Todd Quackenbush

Just caught another free local EP in my inbox well worth your precious time: dapper upstarts State of the Artist (that is Parker, Young TH, and Hyphen8d) and their Californication-inspired three-song suite, the Hank Moody EP. It's mellow, contemplative, and stylish, with all three MCs standing out with their own individual presentation—and at a mere eight or so minutes, it's the SOTA boys' best-yet document of their ever-jelling vibe, chemistry, and slick wordplay ("A taste test tantalized by the zest I possess/Some flavor for the labor we put in as creators/The essence of my sweet/Strawberry to match the leaf"—from "Common Senses"). The growth from this summer's Shapeshifters mixtape is evident—do like me, and look forward to more from these three in 2010.

Also just saw Rockwell Powers—the Tacoma MC who dropped the Kids in the Back LP with Ill Pill (producer of Grynch's "My Volvo") this year—has teamed up with producer Mat Wisner from Viper Creek Club to drop the Pocket Full of Stones EP, naturally available for free at www.kidsintheback.com. Don't be fooled by the title, there's no crack to be sold here (awwwwwwwwwww!), just Powers's raps over Wisner's dancey indie stylings. Speaking of the Tac, maybe you've noticed Street Academic Logics going hard on the collaboration tip. In the last few, he's dropped some mixtape-type joints such as his remixes of "Forever" with Spaceman, Brainstorm, and Grynch; "The Last Hope" with Geologic and Fice; "Boss Life" with Fice and Fatal Lucciauno; and "The Second Coming" with Grynch. Hit your friendly neighborhood blog circuit for those if you haven't.

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Mayer Hawthorne is bringing his throwback Ray-Ban soul to the HUB on December 10, along with Spokanistan's own Stones Throw boogie brat James Pants and 206ers Le'Roy, aka Waystyles and OC Notes. That's a lineup even a cougar could appreciate, so music lovers of all ages and school affiliations: Be sure and head to UW, ask five different people where the HUB is, then stumble upon it by accident. That's how I do it, and it works pretty good.

Nectar's got a spicy-nice (as Ghost would say) bill comin' up December 16—the Grouch, Mistah FAB, Fashawn and Exile, the Prime, and DJ Fresh; Cali's in the house! The Grouch you surely already know for his frequent excursions this way, solo and with Living Legends. But the Yellow Bus Rydah, Fabby Davis—at Nectar? I love the sound of that, just like I do the Exile-produced Fashawn album Boy Meets World, because it's an absolute gem, in the vein of Exile's last collaboration with an MC (you know, Blu's Below the Heavens?); plus, the guest appearances from Blu and Aloe Blacc make it all the sweeter. Then there's the Prime, which is the Grouch's fellow LL rep Luckyiam with PDX's prodigious Sandpeople MC/producer/singer Sapient. I'm thinking that's gotta be my type of hype, and you should probably join me. Peer pressure's a bitch, don't you be one, too. recommended

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