Fans round this piece no doubt know the name of Scribes, who dropped his debut, Sleepwalk, almost five years ago now; his earnest, dead-serious lyricism and passion for the music shone through, especially on the standout "Soully," where the young MC displayed a surprising (at the time, at least—this was before every rapper caught a boner for Drake's So Far Gone) knack for melodic hook writing. A couple years later, while building up a local following via all-ages shows (such as the 206 Stand Up series he curated at the Vera Project), Scribes lost a good deal of what was meant to be his second record in a break-in at Aaron Angus's home studio—one that fucked up more than a few local artists' plans at the time. Appropriate then that he titled his long-awaited second album What Was Lost.
No less serious a character than with Sleepwalk, Scribes does have a lot more fun in his rhyming on Lost; blending a refined gift for mid-'90s Hilfiger-and-a-knapsack East Coast rap inflection with the breezy, dragging-in-your-girl's-ear melodies that he first demonstrated on "Soully," he finds a fresh style with skill and personality. "I wouldn't really call myself a singer," he admitted to me, "but I can confidently deliver something vocally that's working. I notice that a lot of rappers who try to sing will lean one way or the other: They sing good but the raps are falling off, or vice versa—I wanted to come with my A-game on both. I think as a rapper, you can't just sing anything you want—you can't Boyz II Men your shit—it's gotta stay somewhat relevant to the persona you have in your verses. Basically," he concludes, "you can't sing like a bitch!" Scribes does double duty Friday, February 4, over at Nectar, where the CD release for What Was Lost goes down; the all-ages show at 5:00 p.m. features KnowMads, Kung Foo Grip, and Icarus Swift, while the drunkard set includes SuperFire (I suggest you maybe check for their EP Off the Clock at their Bandcamp page), JFK, Hush'd Puppies, and the Pre Wrecks. Both shows are hosted by khaki enthusiast Grynch and include the stylish blends of the File Jerks' own Astronomar.
While you're pondering that, check for Portland-based producer DJ Jacks Green's choice EP Take Me Home. Clocking in at just four tracks (including a short instrumental intro), Green brings a most welcome sun-dappled warmth to notable tracks from three of the town's favorite MCs: the aforementioned Scribes (the seriously wistful "Day Job" would've been a standout even on his own album), Sol (the classy space-age courting of "Kickitwitchu"), and Prometheus Brown aka Geo of Blue Scholars (who authoritatively laces the title track with one of his best performances). This EP, as small and unassuming as it seems, could in fact be a seminal piece of NW collaboration to help set the stage for a stronger Cascadian union. And I could be (and frequently am) talking out my ass there, but I say: If you can dream it, be it! Makes sense, right?