You might remember me telling you about Seattle's 10isee Williams a few times over these last three years. I say "might" because his signature well-crafted, understated braggadocio and Big K.R.I.T.–ish rap morality are slept on out here like a buckwheat pillow and memory foam. Now he's back with his third album in as many years, Gorilla Warfare.
"You guys oughta do a story about me sometime," Warfare's Full Metal Jacket–sampling intro declares, "'cause I'm so fuckin' good! That ain't no shit, neither!" With a slight shoulder chip and an offhand, almost professorial air of superiority, Williams conducts a cunning campaign against less-focused MCs, "culture vultures," and the fourth US president, James Madison.
Though he's been working almost exclusively with Raised Byy Wolves these last few years (and to good effect, as demonstrated by his couple joints here), Williams and Eric G have some real winning chemistry on the second half of Warfare, particularly "G.W.M." ("Good Weed Music")—which features Williams and Kung Foo Grip's Greg Cypher passing off in classic fashion over something that sounds like DeVante Swing—and the spiritualized plea "S.O.S." (more initialisms: "Save Our Souls").
"What's the price of me being honest," he asks, "when you live in a city where most of these rap niggas prima donnas?" Album closer "Nat Turner" sounds like some ghetto gothic revenge-fever over some pitch-dark synths worthy of Goblin (think Dawn of the Dead, not Tyler, the Creator). This handful of songs alone makes Warfare Williams's best work to date. So get on his hype—10isee is one of the most balanced and underheard pure spitters out here.
Such as the town's underground cosmonaut Astro King Phoenix, who's releasing an album-length collaboration with producer Luna God. The inspired, blessedly unhinged Aurum Silentium ('golden silence') could also be called "good mushroom music." Somewhere between town legend Silas Blak's gruff, fractal attack and Earl Sweatshirt's anxious nightmare-cipher breathlessness (or maybe between Joey Badass and Cannibal Ox, ask me later) stands AKP's lysergic style, plumbing deep space and inner depths with an inscrutable aplomb.
"I ain't rock no concerts/I don't have no sponsors/All I know is knowledge that can change my dreams of wonders," Astro raps in a brief break of semi-lucidity on the gorgeous "Omnes Videntes Nubes." There's a pure love of words, a raw dew-touched impressionism in the imagery, and an ambient warmth in the beats that give Aurum a Based sheen that never scans less than authentic.
You can't peep the local underground and not see FFU, Filthy Fingers United, and their new second anniversary comp, Four Finger Ring, though. The collection includes "50 some producers," as their Bandcamp notes, and some of 'em rap, too—this comp stresses the beats, though: beats and brevity (most tracks cap at two minutes). It's the best FFU document yet, an ideal primer (and alphabetized!) for their vibe, a godsend to those looking for a dusty, purer alternative to the simplistic good-kid/bad-kid narratives (Solo cup or Styrofoam?) going down right now in this mad city's hiphop.