A smidge past a half-decade and a couple iterations back, you may recall that there was a group of acts dubiously lumped together as the "third wave" of Seattle hiphop. I remember the knowing half-joke among some of that wave's components held that "the girls"—who were also a part of the so-called "wave"—were going to "leave us all in the dust." The "girls" in question would be Stas and Cat, of course, Sub Pop recording artists THEESatisfaction. And yeah, there never was any doubt—not on my part at least—that they were going to do just that.
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Now internationally known and locally revered, they released their second album for Sub Pop, EarthEE, on February 24. While packing no instant-getter like "QueenS" from 2012's awE naturalE, the record (which features Shabazz Palaces' Palaceer Lazaro, Porter Ray, Tay Sean, Erik Blood, and Meshell Ndegeocello) is warmer, deeper, a bold chamber of self-produced black feminist sci-fi self-care quite unlike anything else out. Catch them touring this spring with their labelmates, the veteran rockers Sleater-Kinney. In the meanwhile, Stas and Cat will celebrate their album release at Neumos on Thursday, February 26, with Gifted Gab.
To today's point, though: EarthEE's Palaceer-featuring "Blandland," in its greater narrative about the co-opting of hiphop and black culture in general, features semi-veiled jabs at a specific ("him?") bouncing, culture-stealing MC—clearly meant to be Macklemore. The tone is more fatigued and bemused than venomous, but feels potent, especially coming from the last Grammy-winning rapper from Seattle—also, incidentally, young Mack's first favorite MC.
Then there would be Raz Simone, who, in the month since Cognitive Dissonance Pt. 2 dropped, has put up three new videos: "Macklemore & Chief Keef," "Drake and Macklemore's Platform," and a song over Drake's "No Tellin'." With those songs' titles so pointedly named, it would seem that Raz is either SEO-trolling for play counts and blog placements, or has legitimate concerns about the state of the art form and folks up on that platform, including his neighbor.
As for that "Platform" video: it features a 1994 interview from 2Pac speaking truth as only Pac could. Having aligned himself with that message, Raz, wraithlike on a Vegas rooftop, goes in with some ice-cold but nonspecific sucka-sniping—until about four and a half minutes in. "Mix-A-Lot gave you the torch," Raz growls, "But 2Pac gave me the crown/It was your year last year/But it's my shit now." Okay, that's pretty specific. As are the bars on "Chief Keef" where he notes the irony of Mack's "White Privilege," insists that Mack owes his city and his fans something, then wonders exactly what.
Whatever the ideas or ideals are behind these darts, there's one thing that they certainly were, and that's inevitable. Now what? Will there be a response? This is the sort of thing I used to live for on the old Seattle-rap internets, but my taste for that good peanut-gallery popcorn has kinda subsided. S'all butter, though; at least it's poppin'.