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Reigncraft Volume 8: Sweat Equity

The final numbers are rather impressive! Seven years. Eight CDs. One hundred and sixty songs! Reigncraft was a networking experiment that released compilations of Northwest hip-hop artists from 2003 until 2009. Reigncraft Volume 8: Sweat Equity is the final chapter of this deep Seattle journey. As with the other volumes, everything on the CD is hot, but I will focus on just a few of my favorites to save space.

Billy The Fridge shouts out Reigncraft 8 on his bouncy track “Cadillac Rollin Fat.” This song was later remixed with verses by Barfly and Gatsby, but here you get three entertaining verses by Fridge. From my years of listening to this artist, I have concluded that while many rappers use words simply to communicate, Fridge instead kaleidoscopes the English language in his quest to entertain. He is the Willy Wonka of Seattle hip-hop, and if you haven’t yet experienced Billy The Fridge, you are in for a treat.

Artist LaRue calls for racial unity and solidarity with the track “Rise Up,” and the positive message here is resounding. Sometimes you need a reminder of what’s important in life. The late Zig Ziglar gave us a relevant quote to chew on, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily.” To me, tracks like “Rise Up” gain value as the years go by, while other materialistic or violent songs become obsolete.

“The Myth” by Fatal Lucciauno is a heavy duty tour de force. The beat by B.Brown is grand, evoking the pomp and circumstance of Dr Dre’s masterpiece 2001. Fatal shows why he is perhaps the most complex lyricist ever to emerge from Seattle. “Fixed everything from horse races to court cases,” he boasts. Fatal’s work carries the somewhat divine authority of a writer who wastes no words. Each word and phrase in “The Myth” is there for a reason, fate demands it.

With a sophisticated beat by Mr. Hill, and lyrics of velvet by Candidt, “Life Of A Emcee” might be competing with Greasy Earl’s “New Earl Order” as my favorite Reigncraft track of the entire series. Candidt makes rapping look effortless, and he threads an important needle that many MCs can’t. What I mean is he puts excitement and drama in his voice, but doesn’t have to raise the volume to do so. Additionally, he doesn’t fall in to the common lyrical trap of rote recitation, so “Life Of A Emcee” feels unrehearsed and spontaneous. Congratulations to the series executive producer KNDNM, and to all the artists who ever contributed to Reigncraft. Written by Novocaine132

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Reigncraft Volume Seven: Wake Up

The Reigncraft series of Seattle rap compilations is a wonderful place to start if you have no idea about hip-hop culture in the 206. There are hundreds of artists in our town who put out interesting music, even if the national press only covers two of them. Reigncraft Volume Seven: Wake Up, which dropped in 2008, is just as badass as volumes one through six. Let’s take a look at a few highlights, unfortunately there are too many tracks here to cover them all.

“Start Some S*** Pt. 3” by Cancer Rising is outrageous. A DJ named blesOne had just joined the group, and the song is like a Tasmanian devil chewing on your leg. The combination of blesOne and Gatsby from Cancer Rising would evolve into late-stage Mash Hall, including classic albums like They La Soul. Former wrestler Billy The Fridge drops “Smells Like Hip Hop” as his oblique tribute to Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. Fridge goes meta and references Reigncraft a couple of times in his verse. For instance, “This city is behind me and we’re on a mission, buy that Reigncraft disc and give it a listen,” and “If you don’t know Grynch or the Blue Scholars, then give me ten bucks and I’ll give you two dollars, and a copy of Gotta Do It.”

“Plague Your Mind” by Second Family is interesting to me for the commitment to wordplay, and the relentless grinding beat. Producer Baked Beatz shows restraint, and the track just drip, drip, drips like water torture. I replayed this track a bunch of times, and I still can’t quite put my finger on it. Backing vocals by Latin Rose enhance the gloomy yet dangerously thrilling panorama, effectively capturing the allure of street life on tape.

I want to like “Homelessness” by Byrdie, but somehow the song never comes together for me. The lyrics are a masterpiece, as they explain all the factors that can lead to someone being unhoused. “I speak for the homeless stuck in the streets, every day and every night trying to make ends meet,” Byrdie practically screams on the chorus. You can tell he feels emotional about this topic, and it’s a revelation to hear a rap that isn’t about selfish materialism. Unfortunately, the production seems oddly mixed to the high end, and doesn’t develop an appropriate vibe for the material. With a different beat, I think this song could be more powerful.

Near the end of Wake Up is nineteen year-old Sol’s “Kno U So Well.” This song is lighthearted and fun, and Sol uses his voice articulately and with good rhythm. The vibe is similar to “My Name Is” by Eminem, complete with circus-sounding production and ridiculous lyrics. “Fuck a pistol, I drop an Iraq missile. Leave nothin but your eyepatch, call it the Slick Rick move.” The song is a bit clumsy, but it shows potential for this young MC. Written by Novocaine132

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