Sam Lachow & Raz have officially given you 5 Good Reasons—their joint project, available on DatPiff.com and other respectable digital domains. Raz, you'll recall, turned in what is possibly the realest song Seattle hiphop made in 2012, "They'll Speak (Intro)"—whose bars, I daresay, could've been spit by Kendrick Lamar himself. On the other side, Lachow—Shankbone alumnus—mines in a far poppier, takin'-it-easy-guy kind of vein, and it works wonders for him (young Seattle's earnest-bro rap scene really puts on, "tho"). It ends up a bit of a tug-of-war, vibe-wise—and "Nothing's Gonna Change" is a little too reminiscent of that Nelly/Tim McGraw cut for its own good—but it's still solid. Hit up the triple-threat release party for this project, plus new music from Moor Gang reps Steezie Nasa and Gift uh Gab, at Neumos on Friday, October 5.
I first wrote about Estonian-born rapper Danny Degtjar in 2005, when he was still known as Young Avatar. He had come up under the wing of NW knights Oldominion and the Stuck Under the Needle crew in their full swing—Yo Son! was popping at Chop Suey and Boom Bap Project ruled the roost—while he was still a high-school freshman, among whatever else ("World class trapper, you can't see me," he spit on his 2009 cut "NASA"). Under the aegis of the mysterious Shadow Company, Avatar soon dropped the "Young" prefix, but eventually added the suffix "Young Blaze" in tribute to his incarcerated streets mentor. All the while, he pumped out consistently high-quality product, including one of my favorite locally sourced mixtapes ever, last year's Danny Darko. Recently, Av hit me up to let me in on the fact that he was consolidating his aliases and was now to be known as Avatar Darko, just in time for the release of his 11th (!) full-length release, the sweltering Soviet Goonion.
Where Young Blaze was trap-house-joogin', Avatar Darko is young-Hollywood wastey-face, with a side of urban gothic that slyly recalls his Ol-D roots. Permanent gold fangs on his bottom row, all black everything, copious ink. "Illuminati that bitch/Sacrifice that ho," he snarls on Goonion's intro. Not merely getting over with pinned pupils and paranoia, his roots as a battle MC keep his bars consistently repeatable ("Left on a cruise like Katie Holmes"). Darko's slurry, moody, girl-crazy ghoulishness (sort of a d-boy Cage) brings a 206-gloom-informed take on trap-hop ("Darko"), A$AP-referencing lean-rap ("Purple Cadillac"), and epic Auto-Tuner club jams ("Ghostbusters"). Long underappreciated locally, Darko has finally found a Seattle fan base seemingly (again) ready for world-class grime, a town where Moor Gang knucklehead Nacho Picasso is one of the most popular voices here or abroad. (Nacho pops up for two of the tape's best moments, "It Ain't on Me" [whose video is out now] and "The Scumbag Anthem." Av tells me the two will be releasing a joint mixtape—tentatively titled Brothers in Scum—next spring.) Goonion could serve well as an introduction to listeners just now hip to the breadth of sounds out here, but it's eight years of growth and development that have readied him to step onto a larger stage.