Porter Ray
  • KELLY O
  • Porter Ray

On Aurora Avenue, in the remodeled house/marijuana dispensary called "Cesar's Salad," hiphop music plays loudly, and a circle of engineers, producers, rappers, and DJs huddle around Porter Ray like he's a light. Taking in the attention, the 25-year-old Central District MC with the high-pitched voice does glow, a little. The circle huddles because Porter Ray Sullivan, or simply Porter Ray (rap name equals real name), is playing new, unreleased music for the first time. And when it comes to this rapper, whom Seattle hiphop god Ishmael Butler calls "the golden child," that's an event.

Porter's debut album, BLK GLD, came out last spring, and it is one of the must-downloads of Seattle rap music in 2013 (I would argue it is the main must-download, along with ILLFIGHTYOU's debut album). It's an online song bundle that holds together as a complete musical thought, beats working with the rhymes, to showcase Porter's sparkling voice—a light, slangy, and relaxed instrument he should be thanking the stars he doesn't have to go to the trouble of putting on. He has a gift. In conversation, it's the same voice. That's just the way Porter sounds. The highlight of BLK GLD is "Blackberry Kush," a song that's trippy and rainy like Seattle, and deep and compassionate like Porter. You have already heard it if you listen to KEXP's Street Sounds, where he did an in-studio performance and was interviewed by host Larry Mizell Jr. Porter's double EP WHT GLD/RSE GLD—out October 18—sounds just like BLK GLD because it's from the same recording sessions two years ago, and thou shalt download that, too. It's all excellent fall music, jazzy and muted in an underground 1990s fashion—truly something to carve your pumpkin to.

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Porter Ray plays the Crocodile Friday, November 1st.