New York City's Supernatural has a lot to prove. He's never quite been able to transfer the skills he exhibits on stage as a great freestyle emcee into the studio. Coming out to Seattle to record with Vitamin D and Jake One is definitely a step in the right direction, though. His stay here begins with a gig hosting at the Baltic Room on Friday night, September 26, and performing for all the b-boys at the Downtown Showdown on Saturday the 27th at the Vera Project (where Bles One and his crew the Mash Hall will be making their Seattle debut). Come Sunday, Supernatural will join DJ Scene and DV One for an extra-special Yo, Son!, and if that's not enough work for one weekend, Supernatural also secured a slot with the Massive Monkees at the University of Washington's Dawg Daze on Monday the 29th, where the school kicks off a new year with live music in Red Square at 11:00 a.m.
A shout-out goes to Aaron Byers and Prolific Records for their Saturday-night weekly at Vito's, which last week included a showcase for Elektra recording artist Mark Ronson. Apparently Elektra was willing to risk signing the DJ (who had then previously produced hits for big names like Sean Paul and Nikka Costa, but hadn't released anything under his own name), as Ronson himself raps in the intro, "Here's a half a mil, make some hits of your own"--but he did just that, enlisting an all-star roster for Here Comes the Fuzz that includes Freeway, Q-Tip, Mos Def, M.O.P., Sean Paul, and 2003 Scribble Jam winner Rhymefest. His debut pop-rap album is the sleeper hit of the year--especially with the killer Saturday Night Fever vibe on "Ooh Wee." When I found out Ronson was coming through on a promotional tour, I had to find out if he was as fresh a DJ as he sounds on the album--and I found out the skills definitely match up live.
When I got to Vito's, weekly resident Lil Ricky was playing some choice cuts that I wouldn't expect to hear with a crowd full of NBA basketball players, tight-shirted muscle dudes, and big-boned women. The vibe there was real nice, though, and then up stepped Ronson, this London-born, New York-raised white boy that the crowd was totally not ready for. The minute he got on the decks, though, he just started wrecking it, going from old-school to new, dancehall to disco. He reminded me of a more New York (if that's possible) version of B-Mello, with a fast pace on the decks that showed him switching vinyl four bars into a song, running the last words of the previous track into the one that followed it. He created a couple really cool mixes, like coupling Run-D.M.C.'s "Peter Piper" with Slick Rick's "Children's Story," and mashing Sean Paul's "Get Busy" with Elephant Man's most "recent" hit, "Pon De River, Pon De Bank." He had something for everyone, and I look forward to seeing Ronson the next time he comes through.
This past Tuesday, September 23, was a big day for both major and independent releases. Two heavily hyped records dropped, with Atmosphere's Seven's Travels and Aesop Rock's Bazooka Tooth pretty much owning the underground. Both acts have recently come off trips to Seattle, with Atmosphere's pre-sold-out Showbox visit and Aesop Rock's Bumbershoot gig helping inflate the hype even more. (Aesop plans to return to Seattle with fellow Def Jukie Mr. Lif in December.) Don't be surprised to see both these indie artists crack Billboard, as the Rhymesayers and Def Jux labels definitely seem to be running things right now.
As for the major labels, I don't care what music floats your boat the most-- if you aren't the least bit curious about OutKast's double album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, then you roll with either some serious squares or a bunch of elitist pricks. The other major release I'm keeping an eye on is that of Slim Shady labelmate Obie Trice. His new album, Cheers, will likely be a disappointment, though, as it doesn't have the original production work from Seattleite Jake One on it anymore after Slim felt the need to meddle with it himself.
1. Jaylib, "Heavy" (Stones Throw)
2. OutKast, "Love Hater" (Arista)
3. Pete Rock & C. L. Smooth, "Lots of Lovin" (Elektra)
4. Bubba Sparxxx, "Jimmy Mathis" (Beat Club)
5. Atmosphere feat. Brother Ali, "Cats Van Bags" (Rhymesayers/Epitaph)
6. DMX feat. Eve & Jadakiss, "We're Back" (Ruff Ryders)
7. Semi-Official (I-Self & DJ Abilities), "Get Up" (Rhymesayers)
8. Iomos Marad feat. Bamski the Bigot, "The Steele" (All Natural)
9. Last Men Standin, "We Are" (Sport-N-Life)