A film about Northwest hip-hop from

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BADMILK

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Star Stereo

Taylor Hart from West Coast cannabis hip-hop site Respect My Region selected Star Stero as one of the very best Northwest albums from 2020, saying:

Right from the beginning, Blake Anthony shows us that his album, Star Stereo, is a work of art through the first song transition alone. The seamless change over from one song to another is crucial for me when trying to immerse myself in an album. Blake’s range of creativity, along with the Nanostorm radio station concept, also helps me to get lost in this album.

Rhyming seems so effortless to BA as he floats over Croupdawg’s intergalactic beats. From “BIG Rolls” to “4 Bluntz” all the way down to the title track, “Star Stereo,” each song leaves me wanting to hear another. Then, when it’s finished it’s nearly impossible for me not to want to run it back from the beginning again.

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Homebass

The cover of Homebass features an in-motion collage of trees and records evoking the chaotic fury of our times. Do yourself a favor and slide on this six-song, 21-minute project the way you might a pair of immaculately tailored pajamas. Get comfortable and settle in.

Opening cut “OMG!!!!!!!” questions how one reconciles their dreams with reality while nodding to those small pleasures that make the struggle worth it. On a day like today, when the world recoils from George Floyd’s murder, Cypher asks “Do you play it safe?”

Many songs question our individual actions against the status quo while providing an invitation to get to know Greg Scott Cypher better. “They don’t understand me,” he says on “WOO WOO.” As a rhymer, Cypher is a fast-moving dribbler. Before you know it, he’s dunked another lyrical basket.

The album’s centerpiece is “Mi Casa” where, against a whirlwind of background voices and clamor, Greg speaks directly to you with an arresting intimacy in the age of social distancing. Producer Def Dee grounds every track with a deep sense of place using sublime studio skills. You’re there. In the room. As a loping Rube Goldberg beat unfolds on “Mi Casa,” as the wavering rumble of piano interrupts “NuthinToSay” (featuring KFG compadre Mr. Hentvii), and in the yard, banging beats on boards with the gang on “DAY UNO’s.” This cut pulls the slick Rik Rude outta retirement for a feature that Cypher says is an album highlight. It is.

Auto-tuned Greg on “Space” is at first unexpectedly jarring but proves to be yet another of this album’s many delights. Homebass is a solo debut, a clear statement in response to our uncertain times, a chance to hear a familiar voice anew, and a clear contender for album of the year 2020.

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NEWCOMER

This 82-minute feature film is an intimate introduction to Seattle’s vibrant hip-hop underground. It was assembled from hundreds of tiny performance clips—shot for Instagram—into a single, continuous concert mosaic, and stars 93 of the top hip-hop artists from The Town.

Here’s how KEXP describes it in their review: “NEWCOMER stretches the idea of the concert film to an artistic extreme: Sub-minute snippets artfully arranged to resemble a field recording of Seattle’s rap scene, the pieces fractured and pieced back together in a truly engrossing way. The narrative flows through venues like Barboza, Cha Cha Lounge, Vermillion, Lo-Fi, the Showbox, the Crocodile, and dozens more. It’s Khris P pouring Rainier into a Solo cup while he raps; bodies packed into regional landmark ETC Tacoma; SassyBlack improvising a song urging concertgoers to buy her merch; the delightfully awkward dance moves of white people in KEXP’s Gathering Space; Chong the Nomad beatboxing and playing harmonica simultaneously; Bruce Leroy bullying a beat next to the clothing racks at All-Star Vintage; Specswizard rhyming about his first time performing in front of a crowd while standing before The Dark Crystal playing on a projection screen. The film is about the moments we experience—as lovers of live performance—just as much as the performances themselves.”

NEWCOMER was directed by Gary Campbell and was an official selection at the 2020 New York Hip-Hop Film Festival and the 2020 Golden Sneakers International Hip-Hop Film Festival in Hamburg, Germany. Throughout November 2020, the film screened for four weeks on the Northwest Film Forum theatrical screening site in honor of Hip-Hop History Month.

You can watch the full movie below.

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Grey

In their annual year-end critics’ poll, The Seattle Times ranked Grey as one of the very best Seattle albums of 2020, saying:

Whether in the booth or on a canvas, Tacoma-area rapper/painter Perry Porter is one of the most consistent artists in the region. (Perhaps you saw his handiwork on Capitol Hill’s Black Lives Matter street mural or custom charity sneakers for Pete Carroll this year.) Here, the talented dual-threat teams with up-and-coming producer OldMilk, leaning more heavily into his cerebral side as he skates lyrical circles around gliding house beats (“Move My Feet”) and the soulful pitter-patter of lead single “Custom.”

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Life of A Salesman

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2KFG

In the liner notes for this record, music critic Larry Mizell Jr. says “Kung Foo Grip have always been flamethrowers, but lately they’ve been eating straight gunpowder.” That’s the conclusion reached by anyone who’s heard 2KFG: CityArts magazine declared it their Album of The Month in February, describing its sound as “bass-heavy beats, braced with digitized melodies, classic West Coast minimalism and cloud rap.” Respect My Region states it plainly: “The new Kung Foo Grip album is finally out, and it is fire.” The Seattle Times says it is “infectiously cool… a knockout blow.”

Here’s another take:

In their annual year-end critics’ poll, The Seattle Times ranked 2KFG as one of the very best Seattle albums of 2018, saying:

This versatile hip-hop duo have made a name for themselves with explosive live performances, but emcees Greg Cypher and Eff is H show their true range on the Keyboard Kid-produced “2KFG.” One minute they’re kicking melodic hooks that could siphon Sol fans, while getting grimy with Nacho Picasso on the slithering “Risin’” the next. They have the bars to please purists, but Kung Foo Grip are neither boom-bap throwbacks nor cloud-rap play chasers — a group truly cruising in their own lane.

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Vizard

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Solar Power: New Sounds in Seattle Hip-Hop

From UK music mag The Wire: “Fab comp on fab orange vinyl collating 14 leap-off points from a loose collation of Seattle based hip-hop artists and producers. The musical diversity here is ear-popping, ranging from the glitchy dubhop femme-gospel of DoNormaal and Stas Thee Boss and the electro ferocity of Remember Face to the rain-soaked doleful grooves of Jarv Dee. Crucially, the racial and gender mix ensures that the story told never gets dull; the album chops and changes to give an intriguing portrait of 14 artists you’ve never heard before finding their own ways to chart Seattle life and Seattle strength through hip-hop. Fascinating.”

From Michigan alt-weekly Northern Express: “This compilation, complete with its appropriately solar flare-focused cover art, brings together more than a dozen performers from Seattle’s hip-hop scene on a transparent, vinyl-only collection that gives these impressive artists the flair they deserve. Included here are tracks by Jarv Dee, who throws down an unforgettable remix of “I Just Wanna”; Gifted Gab, who mixes up R&B and late ’80s rap-pop on “Show You Right”; and Sendai Era, whose tropicália-influenced closer is an album standout.”

From Dusty Groove Records in Chicago: “A nice primer on the underground hip-hop scene in Seattle, circa the post-millennium teens! Solar Power doesn’t really set out to round up a succinct snapshot of a particular Seattle style and sound, so much showcase how diverse and distinctive the voices and producers in the city are. This compilation has the potential to survive as a pretty vital time capsule of this era in Seattle hip-hop history. It’s a lot more gender inclusive than many compilations, too, showing that it isn’t just a boy’s club – and tracks includes “Know Better” by New Track City, “Stop Calling My Phone” by Taylar Elizza Beth, “Front Steps” by Raven Hollywood, and more on colored vinyl.”

From Portugal’s Rimas E Batidas hip-hop magazine: “A new hip-hop edition with 14 tracks of emerging talent. Solar energy is the motto given to this compilation: The idea that Seattle stays true to its past while using its own strength as fuel for the change and renovation of its artistic panorama. This sonic self-sufficiency, a unique sonic imprint for the city, recalls the old glory of grunge, but it’s now in rap that this engine lies, emerging from a more underground, carefully manufactured sector, in the cellars and abandoned factories that will thrive there for not much longer. DoNormaal, Astro King Phoenix, Stas Thee Boss, ZELLi or JusMoni give voice to the manifesto of a constantly changing movement across the city.”

From Jet Set Records, in Kyoto, Japan: “Out of the city where Shabazz Palaces, Blue Scholars, Macklemore and Sir Mix-A-Lot made their base and their mark, a 14-song limited-edition compilation on orange vinyl. From emerging label Crane City Music, this one introduces you to the current Seattle hip-hop scene. The musicians explore various experimental styles, ranging from R&B to G-Funk. Seven of the tracks are from women artists. The jacket artwork by Seattle artist Ari Glass is also brilliant along with the content.”

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Concrete Waves

A key moment in Seattle hip-hop happened this summer in the shadow of Capitol Hill Block Party—at the rogue Squadfest event happening next door at Vermillion: Kung Foo Grip’s Greg Cypher mounted the hood of a police car and jumped and rapped some much-needed anthems to an adoring crowd.

The next day, KFG themselves host a sellout rooftop event at 95 Slide, so packed beyond capacity that most of us stood down below on the street, listening the way Londoners did on that fateful day when The Beatles played building-top.

Concrete Waves lives up to the promise of this spectacular summer. Production from SCLY (aka Def Dee) feels like cruising down Broadway in a bouncing lowrider. The beat on the first track, “Low End/96 Shit,” is so undeniably, addictively fresh that you’ll find yourself replaying this one song over and over again before devouring the rest. Also of note is an appearance by the rapper Mos Def. He has a verse on the song “How It Sound.”

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Chemtrails

Kung Foo Grip are a wicked band with an amazing live show, and so I’m damn excited they’re playing this weekend at Barboza. In anticipation, I’ve been spinning their EP Chemtrails, which I always connect with Kylie Jenner for some reason. There’s so much to like here—the epic percussive synth stabs of “Zerkin,” and the guest verse from fellow Cabin Games label-mate Silas Blak on “ANTI-Social,” where the spitting and the beats circle each other in the ring, sparring. “Goin Up, Lookin Down” expresses the band’s frustration with breaking through, repeating the mantra “Gas, Brake, Gas, Brake,” a theme that appears again on “Pyramid” in the lines “break it down and rebuild.”

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The New Flesh

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Nine Six Webisode #1

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Growing Up In The Future

These dudes need to be heard to be believed, but it’s like being sent back to the great, grim days of Black Moon, Channel Live, and Mobb Deep. Add to that just the right amount of fresh, new school elements. They’re sick, and their recent mention in XXL magazine as “Ones to Watch” is way more than warranted.

Seattle hip-hop blog 206UP picked this record as one of the “Top 10 Albums of 2013,” saying that:

Kung Foo Grip has graduated from a pair of highly excitable battle rappers to a duo with insight and well-constructed bars. That growth does not preclude Eff is H and Greg Cypher from making some of the most exciting, combustible hip hop in Seattle, however. Growing Up In The Future is the pair coming of age while simultaneously staking claim to being the dopest in their Eastside (Kirkland) environs. “Out Of My Element” is urban/suburban ennui as viewed through the lens of the marginalized youth, and “Tuskegee” is high-strung brag rap featuring Moor Gang’s cleanup hitter Jarv Dee and Brooklyn’s up-and-coming Kris Kasanova.

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Indigo Children: Tales From The Other Side

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Young Seattle

Between 2012 and 2016, musician Sam Lachow created three collaborative short films, each bearing the name “Young Seattle.”

Slightly confusingly, the videos are labeled “Parts 1, 2, and 4.” Part 3 was released as an audio-only track with no video.

Here’s his explanation of the concept: “I make these Young Seattle videos each year simply because I’m a huge fan of all these artists. As a fan, I just thought it’d be badass to put them all on one track. My favorite thing about the Seattle hip-hop scene is that we don’t have any specific sound. There are so many different types of styles in this little city and yet we all fuck with each other. We’re all part of the same culture. It’s fucking cool.”

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Capitalize EP

Seattle hip-hop blog 206UP gave this record an honorable mention as one of their top albums of 2011. They said:

From the land of pristine suburbia (otherwise known as Kirkland) comes Kung Foo Grip and their decidedly un-sterilized update on underground Golden Era rap. The term “old soul” can’t be more aptly applied to these two underage MC’s (Greg Cypher and F is H) who found upstart success as on-the-scene battle rappers. They’ve since moved beyond the corner into high-quality studio productions like Capitalize‘s get-lifted “Def Yoda pt. 3,” a celebration of youth and their own unequivocal dopeness.

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SeattleCali Fragilistic ExtraHella Dopeness

Seattle hip-hop blog 206UP picked this record as one of the “Top 10 Albums of 2010,” saying that:

The album equivalent of a 2-0-6 hip-hop house party, by design SeattleCali wasn’t exactly an official debut LP for State of the Artist, but a showcase for much of the talent in the city. The three SOTA emcees were consistently outshone by their guests and a lot of times the lyrics didn’t seem to make any sense. As strictly a party album, however, there wasn’t one better.

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