I feel some internal pressures—not just the gassy kind, though those are definitely present—to review some local releases, some new, some that I haven't yet spoken on. Join us for the lightning round.
Billy the Fridge's Old Fashioned features the keen rapping that Fridge has always demonstrated, and which Fridge explicitly wanted this album to showcase—with contributions from MTK, Sabzi, and Jake One, all producers seemingly handpicked with the intent that Fashioned be taken seriously. Well, the guy still wears a rubber doughnut on a chain around his neck—and while Fridge is undeniably in possession of some great punch lines, clever wordplay, and proper beats, he lacks any kind of subtlety, from vocals to the frenetic beats. As a result, his songs do bear a certain steel-chair Juggalosity, no doubt by intent. Yes, he takes a good-natured shot at me on "Just a Bill," one of the album's better tracks, and I love him for it.
Notorious Shoreline-based NW G-rap dynasty, the house that D-Sane built, Street Level Records is back on deck with its newest artist, Rainier Beach–raised Mac Minati (fka Mac Gamer), who just released his Paranormal Mactivity mixtape. Minati's blunt-object flow isn't the most adept, but he's able to switch it up, speak from the heart (always in demand), and display enough wit to keep it interesting (hardly surprising to find, then, that he also moonlights as a standup comedian and actor). My favorite moment is the slow-rolling, G'd-up janet. of "Don't Care" featuring Lac of Respect's own A-Train.
Since early this year, Tacoma producer/engineer/artist DJ Phinisey has been dropping collaborations with a plethora of Cascadian talent, from PDX to the Tac to Seatown, garnering NW blog love and spins. He's at last compiled all these and more to form his debut LP, PHINISEY, which I'd like to imagine Tupac saying. PHINISEEEY. Operating out of his Remedy Recording imprint, Phinisey brings together the voices of Spac3man, Bruce Leroy, Luck-One, Jay Barz, Grynch, Rockwell Powers, RA Scion, Xperience, Hyphen8d, Second Family, and more. It works as a primer to the producer/singer's work but also as a solid compilation of NW spitters—scratch that, it actually feels a lot less like a comp and more like an album. Which it is, so kudos.
Speaking of Bruce Leroy, his new album, Leroy, goes pretty hard. Produced entirely by 1st Born, Leroy gives us little more than a 50-minute testimony to the MC's own dominance—but his casually contemptuous can't-nobody-tell-me-shit confidence and clear, smart-water flow can't help making your head nod along in agreement. When "Back to the Indica" pairs him up with two of Tacoma's toughest strains—Spaid and Cally Reed (fka Element) of Second Family—it's damn near potent enough to get a lover of local growth a goddamn DUI. Watch your signaling, people.
Also: Watch this dude Mega EvErs, "self-made," straight out the CD, and one of the most promising new cats I've been hearing as of late. You might just find that his high-powered street-reared spits and acknowledgment—not glorification—of the struggle ring true like they do to me.