This was written last week on the solstice, the first day of summer; it was a beautiful day, quite nice after the hot, happy last couple nights I spent watching album-release shows from Blue Scholars and Grieves at Neumos. Those nights were full of thinking and talking about the music and movement of our town. It felt significant, as does this summer.

Heavy, alight with trueness. Shabazz Palaces celebrate the long-awaited Sub Pop release of Black Up with their own two-night get-down at Neumos, where that album's everlasting bass will sound appropriately chest-flattening. SP are my peoples, and I've been quite a vocal advocate since I first heard them—but even were all that not the case, and the album just somehow dropped out of the sky into my hands, I think Black Up would still be my album of the year. It's a stellar (in the truest sense of the word) piece of music, dense as the heart of a star, dappled with cosmic light. Astute listeners will be unpacking meaning and nuance for months. If it's not for you, then it's just not—but I think you're missing out on some of the illest shit to come out of anywhere in the last few. Sleep is a luxury you can't afford here. Showgoers on Thursday, June 30, will also be treated to Merm and Mall (an until-fairly-recently-MIA Central District crew who are about to return with a way-pimpish album), while Friday, July 1, features mushroom tea partyers Metal Chocolates. And both nights feature one half of the MC, future man OC Notes. Speaking of which, Notes' recent drop, Secret Society, is the real dope, homie; this is his most surprising collection yet, encompassing housey stuff like that of his sterling Dap Confuser, lysergic, Brainfeedery post-rap instrumentals, even some Ariel Pink–style freak-pop rock shit. It's all soul, real and uncalculated, unmistakable. Hit up www.ocnotes.bandcamp.com and find out.

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In a somewhat more commercially minded rap vein, you will find a show up at Nectar on Thursday, June 30, with local artists Shorte and JC Flow, who are joining forces to make the most noise possible. They share stylistic similarities—their raps are frenetic, unrelenting, with some strong hooks and melodies, but with verses mostly light on personality, until guest MCs like Spaceman or Tr3 Nut show up; this type of synth-driven kind-of-sounds-like-the-radio rap has been done around here for years, and while it don't speak to me, there's plenty who swear by it. Also performing are Second Family, Vennum, Green Star Majors, and DJ Swervewon.

Singer Shaprece is dropping her debut EP and rocking the Crocodile on Saturday, July 2, with Fresh Espresso, sexy disco-rock band Black Cherry Crush (I recommend checking their fun, dancey EP Cherry Pop), and Gran Rapids' Jay Battle on the cuts. The vibe continues the next night at Chop Suey with the second Seattle Soul on Blast event (put on by Seattle's Choklate, among others), this time focusing on the menfolk: the Good Sin, Nate Vibez, Peacemaker Nation, Che Blaq & Jay Dot, Lurrell Low, and DJ Vitamin D will bring their all, with Zach Bruce hosting. Who says the town ain't got soul? Stop that. recommended