I realize the halls of power in this burg could probably give less than a squirt about my opinion. That's fine. But after really giving some thought to the police's interactions with the hiphop community over the last few years—if not decades—it's clear that their actions are no less than an act of war.
Chief Gil Kerlikowske, the footage and evidence shows me that your goons unfairly assaulted DV One, Rajnii Eddins, and Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes, and it's clear you're not going to do shit about it. "SPD has come full circle in hiphop by beating and arresting a DJ, an MC, and a fan," says Gregory Lewis (dRED.i's GLC1). "And the city is going after the promoters and club owners."
It would be easy to draw this divide along racial lines, but I know overzealous cops are willing to fuck with whites too. Alley-Barnes's friend, who was white, got slammed and taken in as well—and somehow his cell-phone pics of the whole incident disappeared along the way. Promoters and club owners of all races are intimidated and discouraged from doing hiphop events. So I say: These are acts of war upon all of us who are the hiphop community of Seattle. So how then do we (nonviolently) address a police force so openly hostile to our community?
At the recent NAACP-sponsored rally at City Hall, Lewis stressed to me that our music is a weapon. We all have our own families, crews, political beliefs, and priorities, but perhaps it's time we all came to a consensus on what has aggressively, repeatedly shown itself to be our common enemy?
See, for a lot of us, rap is what we do; hiphop is what we live. A great example of this is to be found in Erika White, aka Kylea, the MC of longtime Seattle institution Beyond Reality. Kylea's reality as a woman, a b-girl, and a mother all gloriously inform A Souls Journey, Beyond Reality's beyond-long-awaited CD; the good news is that it was more than worth the wait. As an MC, White is truest-school, pure foundational hiphop—clean, concise rhyming, the kind that not just moves a crowd, but moves listeners to take stock and count their blessings as well. The combination of her rhymes with some truly breathtaking boardwork from BeanOne (who, let's face it, has been fucking killing shit for years now) and Kuddie Mak (winner of the first Big Tunes battle, and perhaps the town's illest up-and-comer) makes for an album every bit as soulful and insightful as Kylea herself, and its status as a foil to the male-dominated hiphop landscape of not just the country but the Seattle scene itself cannot be understated. A Souls Journey is an essential piece of the puzzle and yet another brilliant '07 release. Buy it, buy it, buy it if you love your scene. Buy it at Chop Suey on Saturday, July 7, at Fresh Fest '07, a powerful bill that brings you Beyond Reality, the town's favorite young gunnas Dyme Def, Rolling Stone's favorite Mass Liner Gabriel Teodros, and nationally acclaimed MC/poet Laura "Piece" Kelly—all hosted by Seattle's premier songbird (and Souls Journey contributor), Choklate.
Now you got something to do.