A film about Northwest hip-hop from

The Emerald City Beginning

The Emerald City Beginning was released in 2020 as the first episode in a planned, upcoming series about the origins of hip-hop in the Northwest. The show was created by E-Dawg and Rubik: two Town OGs who certainly have all the right credentials to deliver an authentic portrait of ’80s Seattle.

They sit down with Sir Mix-A-Lot, Nasty Nes, and J-Skee. The centerpiece interview is with James “Captain Crunch” Croone, legendary emcee of The Emerald Street Boys. “Nobody could out-bop him,” says J-Skee about Croone’s skills on the mic. “They were sophisticated. They had no weaknesses,” adds Mix.

Captain Crunch tells the story of how The Emerald Street Boys met: Sweet J stole a rhyme from Sugar Bear, or that was the rumor, and they went off to fight him. In 1982, Seattle-King County Visitors’ Bureau had a contest to find a new nickname for Seattle, and “The Emerald City” was chosen. The Emerald Street Boys were originally named so as to take advantage of the newfound tourism buzz.

You’ll learn about some other of the artists from the mythical start of Seattle rap: Silver Chain Gang, Frostmaster Chill, Big Boss Cross, Chelly Chell, and Supreme La Rock. And you’ll learn how clueless the East Coasters were (and continue to be) about the Northwest. When Nasty Nes first brought Mix-A-Lot to NYC, the record execs said rap from Seattle was impossible, in a place “where there are only horse-drawn buggies and green grass.”

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

The Coolout Legacy

NYC filmmaker Georgio Brown moved to the Northwest in the early ’90s. In 1991, along with VJ D, he founded The Coolout Network, a public access show on cable television that would record the evolution of Seattle’s early hip-hop scene. As Georgio says at the beginning of this film, “we went to the community centers, parks, schools, clubs… Every place that hip-hop was happening… We wanted to cover it.” They certainly did. Coolout ran for 16 years on television, from 1991 until 2007. Various forms of the project continue online to this day.

This particular film, The Coolout Legacy was made by Georgio Brown himself. He narrates and reflects on the impact of the show and its importance to our local hip-hop community.

There’s vintage footage here galore: A teenage Funk Daddy shows off a trophy “taller than me” that he won at a DJ contest, before showing us some of the moves that earned him the victory. Laura “Piece” Kelley addresses the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated rap scene. She often faces the insult that “she can rap pretty good for a girl.” But she replies, “I rap good for the world… And I don’t rap good. I rap well.”

Rapper H-Bomb heaps some well-deserved praise on Specswizard: “Nobody’s been doing hip-hop in Seattle longer than Specs.” We then catch up with the ‘Wizard and he shares a book of graffiti sketches from ’93. The late, great J. Moore shares his wisdom for success and acknowledges the importance of that Coolout played in “coalescing a scene.”

There are numerous live performances and freestyles of Seattle legends in their early days, as well as national acts like Mary J. Blige and Leaders of The New School. Brown talks about encouraging young artists who bravely stand on a stage with a mic and bear their truths. It’s hard. But with Coolout filming you, “every little victory helps,” adds Ghetto Chilldren’s B-Self.

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Wheedle's Groove

During the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, and decades before Nirvana, Microsoft and Starbucks put Seattle on the map, Seattle’s African American neighborhood known as the Central District was buzzing. The soul sounds of groups like Black On White Affair, Cookin’ Bag, and Cold Bold & Together filled local airwaves and packed clubs seven nights a week. As many of the bands began breaking out nationally via major record deals, television appearances, and gigs with the likes of Curtis Mayfield and Stevie Wonder, the public demanded disco and the scene slipped into obscurity.

Flash forward thirty years later, local cratedigger DJ Mr. Supreme unearthed Seattle’s soulful past by finding a dusty 45 single by Black On White Affair in a .99 cent bin at a Seattle record show. By 2003, he had carved out an impression of a once-thriving scene with a pile of Seattle soul 45s, some of which were fetching upwards of $5,000 on the collector circuit. Supreme approached local label Light In The Attic with the idea of releasing an album compilation of his discoveries, and the result was entitled Wheedle’s Groove: Seattle’s Finest In Funk & Soul 1965-75. At the release party, a line of nostalgic 60-year-old fans and funk-hungry 20-somethings wrapped around the block as the musicians inside (currently working as graphic designers, janitors, and truck drivers), reflected on music dreams derailed and prepared to perform together for the first time in 30 years – their performance sizzles.

Narrated by Seattle’s own Sir Mix-A-Lot and featuring interviews with local soul musicians of the era, as well as commentary from Seattle native and legendary producer Quincy Jones, jazz-pop star Kenny G (himself a veteran of the 1970’s regional scene), and fresh perspectives from members of Soundgarden, Death Cab For Cutie, and Mudhoney, Wheedle’s Groove proves that The Emerald City’s got soul.

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

The Cause & Effect

Today, I’m sharing the history of the 2007 G-Funk debut of D.Black, The Cause & Effect. It dropped descended from a line of hip-hop royalty: The son of James Croone (aka Captain Crunch J Croone) of Emerald Street Boys and Mia Black from Emerald Street Girls. As a youth, D.Black was mentored by Vitamin D, then co-managed by Sir Mix-A-Lot’s manager Ricardo Fraiser and Source of Labor’s J.Moore (RIP).

At age 16, he was a co-founder of legendary Sportn’ Life Records alongside Devon Manier, and a driving force behind one of our town’s most important hip-hop artifacts, the 2003 Sportin’ Life compilation featuring Oldominion, Narcotik, Silent Lambs Project, Frame, and others. The label also launched the careers of Fatal Lucciauno and Spac3eman.

So in the middle of this tornado, 19-year-old D.Black released The Cause & Effect, a debate-ending anvil from a talented prodigy. It features production from hip-hop heavyweights: Bean One, Jake One, Supreme La Rock (as part of The Conmen), Fearce, and Ryan Croone (famous for the funky gangsta sound of Squeek Butty Bug’s excellent Really Cheatin’ from 1997). A bunch of cuts were produced by D.Black himself. Every track oozes confidence and certainty. There are so many gems here.

Like most mid-00 CDs, 19 tracks fill the full 72-minute capacity, and there are features galore from Fatal, Choklate, J. Pinder, Dyme Def, and The Parker Brothaz. This a true Seattle classic available on Spotify and Bandcamp. Go listen today.

Here’s a curious twist to the story: Shortly after releasing this record, D.Black abandoned his gangsta roots and cut ties with this project. Years later, he finally returned to the mic under a new name, Nissim, and a new identity as a black Orthodox Jewish hip-hop artist based in Israel.

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Love Saves The Day

Hmmm... There's not a lot of information about this project in the museum encyclopedia. We'd love your help! TOWN LOVE is maintained by an awesome community of passionate volunteers who keep it all up to date.

Do you know something about the history of this record? Do you have a favorite lyric or a favorite memory? Send us an email on why this is one of the great hip-hop albums from the Northwest. Thanks!

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Danger In Your Eyes

This is 2003’s Danger in Your Eyes EP by Seattle hip-hop group Sharpshooters. They were active for ten years, from the mid-90s to the mid-00s. The duo was made up of Supreme La Rock and DJ Sureshot. This particular EP has them going head-to-head with dueling remixes. Supreme’s side is pounded with a four-to-the-floor bass kick. It’s spare—just that and vocals from Christina Honeycut in a reverb-filled room. Sureshot’s interpretation shifts focus to a spritely snare drum and upbeat snap. DJ scratches add extra texture. The two mixes are similar enough that you keep wanting to flip the record over again to compare them further.

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Love Walked Past Remixed

Hmmm... There's not a lot of information about this project in the museum encyclopedia. We'd love your help! TOWN LOVE is maintained by an awesome community of passionate volunteers who keep it all up to date.

Do you know something about the history of this record? Do you have a favorite lyric or a favorite memory? Send us an email on why this is one of the great hip-hop albums from the Northwest. Thanks!

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Twice As Nice

Hmmm... There's not a lot of information about this project in the museum encyclopedia. We'd love your help! TOWN LOVE is maintained by an awesome community of passionate volunteers who keep it all up to date.

Do you know something about the history of this record? Do you have a favorite lyric or a favorite memory? Send us an email on why this is one of the great hip-hop albums from the Northwest. Thanks!

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

EMP: Seattle Hip-Hop

This short film about the history of Northwest hip-hop was shot by Darek Mazzone in 2001. It was made to highlight the local scene as part of the “Hip-Hop Nation” exhibit put on by the Experience Music Project in Seattle.

There’s a lot packed into four minutes, including all-too-brief interviews with Sir Mix-A-Lot, DJ Riz, Wordsayer, Mr. Supreme, Kutfather, Piece, and others. They cover off what hip-hop is and whether or not it’s a fad. Supreme explains the four elements, you learn the story of NastyMix and The Emerald Street Boys, and Topspin does some cool scratching.

At one point, DJ Riz shares the most wonderfully Seattle thing ever: “Seattle was there right from the beginning, close to the origins of regular hip-hop.” Go devote the next four minutes to learning some new knowledge about the culture.

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Neva Scared

Hmmm... There's not a lot of information about this project in the museum encyclopedia. We'd love your help! TOWN LOVE is maintained by an awesome community of passionate volunteers who keep it all up to date.

Do you know something about the history of this record? Do you have a favorite lyric or a favorite memory? Send us an email on why this is one of the great hip-hop albums from the Northwest. Thanks!

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Blessed 2 Mic Check

Blessed 2 Mic Check, the wax debut from Nomad Da Nomadic, is a quintessential slab of NW wax, and in many ways typified the Seattle area hip-hop scene in the late nineties. What that means is basically it was hella dope and you missed it. With production by Mr. Supreme on the title cut, and DJ Sayeed and DJ Swift on the two B-sides, this record is sonically tight – especially Sayeed’s track “Da Movement,” which happens to feature Sayeed’s group Black Anger. “Shantae,” Swift’s slower number, comes with its own bonus, as it’s blessed by local heroine Felicia Loud on the hook. Nomad has no problems holding his own amid all this greatness, and in fact, his direct and gritty flow is surprisingly complimentary to the bombastic delivery of Black Anger and Felicia’s gorgeous crooning. Likewise, the beats fit Nomad’s style perfectly, especially Swift’s dark and sedated track, with its murky organ and vibe loops. From here, Nomad went on to release a couple 12″s in 2000 and 2001, as well as a full-length in 2001. His entire output is strong and worth tracking down. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Comrade

Most people ’round these parts don’t know it, but Washington ranked right behind New York and California on the list of most-prolific states for underground hip-hop releases in 1998. True, most rap fans probably couldn’t name three or four Northwest groups to save their lives (Mix-A-Lot doesn’t count, dude), but we’re coming up, slowly but surely, building a track record with consistently good releases and the label infrastructure to support.

One such label is Olympia’s own K Records, which, along with Impact Entertainment, has dropped critically acclaimed releases from Black Anger, Bedroom Produksionz, and a whole slew of Northwest talent on the 1998 compilation, Classic Elements.

The Silent Lambs Project represents a collaboration between MCs Blak (of Blind Council) and Jace. The duo’s abstract lyrical style is fueled by production from DJ Sayeed, Mr. Supreme, King Otto, and Specs. Though the songs all stand out as individuals, “No J.R.,” “Stand Over Him” and “S.L. Shit” particularly beg to be blended into a soundtrack for your walk through the streets as gray clouds loom ominously overhead.

“Comrade” is the EP’s single, featuring guest vocals from Kendo of Black Anger and a mellow, CTI Jazz-sounding flute loop courtesy of DJ Sayeed. But the stand-out cut of the record is “Paid Poet,” produced by the Northwest’s most underrated beat miner, King Otto. Given a little more bounce and bassline, Otto’s work here could easily transform into mundane jigginess for some type-shallow MC to spit over. Lucky for us, he keeps it more mysterious, presenting a nice complement to Blak’s sedately frenetic flows.

All in all, Comrade is a very Northwest-sounding record. Who knows if the rest of the world can identify with those rain clouds overhead? As long as you have your soundtrack, it really doesn’t matter. Pop the Silent Lambs’ joint in your Walkman and leave your umbrella at home. (This review originally appeared in The Rocket and was written by Strath Shepard.)

Here’s another take:

Few acts come out the gate as strong as The Silent Lambs Project did here. This debut EP from 1998, with the signature abstract, cerebral, and head-scratching poetry from Jace and Blak, devastates from beginning to end. But nothing less should be expected from this duo.

In 1998, both lyricists were veterans of the scene: Jace as a part of Fourth Party, and Silas holding it down in Blind Council. But listening to this release, you’d think they’d been in the same group forever. Both are foils to the other: Blak’s delivery is edgy and filled with tension, while Jace’s floats smoothly and effortlessly over the beat. The two deliver perfection like yin and yang.

Joining them on the various tracks are some of Seattle’s top producers: DJ Sayeed from Black Anger/Bedroom Produksionz provides the title track and “SL Shit”, King Otto’s on deck for “Paid Poet”, Mr. Supreme from the Conmen shows up for “No J R”, and SpecsOne produced “Stand Over Him”. Kendo from Black Anger also shows up on the title track, “Comrade.” (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Classic Elements

Classic Elements was released by Olympia’s K Records in 1998. It contains tracks by sixteen Northwest hip hop artists, including some certified legends. The lyrics are consistently excellent throughout the compilation. These are songs for the mind, and many are vignettes in the true sense of the word, a good example being the captivating saga contained in “A.N.I.T.A.” by Nobody. The production on Classic Elements glows softly like a vintage Edison light bulb. DJ Sayeed (Black Anger) and Brian Weber (Dub Narcotic) both play a large role in shaping the sound of this compilation. Mr. Supreme drops a sublime Twin-Peaks-esque beat for Jace on “What’s Ya Definition,” and Topspin captures a tempest in a teapot with his beat for “Sleep” by Sinsemilla. Every track on this compilation is a genuine artistic expression, and that carries some risk because the performers put their feelings out on display which renders them vulnerable to misunderstanding, or worse, indifference. One of the highlights is “Hip Hop Was” by Ghetto Chilldren, which shines with professional polish among some of the dustier tracks. When you include a track by Source of Labor with Beyond Reality, “Aunt Anna,” and a couple of underground heat rocks from Silas Blak, “Only When I’m High,” and “Blak And Blind,” there’s every reason to make sure this compilation is part of your music collection. (Written by Novocaine132.)

Here’s another take:

Like the four leaves on a lucky clover, four ’90s era Seattle compilations showcase the diverse hip-hop collectives in Washington State and with them your windfall of sounds and explorations: Do The Math, 14 Fathoms Deep, Walkman Rotation, and here, Classic Elements (co-released by Impact Entertainment and K Records). Back then getting the handful of cassettes and comps was a great thrill, and the Seattle area offered up the best. Classic Elements was released at a time when the main place to hear local hip-hop was on the street at Westlake Center or on KCMU’s Rap Attack. Like the title, the classics here are Ghetto Chilldren, Source Of Labor, Black Anger, and Tilson, all offering hits that transcend national radio rap and bring a better class of words and thoughts. Some groups won’t be found outside of this collection – Nobody, Jaleel, 5E, Ski, and Arson have songs that play smooth and timeless. Classic Elements is as relevant today as it was twenty-some years ago. Released on cassette, CD, and on an abbreviated LP – Find it, get it. Good! (This review was submitted by reader Brett Sandstrom.)

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Walkman Rotation

Conception Records was founded in Seattle in 1993 by Sureshot and Mr. Supreme, two enterprising DJs who also performed locally in their band Sharpshooters. Over the next three years, Sharpshooters dropped a couple of projects on Conception, each of which is now certified holy grail status. Then in 97/98, the label flooded Seattle with a ton of banging new hip-hop singles. Walkman Rotation is basically a Conception records compilation that contains the best tracks from that era. Hearing them all together is such a valuable resource and this comp gives the listener instant access to that time period. Jake One and Supreme made most of the beats, and the sound is slow, blunted, and totally addicting. Highlights include “Any Last Words” by Supreme, “Essay On Pseudoism” by Jake One feat. Arcee, and “My Position” by Eclipse. There are two Conmen (Supreme & Jake One) instrumental beats here as a bonus so all you aspiring MCs can practice at home. Walkman Rotation has aged into the 21st century like a fine wine. This is a 206 classic! (Written by Novocaine132.)

Here’s another take:

Ranked right up there, this fantastic ’98 compilation from Seattle’s Conception Records got dubbed to TDK on the first listen, and then that tape LIVED in my tape deck for months. It’s a dope collection of all-Conception artists, many of them from the Northwest, but also featuring cats from places as diverse as Cali, Ohio, and Canada. Producers Jake One and Mr. Supreme pretty much set the screw-faced theme and run the show here, concocting their signature blunted urban atmospherics. As beatmakers go, I always thought these two worked incredibly well together – their beats quite often were placed on opposite sides of the vinyl from one another, creating two distinct, yet complementary moods. It’s one of the reasons Conception wax was always such a pleasure to hear; they were more than just singles–they were cohesive and complete documents, thanks to the ebb and flow Jake and Supreme set down. Another reason for Conception’s greatness, obviously, was the amazing lyrical talent. I swear, there wasn’t a weak verse in their entire catalog. This comp features many of the dopest tracks from Conception’s short-lived output. Fourfifths, Kutfather, Arcee, Eclipse, Third Degree, and Samson represent vocally with tracks off of their various 12″s, with outside production by Samson & Swift on their track and MoSS one of Eclipse’s tracks. In addition, there is exclusive output on this comp from J-Rocc, Diamond Mercenaries, Jake One, 3D, and Arcee. It’s more than just an overview of the label, it’s crucial listening. Period. The CD version was given the Beat Junky treatment, with J-Rocc providing the tracks in mixed form, keeping shit funky. The vinyl comes unmixed, so you can hear each track in its complete form. Listening to it as I write, it’s still as mind-blowing and groovy as it was when I first heard it. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Block Drama

In 1997, when Block Drama hit the streets, all signs pointed to rap group Diamond Mercenaries being the next big thing from Seattle. The hip-hop duo of Black Star and 3D took their name from a 1976 heist film starring Peter Fonda and OJ Simpson. “Introducing brand new casting on your block,” is how the track begins, with a banging beat courtesy of hot new producer Jake One (appearing for the first time on vinyl) and based off a sample from Seattle royalty Quincy Jones. The thought-provoking verses that follow cover quick money made, making deals, street survival strategies… “Crime’s my only topic.” The vinyl-only “Block Drama” single was the seventh release from hip indie label Conception, founded only a few years earlier by superstar DJ Supreme La Rock, Shane Hunt, and The Flavor’s Strath Shepard. And yet… Despite much promise, heaps of praise from critics and DJs, and a rumored full-length album recorded and ready, Diamond Mercenaries only ever released this single and a couple of other standalone songs, none of which are available online today. Conception folded not long after and that album never materialized. Diamond Mercenaries blazed bright like a match for only a moment in time. In an interview in The Rocket, Black Star says, “If we get on TV, that’s cool and all, but I ain’t doing it to get on a video. I ain’t doing it to flash gold and diamond rings and all that. I’m doing this to make y’all rock. That’s what I love to do.”

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Earth Wind & Fire

From ’97, here is the lone single by Cuneiform and Sub-Zero (AKA Trust and Nickle Slick, at least according to the interwebs), collectively known as Fourfifths. I’m not sure where these cats are from, but this release was on Mr. Supreme’s Conception Records, so the chances are they were Seattle emcees.

Side A contains the Remix of “Earth, Wind & Fire,” with an early production effort by Jake One. Side B has the original version of “Earth” as well as “The Science,” both by Supreme. I’m struck by how different the two versions of “Earth Wind & Fire” are from one another. Jake One’s beat gives the track a slinky, nocturnal, and dangerous vibe, while Mr. Supreme’s trademark penchant for melancholia turns the song into a world-weary grind. Oddly enough, Supreme’s beat totally wins out. (In fact, I think it’s one of the best cuts he’s ever done.) It’s an infectious and beautiful track with a melody that sticks with you.

Apart from this 12″, Fourfifths can also be heard on two of the best tracks from the Sharpshooters’ Choked Up (“Analyze” and “Trust No One”). It’s a shame that they didn’t go further, because as their slender output attests, they were heat. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

General Inna Penitentiary

From Conception Records back in 1997. DJ Sureshot and Mr. Supreme on deck. Sureshot produced the A-side, while Supreme provided his ample programming skills. The Diamond Mercenaries show up to add flavor on the b-side, where Supreme handled all production duties. This dancehall-infused 12″ is sadly all Selassie I Soldier ever released commercially. I say sadly because both the original and remix are truly infectious tracks. More dope Seattle flavor that went under the radar. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Better Days

This three-song EP from Third Degree was recorded at both Audio Genesis and Mr. Supreme’s Wax Museum in Seattle, WA. I wish I had more insight into MC Third Degree, but this guy has flown under my radar since I first heard this back in ’98. He name-checks Seattle, South Carolina, LA, and a few other spots along the way. I don’t think he ever released anything else, but then again, maybe he did. Yep. I know nothing. In usual Conception fashion, Mr. Supreme provides the beat for the excellent “Better Days”, while Jake One handles production duties for the flipside (“Uprising”). Third Degree definitely broadcasts his influences in his delivery (think Smif N Wessun), and Jake and Supreme cater their beats to fit. Actually, listening to Supreme’s music you can tell he’s a big fan of Boot Camp as well. In any case, the record is dope: This is timboot-stomping and infectious music. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Choked Up

Here is an entirely terrific album of grooved beats, laidback flows, judiciously selected samples (lots of funky jazz), and first-rate production. The fact that it’s by two locals–Mr. Supreme and Sureshot–means a modern hip-hop collection that it’s the first album to offer the full scope of a Seattle hip-hop band over the course of an entire LP. instead of a narrow glimpse, like those offered on recent Seattle hip-hop comps 14 Fathoms Deep and Do the Math.

Choked Up starts with an absolute wallop as “Lifted,” an organ vamp with a beat, intros the LP. The first real song, “Heavyweight,” features a fat, acid jazz horn chart squatting on top of strong percussion. There’s a taste of entirely palatable turntable work as the first impression hits like a bolt from the blue: Could this be jazz and hip-hop? Could this be really, really good jazzy hip-hop?

The third track establishes the legitimacy of Sharpshooters. They begin with “Analyze,” a drifting, underwater beat just long enough to set the stage for the boss rhymes of Trust (The Soul Trooper). At this point, the album is about perfect. Three fat tracks, not a dud. When Trust drops a thoroughly chilled line about our favorite hoops team, it seems just like hip hop heaven.

The LP rolls, moving easily forward instrumentals dovetailed perfectly wh the raps. The beats are brisk, the horns well-tempered, the flows right on production huge, and the guest appearances (Kylea, Wordsayer, and Mad Fanatic) add to the album while not subtracting from the band.

Presently, there is a load of overhyped hip-hop from which to choose. Much of it, especially from the big-name, big-image rappers, doesn’t measure up. This record delivers. The fact that they’re local and sending shoutouts all over town is just gravy. (This review originally appeared in The Rocket and was written by S. Duda.)

Here’s another take:

Choked Up was originally released on Conception Records and later reissued on New York-based Shadow Records. In the time they were around, Shadow managed to introduce some of the most memorable and enduring acid jazz records to the American audience. DJ Krush had his American debut with his album Krush, as did DJ Cam’s Mad Blunted Jazz. Funki Porcini, 9 Lazy 9, Dj Food, and Up, Bustle, and Out were just a few other notable names on Shadow’s roster. Shadow was distinctive and catered to a specific audience who was into trendy, late-90’s trip-hop and acid jazz. Although the Sharpshooters were a Northwest group, I probably wouldn’t have known about them if they hadn’t been part of the Shadow Records family… Even if I did live in the same city as them.

The Sharpshooters were a duo consisting of Seattle producers Mr. Supreme and DJ Sureshot. Supreme distributed their work on his own indie hip-hop label, Conception Records. And, although they were local, Conception at that time was just starting and had some steam to build still. So, it was through a distribution deal with a label that specialized in waking up American audiences to foreign artists that I heard about a group and label that lived a couple of miles from me. Their sophomore release, Choked Up, is a cool, blunted slab of jazzy hip-hop. Flutes, saxes, and vibes dominate the mix as much as the drum loops do, creating a smoky blend of coffee-house jazz hop. Vocal guests including Four Fifths, Mad Fanatic, and Kylea from Beyond Reality add flavor to a few select tracks.

I have an idea. Do yourself a favor; save this record for the summer. Put this on a playlist along with other like-minded albums of the time (Krush’s self-titled record, Digable Planets’ Blowout Comb, and Guru’s Jazzmatazz vol.2 are good recommendations). Find something pretty to look at. Then sit back in the evening, let the records play, and see where you go. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Buck The Saw

The Sharpshooters let us have just a little bite of what they were dishin’ out on 1993’s acid jazz Home Cookin’ compilation released a few months back. It was rich and luscious, but only a taste; turntables, organ, sax, bass, drums all groovin’ on a new kind of jazz high.

I don’t want to scare you beat-lovin’, street-sign shakin’ folks away—I use “jazz” to describe these locals because it’s the quickest way to give you an idea of what they have accomplished on this slab. Just about all the cuts on Buck The Saw would rock the foundations on any club in town. Still, this ain’t much more than an appetizer. Barely over 26 minutes at best. You really start sweatin’ to the smooth textures created by Supreme and Daddae Chill when, like a climax without orgasm, it’s over. Well, it only leaves you wantin’ more. (This review originally appeared in The Rocket and was written by Scott Griggs.)

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Massacre Remixes

Hmmm... There's not a lot of information about this project in the museum encyclopedia. We'd love your help! TOWN LOVE is maintained by an awesome community of passionate volunteers who keep it all up to date.

Do you know something about the history of this record? Do you have a favorite lyric or a favorite memory? Send us an email on why this is one of the great hip-hop albums from the Northwest. Thanks!

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Brother From The Projects

This is a rare one. Seattle rapper MC Class released this classic NW tape back in ’93. Recorded at Shoreline Community College just north of Seattle (and where I went to school for audio engineering), these six songs evoke hip-hop’s golden age. Guest emcee Legacy shows up on one track and Supreme supports with beats on at least a few of these tracks. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

See Level 1991-1993 EP

In 1992 when Seattle rap supergroup Brothers Of The Same Mind broke up, the five members each went their separate ways. The following year, MC Class dropped a solo six-song cassette called Brother From The Projects and a vinyl 12-inch of “Hope You’re Listening” with “Fishin.” A label called Chopped Herring put out an MC Class EP called See Level in 2014, which revisits some of his best work.

First on the A-Side of the Chopped Herring release is “See Level.” This track sinks into a very visual ocean theme, the listener is fully submerged in the language. “Hope You’re Listening” from the 1993 12-inch is next. Born Supreme produced it and the drums are straight-up off the hook. The lyrics contain name checks of Boogie Down Productions and Public Enemy. After that is “Fishin,” which was also released in 1993. MC Class is one of the smoothest all-around rappers ever in Seattle. His voice is chilled like a bottle of sparkling water, yet still undercover gruff like a Kodiak bear. “Fishin” has that groovy “Jazzmatazz” magic, and the lyrics are full of metaphors about life lessons and trying to live with less daily stress. It is a good companion piece to “See Level”, because they are both about the ocean as a theater for our lives. “See Level Acapella” is the last track on Side A.

The B-Side starts with “Trippin,” found on Brother From The Projects. Just a hint of the Edie Brickell folk staple “What I Am” emerges softly through the beat. Class is once again getting philosophical about life, finding answers to the big questions. The piano-based melody is soft and light. Next, we have “Brother From The Projects,” an autobiographical song containing real events that Class went through, which makes it highly relatable. Then the B-side gives us two bonus tracks from pre-breakup Brothers Of The Same Mind. “Soul 2 The Rhythm” is one of the most energetic tracks from BOTSM, and the song was featured on the group’s self-titled 1991 cassette. The production is heavy like a construction site: Hard hats are required. The last track on Side B is “Step Up To The Mic” which is the previously unreleased BOTSM track here. “Step Up To The Mic” is a posse cut on which Tracy Armour and Dwayne Tasker join Brothers Of The Same Mind on the microphone. Lots of bars here, very dense concepts and lyrics to chew on.

Postscript: The Brothers got back together in 2021, and re-released their expanded album from 1991 titled Gotta Have Style on Dust and Dope Recordings. The group has plans for an upcoming release of new material recorded in 2021 and 2022. (Written by Novocaine132.)

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

&

Beyond A Shadow Of A Doubt

This lost album was supposed to have been released in 1989.

On the heels of their success with 1987 song “King In Def Poetry,” buzzy production duo Incredicrew—Cornell “CMT” Thomas and Danny “Dee Rock” Clavesilla—signed a multi-album deal with Chilly Uptown’s label Ever Rap, with the intention they’d be in-house producers for a number of upcoming hip-hop projects. The first of these was a one-off single by Nerdy B and Chelly Chell called “He’s Incredible.”

It was one of Seattle’s first major rap songs with a female MC, and it was a big hit locally. Nasty Nes said that when he played the song on his radio show Fresh Tracks, his phone lines lit right up with requests to hear it again.

Based on that first single’s hype, Nerdy B, Chelly Chell, and Incredicrew went back into the studio to record a full album of furious scratching and charming verses. One of our favorite aspects of this vinyl is how elements from the song “He’s Incredible,” reappear throughout many of the other songs as a repeated motif.

However, financial troubles with the label’s distributor meant this 1989 project—and the whole Incredicrew deal—was shelved and these master tapes sat forgotten on the shelf for 31 years. The Beyond A Shadow Of A Doubt tapes were finally rediscovered, remastered, and released by Ever Rap on vinyl in 2020.

It’s hard not to wonder how Seattle’s early ‘90s rap landscape and this early “NastyMix” era might’ve looked quite different had this record been released as planned!

This vinyl contains 11 tracks of Nerdy B’s furious scratching and Chelly Chell’s clever rhymes. There are also two versions of their classic hit, “He’s Incredible,” a song that got Nasty Nes’s phones ringing off the hook. Against a backdrop of Nerdy B’s furious scratching, Chelly Chell raps hypnotically, “We got beats and bass, yeah, now we’re on wax… Now how ya like that?!”

It may have taken 30 years, but yes, finally.

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!

A film about Northwest hip-hop from

&

King in Def Poetry

On his 1986 single, “I’m A Trip,” Mix-A-Lot positioned his computer music against the threat of talented turntable DJs. One Seattle rival were Incredicrew, a duo of teenage wunderkind producers: Cornell “CMT” Thomas and Danny “Dee Rock” Clavesilla, who we’d later come to know as Mr. Supreme.

This vinyl is one of the few early-period hits from ‘80s Seattle rap that’s doesn’t originate from the Mix-A-Lot/NastyMix camp. As a teenager, Danny Dee was a talented BMX rider. He toured around the country and was exposed early to NYC’s new breakdancing scene, years before the rest of the Northwest got hip to hip-hop.

Once home, he’d practice his own samples and scratching and breaks, eventually becoming official DJ for The Seattle Circuit Breakers, one of the Town’s first major breakdancing troops. Not long after, he and CMT formed Incredicrew, and they began producing beats for local rappers.

This was their first vinyl, with M.C. Kid P, a Reno-based rapper who spends most of his verses introducing the band and praising his DJs: “Yo Danny Dee Rock, show ‘em why your hand is like a knife…” In turn, Danny smacks down numerous sequences of famous samples, hyping up the party ever higher. It’s a fun song, presented in three versions. The B-Side cut “High Powered Hip-Hop” celebrates CMT’s work on the drum machine with a descending, dark sub-bass melody that dominates the tune.

Two fun facts: Incredicrew appear in Mix-A-Lot’s “Posse on Broadway” video as the rival crew in the infamous Dick’s parking lot scene. And this Incredicrew project was recorded in the very same room where, two years later, Nirvana would record “Bleach” and usher in the Tsunami that was Grunge. For a brief sliver of the waning ‘80s, rap had become Seattle’s primary musical export.

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!