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After spending nearly 3.5 hours watching the Oscars on Sunday night, I plopped my tired ass into a seat at the Laser Dome last night to witness an award ceremony of a different sort: the very first Town Love Hip-Hop Awards.

I showed up to the event a little confused about what I was about to see. Would each group go up and accept an award? Were there going to be speeches? Did I get stoned only to watch musicians talk about their work rather than actually listen to it? But as I walked underneath the dome—which looked like the inside of a golf ball—and took in the faint smell of cannabis wafting off everyone's clothes, I felt reassured that I could relax into the show.

Created by Crane City Music, a local hip-hop record label headed by Gary Campbell, and hosted by musician/KEXP DJ Stas THEE Boss, the show counted down the top twenty best Seattle hip-hop records from 2018 with songs from each album being played alongside a laser show.

I'm not sure who exactly asked for this, but it's hard to be mad at since it combined my two favorite things: listening to very loud music and staring at screensavers. Except this laser show was the most beautiful screensaver I'd ever seen. At first, it's hard to know where to look, but once you get the hang of it the music and visuals become fluid, weaving in and out of each other, talking.

Singer Parisalexa's Bloom ended up taking home the title and top prize of $500. She was followed by Kung Foo Grip's 2KFG, and Travis Thompson's YouGood? rounded out the top three. Also of note: MistaDC's Sorry We Lost You, which we talked about here, coming in fourth; our cover star Chong the Nomad's Love Memo took home sixth, Gifted Youngstaz' Revenge of the Iron Lung came in seventh but had the best laser movement with visuals of volcanos, dinosaurs, the earth, space giving the song "Breathe" a galactic edge.

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The experience was like listening to a great mixtape someone gave you, a bite-size chunk of the expansive and talented hip-hop scene here in the city. The lasers didn't detract at all from the music but elevated it in a way that forced me to think differently about how each song was constructed. God, and sometimes you just need to step back from looking at all your screens, everything that distracts you as you flip on that playlist for the millionth time, and settle in and get to true enlightenment. Laser Dome, I fucking love you.

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