by Samuel L. Chesneau

The Northwest proudly showed how strong our b-boy skills here have become at the recent Freestyle Session Special Edition competitions during Bumbershoot. Two crews from Seattle and one from Tacoma made it to the finals, which featured such incredible dancers as Lords of the Floor champion K-Mel from Flipside Brats and Star Search winner Do-Knock from the Supercrew. Circle of Fire ended up battling the Rhythm Bugz from California, and the Dance Broomz went up against the eventual event winner, Flipside Brats, in a very close battle. The Brats brought on some controversy, though, during their last round when they competed against Jeromeskee, Twixx, and Lil Lazy of the Massive Monkees for the grand prize (a trip to Japan and $3,000). When the judges called Flipside Brats the winners, boos of skepticism erupted from the hometown crowd, who thought they'd just witnessed the Seattle crew take it. Despite the judges' decision, though, there's no denying that the Dance Broomz, Circle of Fire, and Massive Monkees showed off some serious skill this weekend with a combination of teamwork and the clean, flawless execution of their moves. The fact that hundreds of people waited out the long lines at Bumbershoot to catch these guys perform just helps confirm that b-boying ain't no fad. It's here to stay, and it's only gonna get bigger.

With all the blatant self-promotion passing for talent these days, it's refreshing when a local artist makes absolutely no effort to get publicity, but would rather allow his or her actions to speak for themselves. There's an Axl Rose-looking emcee out there by the name of Bad Luk who, despite doing a minimal amount of promotional work, is creating a name for himself. I don't know anything about this cat beyond seeing him rock at battles or out grinding, passing out fliers, but I have a lot of respect for the guy. He ain't kissing ass or waiting for handouts, he just does his thing--but when he grabs the mic, he shows a comedic, quick wit and an admirable ability to make fun of himself that's definitely entertaining. This Friday, September 12, Bad Luk is performing in Everett at Jimmy Z's along with the Undercaste posse of UA, Aquino, and Kutcrome. Here's hoping the outcome of Luk's show doesn't live up to his moniker.

This Monday, September 15, Atmosphere (Slug & Mr. Dibbs) will hit the Showbox for their Seven's Travels tour, the follow-up to their highly successful God Loves Ugly spin through the country. Travels, Atmosphere's new album on Epitaph/Rhymesayers, won't be released until next Tuesday, September 23, and I'm not promising anything, but my gut feeling is that I wouldn't be surprised to see advance copies available at the Showbox event. (No word on whether Atmosphere's tour-only Sad Clown Bad Dub 7 will be available either.) Brother Ali will once again come along for the ride in support of the Minneapolis duo, promoting his soon-to-be-released EP, Champion; fellow opener Oddjobs also has some new material available in The Shopkeeper's Wife. And the Micranots--also on the bill--have The Emperor & the Assassin coming your way, the follow-up to their criminally slept-on Sub Verse release Obelisk Movements. (The Micranots are no strangers to Seattle, having been here back in the day, and they have an album dropping with Buddah Tye--together as the Field Generals--coming out on Seattle-based Stuck Records in the near future.)

A small side note: Micranot member I-Self Divine put DJ Abilities on the production end for his side project, Semi-Official, and you can check out their stuff on The Anti-Album. I remember the first time I saw I-Self rock a stage, I was in shock that somebody could have that much energy and that tight a command over a crowd. There were only about 30 people at that early-'90s show at the Beatbox (which included Lifesavas and a young Bishop of Oldominion singing along to such hiphop anthems as "O.P.P." and "Ice Ice Baby" before the show started), but I think it's safe to say I-Self made an impression on all of us. Don't miss his work with the Micranots.

Sleep from Oldominion--who just came off a great set with Battle of Bumbershoot champion Onry Ozzborn--has been busy with his partner Josh Martinez in their collaborative project, the Chicarones. Word has it the Chicarones' most recent tour for their new release, an EP called The Boss Hogs (out on their own Camobear label), has been doing very well, providing the independent artists a little grub for their grind. Never one to live up to his name, Sleep is currently on tour with Onry and Battle Axe Records recording artists Abstract Rude and Sunspot Jonez, all of whom will hit Chop Suey later in the month.