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This That & Th3rdz

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The Only Forgotten Son

In a podcast interview with DJ Peg, Fatal Lucciauno remembers the first rap that he ever wrote when he was a young child of seven or eight years old. Then he proceeds to spit the verse, which uses the hook, “Education is the key.” Fatal also remembers a second early rhyme that he wrote about having a positive Black identity, despite the legacy of historical American racism.

Fast forward to 2006, and Seattle rap family Sportn’ Life Records was having a huge year. The label put out Cause & Effect by D. Black, an album so heavy that it has been described here at Town Love as a “debate-ending anvil from a talented prodigy.” Sportn’ Life then teased an album from Fatal Lucciauno by dropping a three-song promo CDr. The hard hitting tracks, “Watch My Back,” “You Ain’t Hood,” and “Opportunity (feat. J Pinder),” made an impression on Seattle rap fans, and by 2007, Fatal had completed his debut album, The Only Forgotten Son.

“I’m Here” starts things off like a shot of strong liquor, instantly setting the mood. Before The Only Forgotten Son, Fatal had collaborated a couple of times with D. Black, and early in their careers the two rappers shared a lyrical and thematic gangsta rap lane. Fatal’s delivery on “I’m Here” definitely reminds me of D. Black, and that’s a good thing. The music sounds doom-filled and ominous, and the lyrics are hungry, “So fuck the label, fuck the law, fugitive artist, I just duck and draw.”

“Won’t Change” brings Tribal Productions legend Vitamin D onboard to drop his herky-jerky jalopy flow over a slinky groove. In fact, Vitamin keeps his production batting average high by effortlessly smacking beats like this one out of the park. Vitamin shares some of his life history so we can understand his pedigree, “Raised Democrat, soul child, used to bump Pendergrass, into rap, plus there’s a little pimping in the cat.” Fatal’s lyrics are more defiant, and he stakes a claim to his hood identity which is set in stone. Things get even more gritty on “Don’t Grind Don’t Eat,” and the song reminds us that everyone needs a hustle to survive, whether it’s a legit one, or something more criminal.

My favorite track on the album is “Gangsta Groove.” This absolute classic was produced by D. Black, who made six of the beats on the album, including “I’m Here.” “Gangsta Groove” drops little bon mots and aphorisms alongside punchlines and hard rhymes. With references to David Hasselhoff and O.J. Simpson, the track weaves humor with real talk in a very effective way. Fatal would go on to have one of the most accomplished careers of any Seattle MC, with at least six full albums under his belt. The Only Forgotten Son is another big win for Sportn’ Life Records. Written by Novocaine132

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Life of a Backup Singer

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Reigncraft, Volume 5: Process of Progress

In 2003 and 2004, executive producer KNDNM assembled and released four Seattle rap compilations under the title Reigncraft. In 2005, the fifth volume in the series stepped up to the plate. RC5: Process Of Progress shows that there was no shortage of hungry hip-hop fiends who wanted exposure. “Real Life” by Grynch is clever, as producer Referenz uses the (hot at the time but now quite vintage) sped-up soul sample technique to bring emotion into his chorus. “You don’t gotta be in jail to be doing some time,” raps Grynch, meditating on the power of a positive or negative attitude to change our outcomes.

Two tracks on Process Of Progress are produced by Northwest stalwart Bean One. “They See Me” by Framework is outstanding, listen for the Ofra Haza accoutrements. The song appeared on Frame’s terrific 2005 album Hello World. On “They See Me,” he employs concise, descriptive phrases for his verses, and even tosses in references to other rap songs. “Girl was in the cut, backing it up to Joey Crack’s Lean hit,” and also, “baby shaking it fast like I was Mystikal.” The other Bean cut is “Make A Hit,” by Damian Black who effortlessly distributes the smoothest rhymes ever, like a poker dealer whipping cards around the table. “Well, go ahead and say I’m cocky, but nothing you say will ever stop me, nothing you say will ever top me, nothing you do will ever drop me, just sit back go ahead and watch me, take some notes go ahead and copy.”

For explicit sex talk, look to “Don’t Front” by Twin G. I must admit that the chorus of Aquino’s “Left Coastin” gets me every time. “We pop shots cause we got to, I guess that makes us a pop crew,” with cutting and scratching to enhance the effect. I would have leaned in and titled the song “Pop Crew.” The Block Burners drop a serious heater titled “Big Bank.” At first the song seems overly basic, but different elements weave in and out while the MCs rip the mic. By the end of “Big Bank” you just want to rewind and listen again. Five volumes is a huge accomplishment for Reigncraft, and they weren’t even done yet. Written by Novocaine132

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The 7 Deadly Sins

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Reigncraft, Volume 3: Supply and Demand

Reigncraft Volume One was an excellent showcase of Seattle hip-hop across a broad spectrum of styles and genres. Volume 2 continued the pattern, and gave listeners a taste of diverse rap talent from our industrious, productive city. The third in the series is Reigncraft Volume 3: Supply And Demand, released in 2004. Supply And Demand is as ambitious as its predecessors, and it’s a very fun listening experience.

The first song that stands out for me is “Ra-M-O-S” by No Good Therapy. This one previously appeared on No Good’s 2003 indie CD We’re Back Seattle, which was re-released by California’s Thump Records with the title Come N Get It. “Ra-M-O-S” is a well-produced track from Beezie 2000 with lots of sonic twists and turns. Greasy Earl aka Ricky Pharoe absolutely nails it with “New Earl Order.” The sinister Isaac Meek beat looms threateningly like a second American Civil War. “A lot of people have tried to silence me…all of them failed,” goes the sampled movie quote throughout the song. Pharoe is the master of the sardonic, here he conjures up a maniacal dictator not too distant from George HW Bush.

Ricky Pharoe isn’t the only artist here with an alias. Seattle rap veteran Silver Shadow D gives us “Yum Yum” using his alter-ego Ferrocious. Shadow picks a solid beat here by producer Loop to drop some Jamaican-inspired lyrics in an energetic Patois. Dim Mak create a universe that is moody and full of emotion on “Breathe,” which was featured on their EPoch release. In another sampling victory, “Breathe” fades out to mysterious dialogue, “I studied day and night, to learn of those unseen forces that hold this world together…beneath the surface.”

Gangsta supergroup Lac of Respect bring that Street Level vibe with “They Know.” As a side note, Street Level founder D-Sane also produces “Take This Flight” by Crytical, and “Intro” featuring series host KNDNM on vocals. “Revel In Relevance” by Asun is unique in several ways. Asun is one of the more non-commercial artists to come from Seattle. Each time he goes out, he seems to be experimenting, and always reaching for different themes or flows. “206, that’s what I represent,” he reminds us in the chorus. Volume 3: Supply And Demand has a ton of different tracks to delve into, and don’t forget to check out the top-notch CD graphics by Billy The Fridge. Written by Novocaine132

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Glitta

This 2003 release from Seattle’s Sonny Bonoho needs a little better packaging. It’s a CD single of his song “Glitta,” but the song title does not appear anywhere on the front of the CD. Bonoho uses an alias here, Kutcrome, and includes the title of an album he was teasing, U Gets Tha Boots!, above his name. Once you open the CD, you see that the song is called “Glitta.”

Bonoho uses a very odd voice for this track, nasal and high-pitched, somewhat similar to B-Real from Cypress Hill. The lyrics tell the tale of an exotic dancer named Glitta who “wins wet T-shirt contests gettin sprayed.” She becomes addicted to drugs and of course this leads to a dangerous lifestyle. For instance, Glitta likes to speed on the highway at 100 mph. At the end of the track she has apparently fallen into prostitution.

The track is draped in a dramatic, minimal beat, and the instrumental is included here, along with an acapella. There is an also a remix of “Glitta” which exudes more of a snake-charmer vibe, and has much harsher percussion than the OG mix. The same year as “Glitta” dropped, Sonny Bonoho also had a track titled “4 Free” featured on the Reigncraft Volume Two CD. Written by Novocaine132

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Reigncraft, Volume 2: The Source

Reigncraft Volume 1: The Resources, the first in executive producer KNDNM’s Seattle rap compilation series, came with a mission statement. The liner notes described a pre-Facebook media landscape, “Every artist on a Reigncraft compilation is familiar to their neighborhood, a different neighborhood for each artist means the other artists on the compilation will then become familiarized to each new location.” The idea was an ambitious one, and it succeeded at showing off diverse Seattle rap talent. Highlights included tracks by Willie Will, Ricky Pharoe, AC, and Illy Wonka.

Reigncraft Compilation Volume 2 hit the streets several months after Volume 1, and it contains a whole new list of bangers. “That Boy” by Livio features a Funk Daddy beat, and bragging lyrics full of gun talk. “I pack a Desert Eagle black, I get raw with that, pearl hand four five I’m talkin all of that,” is a typical line. Another lyric could be seen as a shot at Mix-A-Lot, “Why give you a fair chance when you do a dumb job? Go and square dance, Square Pants Sponge Bob.”

Mo-X brings an edge in his voice which adds grit and realism to his gangsta track, “Losin’ Control.” “We Live This” by Mista Ock captures a tense, high-energy tone in the music and lyrics. He accuses other MCs of “playing” with hip-hop while he actually lives it day to day. “Hip Hop Sent Me” shows off the steady flow of Kaotic over a simple, yet very effective Greedy B.D. beat.

Things go a little rap-rock near the end of Volume 2, starting with the hype scratching on “Thinking Back” by Rewind. Then Black Swan’s excellent “Days Gone By” sneaks in the door. The melody and chorus feel rock-inspired, but the verses are solid rap bars. Last on the compilation is “Fly Away,” a hot-air balloon trip to the ether by Cancer Rising. KNDNM was right, Reigncraft Compilation Volume 2 really does hit from every angle, and it offers something for everybody. Written by Novocaine132

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