Howdy, pardners! As you read this, I'll be out in balmy Austin, Texas, getting overstimulated by the blessed industry circus known as SXSW. And I'm not alone—seems like half the town-that-is-Sea is all heading down to rock various showcases, including such 206-heavy affairs as the Red Bull Big Tune event and the SXSeattle Party. Off the top of my dome, and I could well be forgetting some, Dyme Def, Grynch, Macklemore, Mash Hall, the entire Sportn' Life Records camp (D.Black, Fatal Lucciauno, Spaceman, SK), THEESatisfaction, JFK, Grayskul, Dark Time Sunshine, J.Pinder, Jake One (he's doing at least one show with Freeway in support of the fantastic Stimulus Package), adopted Seattleite One Be Lo, and even the enigmatic Shabazz Palaces are all rocking in the storied land of barbecue and bourbon.
Now, this is my first trip to Austin, and I'd hate for you to think I'm presenting myself as some kind of authority on the thing, but it's pretty damn clear that this is a helluva good look for Seattle. Even though many of our MVPs have been hitting it, there's never, ever been such heavy 206-hiphop representation at SXSW. Best believe that the aggregate town vibe being brought to the assembled tastemakers, journalists, bloggers, fans, industry types, and uncategorizable movers and shakers will result in a greater consciousness of what the fuck is in the water out here. Of course, SXSW and such ain't the end all be all—there's really no one thing that is—but it's a good platform for those artists and for anybody who wants to see Seattle's scene taken seriously on a national and international level. If you're one of the folks who turn right to this column every week, chances are that group includes you. Thank you for caring, spreading the word, coming out, copping merch, producing the music—because "putting Seattle on the map" (and if you think it isn't, I don't know what The Prisoner–ass map you got) was always irrelevant if it wasn't in our hearts, minds, and stereos, right? Right.
But let it not be in your hearts and minds that I only focus on those people who are making those so-called moves—or who are only from Seattle proper, for that matter. There's a lot to hear locally right now, a whole intimidating mess of it in fact, of all different types. Such as the (rarely well-executed) live hiphop band flavor, represented here by Tacoma's Revengers and Bellingham's Productionists. The Revengers' bar-rock-hop Scraps on the Badlands has some good composition, singing and band-wise, but the rapped vocals—though there's some good, thoughtful writing going on—sound clunky at best. The Productionists' decent self-titled joint, with its smoother funk/soul influence, works better, and the populist rhymes mostly click over the slick bass grooves, G-funk keys, and crooned hooks. I also got a CD from Moses Lake–based MC Deviouse, whose shirtless CD cover prevented me from listening 'til recently—and upon listening, the music inside shows way more passion than promise. Yeah, sometimes a book's cover says it all. Doesn't mean the author can't write a better one in the future, though.