Jalylah Burrell Presents…Emerald City Blues

seattle.jpgI haven’t lived in Seattle for almost a decade. I left in my teens and finished high school at an international school in Southeast Asia but even when I lived within its city limits I was anxious to get up and get out. It’s not exactly a hot bed of excitement and not the most diverse (the demographics, when compared my current place of residence, BK, and the one before that, ATL, are disheartening): a situation that’s made worse by the great distance to any multicultural metropolises. But it’s a beautiful city surrounded by water, mountains, evergreen trees and such. The people are friendly and progressive, there are pockets of international communities sprinkled across the city and there is a thriving hip-hop scene that has persevered despite obscurity.

Cultivated by pioneers like DJ Nastyness who has since reclocated to Cali and advanced by defunct rap group Source of Labor and the Jasiri Media Group family, the scene has produced a lot of talent of the years. Still the most familiar Seattle rapper to most outside of the town is Sir Mix-A-Lot (who really was not so wack when you look at his pre “Baby Got Back” output). Important as he was in terms of temporarily raising the city’s profile “Seattle hip-hop is a lot more than Mix-A-Lot” to quote rapper Byrdie from an interview I conducted a few years ago. Here’s a random sampling of what’ve people from ‘tha town’ have done/are doing:

“Welcome to Seattle” by the Boom Bap Project (Reprogram, Rhymesayers, 2005)

Minnesota based Rhymesayers Entertainment has formed some productive connections with a few Seattle crews. Boom Bap Project–a trio comprised of MC’s Karim and Destro Destructo and prominet local DJ, Scene–has certainly benefited from Rhymesayers relatively increased profile and as their name indicates consciously aspires for that classic boom bap sound.

“My Posse’s on Broadway” by Sir Mix-A-Lot (Swass, American, 1988)

This is a classic. Mix, in his typically funny fashion, takes listeners on a journey through a lot of Seattle landmarks. The Onion’s Nathan Rabin interviewed Mix back in ’03. I remember reading it and coming away with a greater respect for him.

“Freewheelin”  and “The Ave” by the Blue Scholars (Blue Scholars, Blue Scholars/Light in the Attic, 2004)

I really like Blue Scholars whereas a homie just recently mentioned to me that he can’t mess with them since they sould like “they hold hands when they rap.” Nevertheless the duo’s experienced a lot of success in the Northwest.

“Rock Co.Kane Flow”, De La Soul feat. MF Doom

(The Grind Date, Sanctuary, 2004)  (Production by Jake One)

In the past few years the most significant strides in Seattle hip-hop have been in the production arena. Jake One is a notable example and “Rock Co.Kane Flow” is just one of long list of beats he’s made for artists beyond Seattle. Here’s a list of some of his notable beats compiled by the Seattle Weekly a few years back.

“Bang Bang” Freeway feat. 50 Cent

This track (appropriately featured in XXL’s “Bangers” section in May) from Freeway’s yet to be released sophomore album was produced by Seattle producer and former Source of Labor member Vitamin D.

“Wanted” feat. Reggie Watts (N Flight, N-flight Productions, 2004)

In my early year you didn’t hear hip-hop much less Seattle hip-hop on FM radio and while it dominates some FM playlists little of it is homegrown. Byrdie, who likens himself to LL Cool J, recently brokethrough with “Wanted” a collaboration with Maktub’s Reggie Watts.

“Voltronic Instructional Espionage” by Grayskul feat. Bazooka Tooth and Cip One (Deadlivers, Rhymesayers, 2005)

Nastyness the legendary Filipino DJ who created and hosted Seattle’s first rap radio show on 1250 KFOX Seattle picked Seattle group Grayskul as ones to watch a year and a half a go.

“Freedom 2 Tha Kings” by American Hero feat. Butterfly of Digable Planets (Secret Life of Porchmonkeys, 2006)

American Hero (Ayinde Howell) is an actor/rapper/producer who recently relocated to Brooklyn and has since been cast in an Afro Punk director James Spooner’s follow up flick. This songs features Butterfly of Digable Planets who also hails from tha town although he repped BK pretty hard during Digable’s hey dey.

Lastly I must mention that veteran Seattle mix DJ, DV ONE, was recently the victim of an alleged instance of police brutality. Check Joe Schloss’ blog for the full rundown.

  • Mr.Me

    Killer Mike

  • Mr.Me

    Oh shit…2nd

  • Mr.Me

    Less than a hour to go…Jalylah what do you look like ma?

  • Mr.Me

    I thought she was a rap group at 1st…lol

  • Mikey Ess AKA SukedowN

    No offense, but it is entirely impossible to gain interest in Seattle hip-hop.

    Props for giving exposure to your former locals though.

  • Prince Of The South

    It’s hard as hell to break a city these days, look at Memphis they been trying to get on for a quick minute and still haven’t done much.

  • http://www.thursdayplantation.blogspot.com lar

    props. we appreciate it.

  • Frank

    Someone’s homey has obviously not listened to Blue Scholars whose revolutionary raps are much harder than the pho-thug rap made popular by the white owned media outlets.

  • http://www.myspace.com/crookedlakeprod Andrew Rivers

    Beleive, The Emerald City will be on Hip-Hops map Soon Enough. Crooked Lake Productions is comin out with the movie to change everything. Check out Emerald City @ http://www.myspace.com/crookedlakeprod and http://www.crookedlakeproductions.com

    Holla!

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  • Stax On Deck

    To Prince of The South….Nigga Memphis is on what the fuck are you talking about? M-town one of the main niggaz puttin it down in the Dirty South. I didn’t even know they had niggaz WAAAY over there in Seattle. I wonder if dem boyz be wreckin

  • Southeast DC

    If you in seattle check out my boy Syko or holla at Silver Shadow D

  • http://www.thursdayplantation.blogspot.com lar

    EP, check
    http://www.raindrophustla.blogspot.com
    for 14 Fathoms and other 206 goodness…

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  • http://www.myspace.com/pleazie F U

    Seattle has produced some of the greatest musicians. When Rock was gettin watered down, Nirvana came in and fixed it. Now that hip-hop is gettin watered down, Seattle will fix it. Check out South Seattle MC, NEEZIE PLEAZE @ http://WWW.MYSPACE.COM/PLEAZIE. Pleaze Believe…. HATERZ!!!

  • daesonesb

    Blue Scholars come off a lil preachy but I dig them.

    As far as producers, sure seattles got a stable of em, but mc’s? Nah. Not really.

  • Dave

    BRING BACK TOMMY BOY RECORDS!!!!

    The rap game is over never again will we experiance true hip hop. Every rapper is following a major label blueprint on how to make rap albums, with gay hooks and shit, give me a primo scratched hook any day, shit if the verses are ill i dont even need a hook.
    Never agin will we see concept albums(Gravediggaz ,Prince Paul) because it seems not hip hop thats dead but CREATIVITY thats dead!!
    Bring CREATIVITY BACK LETS GET A MOVEMENT GOING!!!

    Top 3 groups
    Wu – Tang
    Diggin In The Crates
    Gravediggaz

    Top 3 Rappers
    Nas
    Big L
    Kool G Rap

    Top 3 Producers
    Premo
    RZA
    prince Paul/DRE

  • Raymond

    It’s strange ya mafucaz. You all seem to have listened to pac. But ya neva understood him. Ya str8 bitchez.

  • dasouf

    IM GETTIN TIRED OF PEOPLE TRYNA COMPARE OLE ASS RAPPERS LIKE THIS CAT A FEW SPOTS ABOVE ME, TO RAPPERS OF THIS GENERATION. NIGGA THINK ABOUT THOSE RAPPERS U NAMED SOUNDED SO GOOD AND REVOLUTIONARY BECAUSE IN 1993 RAP WAS JUST TEN YEARS OLD MANE. THAT SHIT WAS TITE BAK THEN BUT NOW IF I LISTEN TO WU-TANG AND THE WEAK ASS GRAVE DIGGAZ THAT SHIT IS VERY WAK. GET WIT DA TIMES MANE ITS D-BOY TIME NOW. IT AINT GO EVA BE ’93 AGAIN UNTIL 2093

  • http://www.myspace.com/dnature DjNature

    Other shit to check from Seattle:

    Common Market
    Unexpected Arrival

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  • daesonesb

    so check it out. WHat the fuck happened to elliot and this guest blogging shit. reallly?

  • WC Repper

    Jalylah really needs to do her fuckin research. You come off sounding very ignorant to people in the know and true residents of this great city. The melting pot of people is greater here than 99% of the places I’ve visited. I’ve lived in VA, Cali, Tennesee, Missouri and probably visited most of the other states so for you to say there is not much for diversity is foolish. As for hip hop, just go to Eastern Wa for that. There’s a little town called Yakima that you’ve probably heard of that boasts a pretty good list of M.C.’s that haved worked with Baby Bash, Mr Capone, Gemini, Brown Boy just to name a few. This is the real hood of WA. Seattlites don’t even like coming here cause they get rode on. And for the rest of you doubter’s, we might not have the most succesful artists yet but everything comes full circle. And if that’s still not enough at least the Pacific Northwest has the best MOTA!!! Figure it out puto!!!

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  • DJSureal

    OK, the author of this article needs to do her research because Vitamin D was never a part of Source of Labor and if she can go back as far to Source of Labor, then she would have heard the Tribal Compilation produced by Vitamin D and Topspin called “Do the Math”. She mentioned Blue Scholars but not Abyssinian Creole or individually Gabe and Khingz. No mention of Specs 1 or Dyme Def. I found this article very contrite and inaccurate. This city is very diverse and so is the Hip-Hop scene. This article was not well written and I will be sending emailing this to other local artists so they can help revise it.

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