Give Seattle Hip-Hop a Chance
Pitchfork Media has a list of their Top 100 Songs of 2011. On the list are Lana Del Rey's "Video Games" (#19), Tyler, the Creator's "Yonkers" (#16), Kanye & Jay-Z's "Niggas in Paris" (#12), Bon Iver's "Holocene" (#2), and finally M83's "Midnight City" (#1) I like most of Pitchfork's choices (some are weird) they have a pretty good mix of genres and artists of all popularity levels. Yet, nowhere on pitchfork, or any popular music blog for that matter, do I see anything about the Seattle Hip-Hop scene. In my opinion what's happening in Seattle has the potential to take over Pop Hip-Hop altogether.
Artists like Blue Scholars have taken their time to settle into their style over the past decade or so. Filipino rapper Geologic (or Prometheus Brown) and Iranian producer Sabzi make a particularly effective Hip-Hop duo. Even from the get-go they have had a uniquely fresh style on their self-titled album. Catchy, almost vintage beats and edgy, anti-Bush/proletariat lyrics were their way of catching attention. And they did;
"And your so-called commander in chief, B, I’m telling you the man is a thief, in his head he holds a plan to ban your freedom of speech."
The Patriot Act, which he's referring to in this line, was something particularly questionable, and made many afraid of the possibility of losing their 1st Amendment rights to freedom of speech. Yet the best song on the album, in my opinion, is "Sagaba", a story about an encounter with a beautiful, but distraught woman who is shown the beauty of life by the storyteller. This song is absolute poetry. It's amazing and it took my breath away the moment I heard it. Blue Scholars have a tendency to make a few out-of-this-world tracks per album. This trend continued through on their following album, Bayani. The song "Joe Metro" is probably the most well-known song on the album, and yet highlights how adept Geologic is at painting an image of the scene and the societal issues he can't help but notice on a casual bus-ride. Yet again, absolute poetry. Even though Geo can go too far sometime, he does bring up legitimate political, societal, and cultural problems. Cinemetropolis, their most recent album, is toned down a bit, but carries the same style in beats and flow you'd expect from them.
Macklemore is another great example. His most recent work with producer Ryan Lewis is unbelievably powerful. He goes to places a lot of Hip-Hop artists don't and raps with a purpose. Addiction, obsessive consumerism, and money are the most powerful themes in his most recent work. In "Otherside Remix feat. Fences" Ryan Lewis captures the macabre mood of the rappers account of addiction to lean almost perfectly using subtle and beautiful intertwining of acoustics and synthetic beats.
"Syrup, percocet, and an eighth a day will leave you broke, depressed, and emotionally vacant. Despite how Lil' Wayne lives it's not conducive to being creative"
The song is pure emotion. For me music is emotion, and for me the most powerful music, is music with a purpose. Another favorite by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and my last link here is "Wings," a story about Air Jordan's and giving into consumerism.
I hope the next Top 100 of ____ has at least one song by a Hip-Hop artist from Seattle. They deserve it.