Some Things Ol-D, Some Things New
Word up, cousin, nigga/I seen it/Like a 27-inch Zenith/Believe it! —Cigar Shallah Raekwon the Chef, "Incarcerated Scarfaces"
Before he started a lucrative service setting up black dudes with older white ladies (you seen them "White Walls" spin), rapper Macklemore admitted to being maad jealy of a couple NW hiphop groups that had broken out of the NW's reaches via MPLS indie juggernaut Rhymesayers Entertainment (on his fantastic 2005 song "Ego"): the now-defunct Boom Bap Project, and their Oldominion cuzzos Grayskul—still rocking close to a decade later, now on their 10th album, fittingly titled Zenith. "Zenith"—if you ain't know, you proudly ignorant, big-word-fearing jum-babies—means the highest point of an arc. Onry Ozzborn and JFK had announced that album title at least a couple years back, when it was going to be their third album for RSE—and at the time, I was like, "Welp, better be their best shit." Welp, it is. Zenith—out now on Fake Four, and FREE CESCHI please—is hard as a Hadoken, fierce as the rightmost punch on Street Fighter 2. (Oh, and thanks for getting off GTA5 long enough to read, genius.) The intro is courtesy of Raekwon... Wu-Tang forever! The Skul spins through several fly chambers for the wardrobe, sonically speaking, including the epic dream-bap familiar to fans of Onry's Dark Time Sunshine stuff, hard-break boom-bap, and Siouxsie-ass goth rock, making for an unmistakably fresh fit. It all sounds unified and single-minded, a nice trick considering it was built on brolic production from Smoke, Marcus D, Kuddie Fresh, PeeGee 13, Aesop Rock, Void Peal, Bruce Wayne, Moodie Black, and 6 Fingers.
Suffice it to say, On and Jeff the Filipino Killer have weathered untold waves of Seattle hiphop, NW scene power shifts, and industry-wide upheavals, and consistently stayed at cats' necks—even more relevant, their newest shit is their best shit, which is the most important thing motherfuckers can say about you. This is sharp blades, bright sparks, loud noise. I mean it, this is the best rapping—scratch, best music—that I've heard from Grayskul, period. "Had to lock in after Rae," Onry texts me—niggas looking like preach! Zenith's CD release party is Sunday, October 6, at Neumos.
Speaking of such: Their Oldominion (and Facefeeder) cohort Xperience aka XP (aka Macklemore's Step Cousin, fresh off two years touring the globe with one of the biggest new names in music) and producer MTK combined forces for the Revelations EP, whose release party is Thursday, October 3, at the Croc with Vitamin D, Nissim, John Crown, Dice, Perry Porter—not a bad opening crew at all—and hosted by Neema. Revelations itself kicks off with a duo of overbombastic cuts that mirror the super-hokey artwork—XP the warrior priest vanquishing mic-clutching demons in a postapocalyptic wasteland. Okay, but after all that, it's butter. XP favorably evokes Pharoahe Monch circa Desire, the beats slap with soul and synth, and Open Mike Eagle, Casual, and singer Ashely DuBose aid the crusade to good effect. I've always thought XP was dope, sans his gothier instincts, and the bulk of the EP (six of the eight tracks) prove me right (and his ease at being a superb, soulful MC). Not that I care about that sort of thing. At all.