A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Town Biz Mixtape

No list of essential Seattle hip-hop compilations would be complete without the inclusion of Jake One’s 27-track opus, the Town Biz Mixtape. He dug deep into the crates, surfacing lost hits, deep cuts, and the finest local hip-hop spanning more than 20 years. (From 1989 to 2010, when this CD was released.)

The mixtape is an essential playlist that surfaces forgotten gems and unexpected bangers. My favorite track here is Vitamin D’s “Who That??” feat. The Note (from Narcotik), but there are so, so many solid tracks. Everyone’s on this, from Blind Council to Mash Hall, The Physics, Tay Sean, J. Pinder, and Shabazz Palaces. Listening to Town Biz will leave you realizing how blessed we are to have so much musical talent in our own backyard. But we knew that already, didn’t we? Thanks to Jake One for compiling this so we can spin it on a sunny summer afternoon and feel hella proud.

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Reigncraft 6: Gotta Do It!

Reigncraft 6: Gotta Do It! is a compilation of some of the best rappers and producers in Seattle and the greater Pacific Northwest. The series began in 2003, and Gotta Do It! which dropped in 2006 keeps the party going. Early in Reigncraft 6, two earnest and heartfelt tracks emerge. First, Xperience exercises an easy poetic dexterity in his lyrics to “The People’s Anthem.” It’s a spoken-word-feeling, game-filled pep talk from someone who has seen it all. “Life ain’t all about the fame and the afterparties,” he reminds the listener.

Second is the spectacular “Ego” by Macklemore. His win at the Grammy Awards was still eight long years away at this point, but even in back 2006 he was clearly a superstar. Mack is an artist who found his sweet spot somewhere between street and square and rode it to the top. This track is very mature, and spreads a valuable message that we need to remember. “Ego” was previously featured on Language Of My World in 2005. In retrospect, his jealousy of Boom Bap Project and Grayskul in the track is comical, considering the heights to which Mack’s career would eventually elevate him.

After those two inspirational songs, let’s examine a couple from the opposite side of the spectrum. “Reality Check” by Skuntdunanna is a nonstop blitzkrieg attack, full of sizzling slams and insults. Most of the punches are above the belt, “If I had your flow in my notebook, I’d be asking God, why me?” is one that always gets me. But unfortunately, Skunt sometimes tosses homophobic slurs which can detract from the final result.

Another punchline expert is Livio. For his track “Hit Em Up,” producer Funk Daddy flips Grieg’s 1875 “In The Hall Of The Mountain King,” and lays it with cocking shotguns and hammers blasting. It’s genius, and the rousing music enhances Livio’s hilarious stream of jokes. “Livio’s a madman, what you think a Magnum’s for? Man I’m on some bullshit, I hope you’re a matador,” is one that stands out. “Hit Em Up” can also be found on Livio’s sophomore album Cruel Intentions.

I don’t want to forget dRED.i’s “Freedom 4.” DJ Roc Phella and Kenyatto “Moorpheus” McThomas are the two musicians in this excellent group. This particular track is an anthem about mind body and soul, and the freedom sought by all. The lyrics are very conceptual, yet simultaneously down to earth and useful. “Teach by example, boy, it’s more than something you can preach.” Well said. Written by Novocaine132

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