Okay, we now interrupt the Weekly Seattle Rap Show Calendar—this is not a test. I got a few local hiphop CDs to shed some light on, and no time like the present.
First up, the general of the Tacoma-based Street Academy, Logics aka Young Ghangas, just dropped his debut, When All Else Fails. Splitting time between Tacoma and the big lights of Las Vegas, Els' chief focus is the grind and the spoils that come with it. Logics clearly knows how to rap, and he's known for eating fools up in a live setting; but while it's a solid listen if you have a taste for where his head's at (grind, get fly, duck haters, repeat), All Else fails in its lack of passion and in Logics' often-just-adequate bars and wooden delivery. Els' hustle is evident, but on the mic, dude's humor, smarts, and personality just aren't coming through here. The words rhyme, he's name-checking lots of good-life signifiers, but the dispassionate-baller stance never quite cuts through to make an impression—unlike the bullying Nelson-isms (ha-ha!) of his fellow Street cadet Jay Barz, who (along with Mic Phenom) stands out on the cut "Run This." Logics reminds me of Jim Jones when he first popped up—less in style or voice than in positioning and image; like the swag-splashing DipSet capo, when Els gets it right and conjures some real charisma on record beyond a material swag, he'll make some undeniable shit.
On the flip, we have Warm Blooded Cold Heart, the official debut of Seattle's own Central District/Russia rep Avatar Young Blaze. 'Tar has a thick (tarlike, if you will) Newport-phlegmy husk well beyond his years, and he knows how to use it authoritatively. His raps drip teeth-clenched intensity and a lackadaisical menace that would make Jeezy go yeeeeeah. Lyrically, he's no slouch, parting his perma-smirk to spit rewindables like: "Baby, time to clap like a snare/Got that Chad Johnson/85 shots, ain't none of 'em in the air—yayuh." His reverential street narratives are soil specific and forensics-grade detailed, and they sound just right over some Swisher-friendly, Dirty South–style synth-meets-live production from D-Sane, Ron "Pop Champagne" Browz, and a bevy of names I've never heard of (Trouble, Young Dru, Jim Bond, and Taurus Scott). I can't front—after the murdergram that was his mixtape Russian Roulette 2, I honestly hoped for a classic debut from the youngest in charge. Well, it's not that. It's a touch overlong at 19 tracks, and its very focused subject matter a touch derivative after an hour. But Avatar, quiet as kept, is one of the town's fiercest talents. His dead-inside brand of gangster music may not be your twist, but tracks like "Don't Want It" and the simply schizo, no-hook death threat "Lights Out" could very well make a believer—or a 911-dialing shut-in—out of you.