With the Blue Scholars and Common Market leading the Seattle hip hop revival in the early part of the last decade, the stereotypical image of the 206 rapper became inseparable from backpack rap. The current Seattle hip hop scene owes everything to Blue Scholars, but today’s Emerald City hip hop has a niche for just about everyone. The city boasts a handful of very talented up and coming producers with a wide range of styles, with the primarily synth-based styles of P Smoov and Brainstorm to the sample-based style of producers like Ryan Lewis. The next generation of 206 emcees includes everything from gangster rap acts (D. Black, Fatal Lucciauno), to lighthearted acts like Fresh Espresso, Helladope, and the Physics (and yes, Seattle still calls itself home to backpack rappers like the KnowMads).
Spaceman’s latest mixtape, Greetings Earthlings, is further proof that Seattle hip hop is thriving. From the outset, Space displays a connection with his hometown that flows in his very veins, claiming that he has that “Seattle heroin flow, I inject it with the Space Needle.” As the mixtape continues, he draws on traditions from all niches of the Northwest hip hop scene and crafts them into a niche inhabited only by himself and Dyme Def.
Spaceman does continue the break from the typical mold of the “conscious Seattle emcee.” Instead (as his moniker suggests) he follows the current trend of the Martian rapper. Even with the plethora of this subgenre (KiD CuDi, Lil’ Wayne, Dyme Def), Greetings Earthlings stands out. Unlike CuDi, Spaceman exclusively raps instead of relying on singing/epic instrumentals. Unlike the current incarnation of Wayne, Spaceman actually utilizes witty lyricism and rhyme schemes.
Greetings Earthlings proves to be a poor man’s Space Music (a compliment for nearly any mixtape). This doesn’t come as a surprise as many of the Space Music songs were recorded while DD was still on Sportn’ Life. Synth beats provide the backdrop for many tracks on each project (“Get It N”), though while Space Music tended to sample older songs by Eric B & Rakim and Jay-Z, Greeting Earthlings relies heavily on Drake samples and instrumentals.
It’s clear with this effort that Spaceman takes his music seriously, but what makes this mixtape and albums like Space Music excel is the amount of fun that the artists have making their music. An artist’s enjoyment can pervade an album and leads to a much more enjoyable listen. Not every track on the album relies on social issues or saving the world (see “Starship,” “L’s Up,” “Get It N”), but on the flip side, not every song centers on women and partying (see “SXSW/CMJ,” “Lust 4 Life”). The result is a project that draws on some of the best aspects of the Seattle hip hop scene—a mixtape that is primarily a celebration of fun in both hip hop and life that still doesn’t turn a blind eye to the larger social conscious.
The combination of these traits presents the listener with a better picture of who this “Martian rapper” is as a person. It’s clear that Spaceman cares about his friends, family, and community, but he also acknowledges his own tendencies to drink, womanize, and party—an honesty that reminds me of the content of Macklemore’s early material.
Greetings Earthlings isn’t a perfect mixtape. It has its stumbling blocks (“Forever (NW Remix),” “What Up Freak”), but also has more than its fair share of cuts (“Intro 40,” “L’s Up,” and “Fear Me” among others). At the end of the day, the mixtape simply provides us with a very enjoyable listen. He’s a very raw talent at the moment, but Spaceman is an artist who is fully capable of carrying the banner of Seattle hip hop on the national stage and, with this release, needs to be included in any further conversations regarding the future of 206 hip hop.
“Get It N”
“SXSW/CMJ” feat. J. Pinder
“Lust 4 Life”
“The Killers” feat. Fatal Lucciauno
“Forever (NW Remix)” – I was surprised that this collaboration didn’t lead to better results. The only emcee that really kills his verse is Grynch. Brain re-uses a line he used on “I Got You,” while Logics and Space provide us with verses worth sleeping on (personally, I find it a little lazy when rappers use “Sleepless” and “Seattle” in the same bar). I wasn’t a big fan of the original and this was one of the few bad tracks I’ve heard from these rappers.
“What Up Freak”
“Fly Dena Muf*ka”
Verdict: At times relies a little too much on Drake samples. Though he tops the Young Money rapper at several points (“Lust 4 Life,” “Fear Me”), this prevents Spaceman from fully forming his own unique style. Still, Greetings Earthlings is definitely worth the download particularly for those of you who are fans of Seattle hip hop or Dyme Def circa-Space Music. It should serve as a fairly solid introduction to a very successful career.
Peace, Love, & Seattle Hip Hop,
P.S. I've attached the artwork and some of my favorite songs below, but I recommend going to Spaceman's bandcamp to download the entire project.