Kyle Johnson

Damn, 2010 totally happened. This year, I caught a couple people not paying attention trying to side-mouth on some ol' What happened to local hiphop this year, like it fell off and got a job at Subway and shit. The answer is: the same thing it did before you came around. This is not hype: 2010 was an incredible year for fans of Seattle hiphop. In January, I was privileged to witness Shabazz Palaces, whose words and rhythms had already infiltrated my being on a genetic level, knock the town on its ass. I saw Shabazz very organically bring THEESatisfaction (whose Bumbershoot Sky Church performance blew me away) into their fold, and the two groups blew minds as a unified front as they covered each other's songs at the Stranger Genius Awards. (Shabazz later went on to sign to Sub Pop Records.) This year, Blue Scholars headlined the Paramount, with a sea of adoring fans hanging on every word. We glimpsed bits of what I anticipate to be their most realized work ever, CinemetropolisGeo, I mean Prometheus Brown, finding the dope flow he once lamented not having, and his partner, Sabzi, loosening up, musically speaking, since part-time relocating to NYC (and falling in with heavy-buzzing smart-moufs Das Racist). I've watched Macklemore turn his fear, pain, and worry into strength, honesty, and clarity—and I've seen fans here and beyond go absolutely apeshit for him; it's safe to say he broke out in a major way this year. Jake One made a stellar, and ingeniously packaged, full-length hiphop record with Freeway. Mad Rad rebuilt bridges and came back with a vengeance.

Vets dropped essential town neoclassics (Vitamin D's Bornday, Candidt's Sweatsuit & Churchshoes), leaders of the new school showed out with a gaggle of EPs (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis's mammoth The Vs. EP, J.Pinder's Code Red), and an even newer class stunted in Technicolor (Sol's Dear Friends, State of the Artist's Sea-Cal). And more. Grynch's Volvo became a star all its own. D.Black didn't quite retire yet (via his The Blackest Brown EP), and Spaceman seemed to be rocking a show somewhere between here and Bend, Oregon, every weekend. Avatar Young Blaze dropped like a million high-quality mixtapes and videos. Champagne Champagne, Dark Time Sunshine, JFK, and Sonny Bonoho all toured the nation. The Members Only collective went from throwing successful after-hours parties to packing Monday nights at Jet Set to releasing that SOTA LP, among other things, with much more to come. Also, some people got mad that I didn't mention them... right about now.

Most importantly, though, there are more fans than ever, here in the NW, who proudly bump local, who breathlessly quote Macklemore in their Tumblr updates, who make fan videos to Dyme Def songs. Without them, I mean without you, I mean without us, being here, none of this matters. But you so are, and it so does. So, thanks. Just remember what's really going on, be safe (stay far away from the SPD), have a great holiday and New Year's, and prepare yourself for what's next. Peace! recommended