"For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required." —Luke 12:48
I guess it's kind of ironic that the last column was all about somebody's decision to retire, because this one, the real Last One, is all about somebody else's—mine. I myself am not retiring anytime soon (I don't think people get to do that anymore) but I am retiring My Philosophy, which I've had the privilege of writing in these pages since June of 2004.
The Stranger is currently celebrating 25 years of lining birdcages, recycling bins, and sidewalks, and I similarly am celebrating 25 years of living in the Pacific NW, chiefly by getting the fuck out.
I guess I'm motivated by some of the same shit that Spekulation cited as reasons for putting the mic down—maybe including the fact that this column itself played a role. (Hey, if I finally made one mediocre white rapper retire, then my job here is done, right? Kidding.) What he was saying about taking up space resonated with me most. I been feeling like I take up too much space in what is a fairly cramped area for some time.
Physically, psychically, wedged in the way. In my own way, too—blocking my own happiness, blotting out sun, just awkwardly standing in the middle of some party suffering some peabrain's bullshit, never at the party that my folks is at, wishing I was there, wherever, anywhere but here. (I think I'm only comfortable DJing—control issues—and I always end up doing it anyway.)
When I started writing MP in the summer of 2004, nobody knew me, nobody cared, and it was awesome. Kanye was well on his way in, and the G-Unit hegemony was starting to wane. The next year, I wrote about how West was "the only one that has a ghost of a chance of competing with 50's right-wing rap supremacy."
At this particular moment in history, Yeezy's wife is considering voting for Trump, at the behest of her conservative stepparent Caitlyn Jenner, who calls the Donald "a champion for women." Trump has recklessly stoked White America's Obama-induced nervous breakdown into a real blood feast, a roiling magma pit of stupid-looking Real Americans, like him, trying to drag everyone to hell because their hard-won supremacy is threatened. Have we ever gotten to the edge of such monumental ugliness and not just pitched in headfirst? Please... tell me yes.
Twelve years ago, the Seattle scene I wrote about was vastly different. Oldominion held serious sway, their acts all over local bills, the best of which were Obese Productions shows. The Blue Scholars' eponymous debut had been out in its original edition for a year or less and a huge groundswell of support for them was building, the likes of which hadn't really been seen for a local act. Macklemore was just one of the names in rotation, alongside acts like Clockwork, Byrdie, and Cancer Rising.
Tons of Bay Area–influenced g-shit was being pumped out of cars in the Soufend, the CD, and the Northend. Seattle mostly slept on Ish Butler's seminal Cherrywine project. Today, world tours, diamond singles, new festivals, and a whole new hiphop generation are the result—and the brief period of mutual respect and collaboration that put us on the mainstage has rolled back to the old days of unconnected micro-fiefdoms and underground residencies.
Which is great, because everything changes—but like Shabazz said, "things, they always change the same." I see the same cycles and the same results. It's absolutely just me, but a great many of the things happening here—in these days since the hiphop scene pretty much got its wish—just leave me cold. A change of scenery is right on time for your boy.
(Since catching wind of her about a year ago, I still gotta say Christy Karefa-Johnson, aka DoNormaal, is the best thing to hit this scene in a good minute, with a whole emerging li'l galaxy around her. And since she said Jump Or Die, I'ma do the first thing and try not to do the second on the way down.)
When I started writing MP, the rap from my hometown of Los Angeles was seemingly in a slump, at least commercially (Busdriver and Murs, among others, were cooking on the under). The only thing cracking really seemed to be the Game. Just this week, in a bid to goad Meek Mill and Beanie Sigel (just the latest contestants in his usual album-promo beef cycle), he went to South Philly to eat a cheesesteak. Of course, being a tourist, he went to one of the tourist spots, unfortunately choosing Geno's—the racist one, the one whose now-dead owner plastered its walk-up window with signs that said "This Is America, When Ordering Speak English" and "I Am Mad As Hell! I Want My Country Back!"
He's not alone, even in hell.
All this inconsequential blathering meant something. It set the stage for what was next. Just like those symbolic protests that spark more conversations among people who wouldn't have dreamed of it just last year. Just like those in-the-street protests that make for quicker disclosure and more charges filed (none sticking yet, of course). The bodies in the street—I can't keep up anymore—and boycotts that hopefully come, that put some real foot to ass. The pushing, and the pushing back. This is a dance show—dance, sucka!
I am proud to have written about hiphop for this long because no other genre's held all this in its gut, sour, digesting. I'm honored to have written continually about what hiphop does here in Seattle, for longer than anybody's done yet (according to my man Daudi Abe, whose forthcoming book Emerald Street: A History of Hip-Hop in Seattle will likely be definitive). I won't be a stranger to these pages, but I think you've heard about enough of me and my philosophy.
Thanks for the good times.