name. In 1997, a very different emcee named 3D (Damion Reed) rapped with group Diamond Mercenaries.)

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