Here we stand, people, witness to our reward: summertime in Seattle, subject of a dozen bad local rap songs. It really is worth the rhapsodizing, though. We've got it all: green trees, blue sky, sparkling water everywhere. Booming high-tech industry. Legal weed (retailing at $20 a gram, so clearly somebody's high), a Super Bowl ring, and cops who will kill you if you don't pay the proper fare on the light rail. Multiplatinum rap acts and high-art hiphop (Shabazz Palaces' Lese Majesty comes out July 29, y'all). An embarrassment of riches—and a couple rich embarrassments.
Wednesday, July 16—if you're not going to see the legendary DJ Krush at Neumos—is the all-ages Home Slice event at the Crocodile Back Bar, featuring Spekulation, whose cracking production work (from the Mash Hall remix I first heard him do to the Seahawks sensation "Bout That Action") and commentary (via his old Bitter Barista blog, among other things) I'm a fan of, if not nearly so much his rapping. The underrated Turtle T of Nu Era is also rapping, along with new Seattle duo Sendai Era and ace Tacoma producer DJ Semaj.
On Thursday, July 17, up at Neumos, Cali is in the house as Long Beach's own Vince Staples—the guy who smashed Earl Sweatshirt's "Hive," for one—will be headlining a bill with Inland Empire's Audio Push (of "Teach Me How to Jerk" and "Shine" fame) and Inglewood's rising Skeme. Staples, apparently a Def Jam signee, is easily one of my favorite young MCs on the national scene—gifted at painting chilling pictures of life lived in the slums of a burning city, without a shred of glorification, succinctly connecting his survival to a centuries-deep struggle. His latest, Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2, drips with references to boulevard battlefields and Bunchy Carter: "Cousin Jerry had a rocket back when Common had you tryna read Qur'ans and go to college—but forget about it."
Some are graduating, still: Brothers from Another on Saturday, July 19, celebrate their college completion with a party at the tiny Rendezvous ("with special guests"), so this might pack out in minutes. Also that night: Kore Ionz plays with Grynch, Geo, and Thadillac at Neumos. At the Crocodile, "White Jesus" Rittz lands with Taylor Gang's Tuki Carter and Seattle's hard-going, 300-signed Raz Simone, who's on the entire 52-city OD Tour. Go show out for another 206-er breaking out. Phonte and Nicolay, aka the Foreign Exchange, play their date-night soulful-bro R&B at the Crocodile on Tuesday, July 22, with Vitamin D.
Last but not least: The god, "the soul controller of the universe," Rakim returns to Neumos on Wednesday, July 23, with iLL Chris (fka Logics/Aye Logics, presumably so as not to be confused with Maryland rapper Logic), Gifted Gab (fka Gift Uh Gab, presumably so as... you get it), and Romaro Franceswa (government name) all backing up the man that most agree is the best rapper to ever do it. This is your chance to see the R in the flesh if you missed him last year. Peace, peace.