There's no escaping racism in America's pastimes. (By that I meant pro sports—not lynching, invading, or any of its other hobbies.) There's just no missing it.
Every year there's a new negro (to use the preferred nomenclature set forth by King Beyoncé) that's been tagged "it." Just find them and you'll hear it—the barely coded language, the double standards, the howls for blood. Even the little bit that filters into my non-sports-watchin' field of vision makes me wanna flash.
How y'all can watch that shit and stay friends? How can something be so driven by Black bodies yet so anti-Black joy, so anti-Black? Celebrating while Black, and just celebrating Blackness, à la "Formation," makes 'em wanna boycott and ban, because I guess the shooting, the drowning, and the poisoning ain't cuttin' it. (But I still love my Jackson 5 nostrils, and yours, to paraphrase the would-be mayor of Baltimore.)
Rule of thumb: If it makes the white tears flow—I'm probably here for it, saved it a seat, and bought it a soda. 'Cause when your kid gets shot, or Boko Haram burns children alive, you can't get nary a drop. Nor can you get hot sauce in most Seattle spots, so keep some in your bag.
Now: Silas Blak is musically muscular, in quite possibly the best shape of his long and prolific artistic life, releasing acclaimed work via the local upstart Cabin Games (whose roster has recently deepened with talent, adding Kung Foo Grip to the team). He's headlining a Rainy Dawg Radio jam on Wednesday, February 10, at the Ethnic Cultural Theatre for those amongst y'all that are UW students, along with double duo sets from neo-cipher-kids Dex Amora and Zuke Saga, and South Side grimies Ghoul and Steezy Buje f Bby.
Speaking of Dex and Zuke, you can hear them both alongside a host of others on Hear to Heal, the newest album from Seattle stalwart Ear Dr.Umz the MetroGnome, who's been producing crisp classic-minded hiphop shit out here for years. If you never left the late '90s indie compilation era, Ear Dr.Umz is your guy—and this, his deepest work to date, is perfect blunt-facing, basement-session ambience, dusty and true-school with the maize at a minimum.
Inside you'll find underground faves from all over the map (but notably packed with local craft masters like La, Orb, and SpecsOne). LA's Rogue Venom perforates a triumphant, crackly track peppered with samples of the legendary Spirit of Truth on album standout "Celebrate My Greatness."
Even though he's dropped a baker's dozen mixtapes since 2007, Kevin Gates's latest—Islah, pronounced ees-la, named after his baby daughter—is worthy of the distinction of being called his debut album, by virtue of some of the Baton Rouge native's strongest in-his-feelings southern gothic sing-rap to date. He'll be at Showbox Sodo on Friday, February 12, with another Louisiana rapper, the excellent and humbly named Young Greatness.
On Saturday, February 13, at Nectar you'll find Onry Ozzborn doing his visual album debut with P.O.S, Grayskul, Kimya Dawson, Rob Sonic, Heddie Leonne, and DJ Graves 33. If you can enjoy all the artists listed in this column, you can sit at my table.