Everything Feels Personal
"We need emotional content. Now try again."
Spoiler warning: In this column, I (briefly) talk about Drake. Wait, that's just a spoiler, isn't it? Before all that, though: There's a bunch of great hiphop (and more) being featured at the Decibel Festival showcase for the 25th anniversary of great-music institution Sub Pop Records. These are all folks I have worked with and/or currently work with and forever love, namely the gods Shabazz Palaces, Portland's two-man electro-rock NASA the Helio Sequence, my sistren THEESatisfaction, and Cloud Nice's crowned Kingdom Crumbs. This (IMO) massive happening goes down at the Showbox at the Market on Thursday, September 26. If you like rap, you might also like a lot of the beat-minded stuff going on at the world-famous dB Fest—experiential souls should check out dbfestival.com for the lineup.
Last week in this column, I spoke on a couple people we lost due to suicide and other shit—and in the week since, as we all know, there's been several more deaths, many due to shocking acts of violence. Bad craziness, as Hunter S. Thompson would say. These times are a test, the air charged with desperation and hurt, the communication breaking down—I'd advise you hone your own skills in that department and work on building emotional intelligence in between back-and-arms and legs day at 24 Hour Fitness. As always, I'm talking to myself as much as you here—except for the whole fitness thing. (Pardon my advice-giving, and my occasional shitty joke—such is just my nature.)
Speaking of folks we lost, on Monday, September 30, at Chop Suey is a show dedicated to the memory of Crystal "CK Bella" Robinson—someone beloved by more than a few people in our hiphop scene, including the homeboy Mic Phenom who put together the lineup for this benefit. Songstress/MC Dice, head-cuttin' spitter Spac3man, high-priced rhymer Louis V, singer Christina Pallis, and the Yuk Mob/ Rize Team's Romaro Franceswa (who just started his "No Beat Is Safe" freestyle campaign) all perform, and the proceeds go to CK Bella's daughter, who also lost her father to gun violence just last year. I hate the word "support," as it's usually used by thirsty rappers, but for real... support this. It sucks sometimes that we only really feel like—and understand that we are—a true community when somebody dies.
Now, about that emotional content/intelligence. This is not something that Drake lacks on his third album, Nothing Was the Same (aka EmoThug Motivation 101). Everything feels personal. Every song or verse sounds like it's written for someone specific, no doubt by design. I suspect that in my old age, I am starting to get over my general distaste for Aubrey Graham ("I make mistakes; I'll be the second to admit it"). I mean, how could I not appreciate a line like "I just like the rush when you see your enemy... and you realize he just not in a position to reciprocate your energy." I'll still clown the cornier aspects of the particular archetype he occupies (the terminally thin-skinned cool dude, maudlin and jealous), and even though he is a bit of a Hooters-waitress-lovin' captain-you-know-what, I treasure the palpable, nonstagey honesty in his music. Fuckin' Canadians.