Blueprint, MC Hyphen8d, Feezable the Germ
Columbus, Ohio's world-travelin', Rhymesayin' ass Blueprint is over at Nectar on Friday, March 1, with TH3RDZ (who have a gang of dope music recorded—where it be at?), Fatal Lucciauno (who's apparently recording like eight projects right now), Jewels Hunter (who put this whole shindig together), Nathan Wolfe, and five-piece soul/hiphop band the Sharp 5 (who likely have nothing to do with the SHARPS movement, so keep ye skinheads home). Over at the Croc that same night is the Bay's G-Eazy, whose attempts at melding clean-cut 1950s cool with some poppy bro-rap shit (BEHOLD A PASTY HORSE, my culture) make me want to throw my laptop over the Cascades. Choose wisely.
Let me take this time to pull out a couple local albums I haven't spoken on yet, but meant to. Nathan Carlos Finn, aka MC Hyphen8d (the more metaphysically/pharmacologically-concerned third of State of the Artist), for his first solo tape envisioned a project that culled beats from the '90s alt-radio joints he grew up on. That is exactly the sort of thing that could be the stuff of my nightmares, as a rap fanatic and proud child of the early Buzz Bin era. Luckily for Finn, he linked up with Tacoma's talented DJ Phinisey, who produced the whole damn thing. Earnest and poetic, but self-aware and restrained enough to avoid deep corn, Hyphen8d's Est. 1985 balances emotional intro-slash-outrospection full of references to "Hunter S" and "solipsism" with actual technical rap technique (cadence, different flows, etc.) It doesn't all work all the time: Rappers rapping over "Teen Spirit" are just a huge no-no. While I didn't love Phinisey's flip (what are you gonna do with one of the most recognizable riffs of all time?), it somehow didn't offend me to the core. Hyphen8d and Phinisey do better when they're off of the grunge sacred cows and turning the more '90s pop-alt (Alanis Morissette, Third Eye Blind, White Town) shlock into surprisingly proper backdrops.
Feezable the Germ hails from Chicago but has called Seattle home for a while. His album Along Came a Germ is another one you shoulda heard about here by now. Armed with a sharp nasal tone reminiscent of Young Zee (look it up) and some A-lister cockiness, Germ raps hard, smokes good, and thinks hard about success. His pro flow bounces and slices well, acquitting itself admirably over the beats. Speaking of production, I don't feel like the MC has found the right fit yet, as the beats (I can't find any credits but I believe Gran Rapids' Jay Battle and BeanOne both have some here) are mostly just serviceable, but they do fine as a vehicle for Germ's rapping. His biggest drawback is probably in the chorus department—the hook on the Jay Battle–featuring "Call a Ref," for example, should've gotten ejected—but his verses are way straight. I sympathize with the line "Fuck ya favorite news column" from "Nostalgia," which has a newish video. All in all, Along is a very solid step-out from Germ, an undeniable MC whose promise promises that there's more to come.