Despite what those not really paying attention would say, Seattle hiphop has had another great year, full of big shows and dope releases that helped elevate it's national profile. 30 miles to the south, though, the City of Destiny has been humming, with a new crop of MC's stepping up to capture Tacoma's distinct character. A little look back after the jump.
This is far from definitive, of course, being that I live in Seattle and maybe haven't heard your cousin's mixtape. Also, I'll give myself a pre-emptive "tl;dr".
Spaid, a dope street spitter with a touch of Scarface in him, heavy hitter in the Soul Gorilla/800 LB crew, released a weeded teaser video and song after song after song produced by Vitamin D, from his Clarity release that has yet to see release. Collabs with Dyme Def came out around the time of that group's Sex Tape release. Somebody put out an APB (musically speaking, mind you) on this dude stat!
Fice, kind of the Tac's answer to Macklemore, released "Two Five Three", a single that could well be an answer to "The Town". (I say that not to continue the old Seattle/Tacoma sibling rivalry at all; on this song, there is simply a stylistic and topical similarity between the two.) It's video is a 253 cameo-fest, it's intro ties the city's hiphop scene to a voice anybody can recognize: Neko Case. In August, Fice graced the cover of City Arts' Tacoma edition. His debut album is long-awaited enough that people joke about how long it's taking; the work of a reputed perfectionist, it might just make some noise round here when it drops.
Wry rapper EvergreenOne and producer/MC Todd Sykes (with DJ Slimrock, later Life Cycle's DJ Hanibal) cliqued up to make City Hall, then proceeded to drop some great stuff- a mini-EP and debut album of shambling, thoughtful drinking/smoking/working man's boombap (downloadable here).
A new City Hall project may be in the works, and EvergreenOne is currently recording his solo album with 253 producer Truss One, who's been known for churning out heat for a long time. A recently-released preview:
Doughkain, of 253 collective BlockRepp, dropped a project with producer BoomBox Massacre, and shot a video with fellow Tacoman Leezy Soprano and the CD's own Fatal Lucciauno, who reps "from Chop Suey to the Clipper":
Then Leezy Soprano had to go and drop this smoldering rock, seriously one of the best NW street tracks of the year:
Gangsta lyricists Second Family, who's Caskets & Funeral Homes originally dropped in 2009(but re-released this year with bonus tracks and a new cover), released this video for their "Bout A Swag", featuring ginger rap terror Jay Barz (who's otherwise been kinda quiet on the music front):
Second Fam's strongest half Element recorded the track "Say What's Real" over a moody Drake banger; you can positively hear his frustration spilling out of the speakers.
The confident MC Gazmo the Gr8 dropped two dope mixtapes called The Gazmo Show and the accurately titled IBeast, both demonstrating the ease with which he can eat up a good selection of industry beats. I'm definitely looking forward to hearing an original project from him in 2011.
Rapper John Crown linked up with Sportn' Life MC SK and remixed a Freeway/Jake One track to good effect. A few months later, Crown brought us the Before I Wake You Up EP, which has quietly become one of my favorite local releases of the year, full of promise, not to mention mucho confidence and sensitive storytelling over simply-lovely soul scraps. I fully recommend downloading it at his Bandcamp. A highlight:
A new song, "Be's That Way", recently debuted, off of his upcoming mixtape Coffee and Beats.
MC/all around hustler Logics made it a point to connect the 206 and the 253; all over his 2010 mixtape Clarity (yes, same name as the unreleased Spaid project), Elz gets cats like Fice, Spaceman, Leezy, Grynch, Twin G, Geo, and Brainstorm on the same track, in a generous act of Puget Sound unity.
A young cat named Roderic, who's won competitions from Redmond to the Apollo, and who last year popped up on BET's 106th & Park to compete, got Jon Jon Augustavo to lens a video for his sly single "Freshman".
Roderick also appeared in this Digable Planets-jacking ad (filmed in Columbia City) for the US Census this year, along with members of the Tac-based Chamorro rap group Island Trybe, who's hood&B jam "Bangin" I'm a fan of. Sadly, the Trybe lost two of it's members, Les "Les'sonz" Alo and Doug "Kuzzin Pizzo" Norris Jr., this year in just a couple of months.
Rapper/producer/songwriter Clemm Rishad signed with Univeral this year, and popped up in the credits of Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday, apparently co-writing her Rihanna-featuring 'Fly". His own music (such as this year's mixtape Back To The Paper) is quality stuff, and I hope to hear more soon.
And it don't stop. 206Proof's illegitimate brother (haha) 253hiphop is the scene message board, where music is premiered, where venues are bitched about, where people talk their shit. Last year they put out a freely downloadable sampler of Tacoma artists, some of which I've mentioned here. Vets like General Wojack(the OG of Tacoma rap) and spoken word MC Josh Rizeberg are plugging away, collaborating and releasing their own stuff; young artists like the crew Darxiide push hard online with a wealth of slightly-bugged but needing-work underground shit. A group called Tacoma Aroma made a very based video for a completely ridiculous song called "I Need Food" that is infuriatingly now private on Youtube.
So just keep it going, Tacoma. (Same to you, Olympia, Bellingham, Vancouver, Boise, Bend, Portland.) It seems to me that NW rap music is on the rise, hopefully someday resembling something self-sustainable. We need this!