If you haven't heard, Seattle's son Sol is getting his Caine from Kung-Fu on. The 2011 UW Bonderman Travel Fellowship winner is embarking on what will no doubt be a hellafied life experience as he jets to India, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, South Africa, Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, Trinidad, Haiti, and Jamaica. On Saturday, June 16, he'll be rocking the Showbox at the Market, and then he'll be gone till November and at least a few months after. Sol sent me his first mixtape in 2006, his senior year of high school, when his name was Solstice. What I love about Sol is his particular archetype: He's a serious student, of school but especially of life; he was 206 pre-frosh smoking and kicking it with the Blue Scholars, a thoughtful, loving cat. Over the last six years, building rapport with a growing base, putting out a steady stream of quality, and rocking/throwing shows selectively, he's come the hell up, by sweat and will alone. I know that not everybody's on that wave, 'cause they're on a different one, but I salute him and am glad people are listening.
It's okay to like rap by decent guys, just like it's okay to like rap by bad guys, and it's even better to like both, or even stuff that you can't so simply pin down. Balance is all, and love is the answer, no Streisand. So much love to everybody who's lost somebody to violence, ever—but especially in the last few around this city. Bad craziness seems to be everywhere, intensifying, accelerating, but please, hold on and hold tight. (No hashtag.)
People need connection right now, and rappers who win, connect—whether it's with people's need for hope and health or with their need to go as hard, or rather to be as hard, cold, and crazy, as these times are. So it's good to hear somebody talk about what they needed to do to get their life together, like on "Goodbye My Love," the song a lot of people are connecting to on Fresh Espresso's first album in three years, Bossalona. Productionwise, Fresh has always been producer/rapper P-Smoov's more straight-ahead hiphop chamber (as opposed to Mad Rad's electro-emo party rock), and vocally, it's all about the balance between his hungry, super-cocky destiny manifestation flow and the supremely slick stylings of the indefatiguably fly Rik Rude, and on both fronts they're more dialed in than ever. They're more open with themselves as well, succinctly speaking to their mutual roots in the Mitten on the lovely Shaprece-featuring "Lake Michigan." For my admittedly slim money, Bossalona is a more focused and seasoned work than their debut, Glamour, cooler ("Benihana"), jazzier ("Goodnight Sinatra"), more assured, less fucks given.
Lastly, my favorite local rap song for a minute: Raz's "They'll Speak." YouTube it right now. I'll wait. Most of the folks I've turned on to it report back that it's the realest shit they've heard in hella. Okay, so Raz and the bombastic Nu Era have a show at Neumos on Tuesday, June 19, with the Gnu Deal, J to tha E, and Camila Recchio. You're welcome.