Last night, Caitlin Brower and Erika White announced on Facebook that March 8 was Jonathan Moore's last day in this world. Moore—who has one son with White and one son with Brower—played a central role in the construction of a hiphop platform that made local hiphop a reality for hundreds of artists, including, of course, Macklemore. Before Moore (aka Wordsayer), underground hiphop was mostly on the periphery of the city's club scene. After Moore, it was at the center. The transition to mainstream venues gave lots of artists access to larger audiences. Moore, whose deep and long hiphop history I detailed in 2005 in the story "A Source for Seattle Hiphop: Jonathan Moore Continues Building on Our Brand," was 47 at the moment of death.
The last time I saw Moore was two weeks ago (February 22), at around noon. I had just crossed Pine Street on 9th Avenue when I heard my named called with great gusto. I turned to my left and saw Moore emerging from a white car. He was nothing but a big smile that was pleased to see me. We hugged and he asked how I was doing. I gave him a quick update of my condition, and asked for his (I knew he had been in a fight for his life for the past year). He said he was fine, and he did indeed look fine. He then indicated he had some business to attend to in the direction of the Paramount Theater. "See you soon" were the last words he said to me.
As he dashed across the street, I thought about stopping him and asking what he was up to, because Moore was always up to something, and usually that something was big and news-worthy. Since 2002, he had been less a performer (he led the groundbreaking crew Source of Labor in the early 1990s), and more a manager and entrepreneur who often worked closely with the businessman Marcus Lalario. For a time, he also ran a gallery space and studio in Belltown. And the last big thing he was working on concerned increasing black involvement in the legalized and booming pot market. What was he up to now?, I wondered, but failed to ask him at that moment by the Paramount because he seemed to be on a mission. I will catch him later, I thought, and left him at that spot, that corner of the city, that brick wall of the theater, that time of day, that color of the light for the rest of my life.
In July, The Physics and Jake One held a benefit show at the Crocodile to raise money for "The Moore Family," which had been hit hard by medical costs "associated with Jonathan's on going bout with kidney rejection." Six months before that event, I saw Moore, also known as The Mayor, DJing at Fat's Chicken & Waffles. (The general manager of Fat's is Erika White, also known in the 206 scene as Beyond Reality.) Though he had just come out of another tough battle with death, he was completely absorbed by the fresh beats spinning on his computerized wheels of steel. This was his life, this music, this black American music. And when he played a beat, there was no past or future. He was completely in the time and beauty of the music. "In this city where it rains all day, I'm still looking sunshine, hey." Wordsayer 'til infinity.