It's been five years since Fatal Lucciauno dropped The Only Forgotten Son on Sportn' Life Records, a classic of Seattle street-hop, all GSR-coated knuckles, night sweats, and quick-to-flash frontline energy. He's seen ups and downs since riding out a jail bid, briefly becoming the town establishment's black sheep, and delivering some of the most searing live sets Seattle rap fans have witnessed. This month brings us not one but two brand-new full-length Fatal albums: first, The Message—a free release (www.fatallucciauno.bandcamp .com) entirely produced by Jake One, no small feat of generosity in a town full of rappers thirsty for Jake's attention. Fatal's unique blend of life-of-pain nihilism, sober gangster discipline, and ever-questioning intellect makes him a unique voice in the NW hiphop narrative, an MC striving to capture his inherent duality, pistol on hip, conscious of the obvious Tupac parallel.
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That's why it's helpful to imagine The Message as the first volume of Fatal's long-awaited (darker, higher-ranking) second chapter, with Respect as its counterpart. (How do I write about an album whose intro features yours truly? Easy.) Fatal's lived-in, husky tone is complemented by a variety of producers, from Kuddie Fresh to MTK, as he demands the album's titular esteem, whether from would-be enemies, authorities, or himself. It's got moments of real insight and tender disclosure, even some slick pillow talk, but it's more harrowing than heartwarming, gooned-out yet possessing a general's weary and wary eye. He's got nothing but disrespect and hate for rappers like Odd Future, but like them, he occasionally traffics in some hateful, homophobic words and even tastelessly likens himself to Adolf Hitler in a move a lot more Dipset than Wolf Gang.
Nonetheless, and no matter where he hangs his fitted, Fatal is the heart of the CD, the strong voice of a sect of folks that the gentrifying class couldn't care less about, as long as they don't have to see them in front of their property. No mere mercenary capitalist drug kingpin, Fatal is of the classic mold of gangsta rapper—sometimes repentant, sometimes repugnant—a speaker of ugly truths we dare not ignore. His CD release is at Chop Suey on Friday, February 17, with Th3rdz, AD, Feezable the Germ, and DJ Action Jackson.
There's a ton of other worthy rap that night, too: LA's low-key genius Good Lifer Open Mike Eagle at Nectar with Type, then OGs the Coup at the Crocodile (no doubt freshly charged with their brand of funkily righteous indignation in the face of everything that's been going on in Oakland as of late), and even Buck 65 at the Tractor.
One of hiphop's fathers, a living testament to the spirit and weirdness that informed the culture so many want to relentlessly normalize, Afrika Bambaataa will be bringing you the fruits of his 40-year search for the perfect beat. Hit the Zulu Jam (206 Zulu celebrates eight years all this weekend!) at Washington Hall on Saturday, February 18, and salute the OG. If not that, the Hard Rock Cafe is the move, with a CD release party for the Soul of Seattle compilation hosted by Tiffany Wilson and Zach Bruce with Topspin on the wheels. Socialize, get down, let your soul lead the way.