The Physics - "Coronas On Madrona"

I originally posted this song as a part of The Physics' Three Piece, but with summer in the Northwest fast approaching, I wanted to give "Coronas On Madrona" its proper shine. The sun has been peeking out today, giving us a preview of the 70 degrees, no humidity, gorgeous days of Seattle summer that we can expect for the next 3-4 months in the Upper Left.

Almost every song in The Physics' discography is a summer gem meant to be played this time of year. From "Good" to "I Heart Beer" to "These Moments" to "Skylines," nearly every song is a laid-back, soulful masterpiece that can immediately bring you back home. "Coronas" is one of the group's very best and ended up making the final cut for our 64-song Seattle hip hop bracket.

Whether your sipping on a Corona at a Madrona BBQ, Red Hook/Elysium on Capitol Hill, or a quality imported brew at Brouwer's in Fremont, it's a quintessential Seattle anthem meant to be enjoyed on an idyllic Northwest summer afternoon.


Nas - "Be Worried" (prod. Swizz Beatz)

Swizz Beatz' "Top Down" was already a decent song in its own right way back on GTA IV, but Nasty absolutely demolished it. This track is from a few years back (Mr. Jones recorded it sometime between Untitled and Distant Relatives), but a lot of people haven't heard it so I'm bringing it back. "Be Worried" may not be as hardhitting as his Stillmatic tracks (let's be honest, few are), but it's a fun song that's an example of an emcee nearly two decades into his career and still near his peak.

Peace, Love, & Nasir,
Nasty Noah

Previous: Nas - "My War" (feat. Wu-Tang Clan?)

J. Cole - "N***az Know"

A much more lyrically vicious effort from J-Dot than "Power Trip" (J. Cole the singer is, thankfully, nowhere in sight). A bare bones instrumental places all the more emphasis on Cole's lyrics. Born Sinner drops on the same day Yeezus rises (June 18th). Check back later for the official track list.

Previous: J. Cole, Big K.R.I.T. & Kendrick Lamar - "They Ready"

Wale - "Sight Of The Sun" (feat. Fun.)

This is the Wale that hip hop heads fell for leading up to Attention Deficit. It's very reminiscent of pre-AD tracks, "Bittersweet" and "Fly Away" where the DMV native drops a verse or two over a celebrated song. This time, Wale brings back his effortless flow and witty wordplay over this gorgeous Fun. song of the same name. Here's hoping that it's a sign that The Gifted (dropping June 25th) will be more Attention Deficit and less Ambition.

Wale's dumbed down his sound and lyrics for popular appeal since signing to Maybach, so you can never tell, but I'm still hoping at the least for a Nas-esque career arch (a revered debut album followed by disappointing releases before a career resurrection). Too bad hip hop is too PC these days and it doesn't look like Jay-Z/J. Cole is going to drop a Wale diss track anytime soon to awaken Folarin from his slumber.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

The Roots - "Break You Off" (feat. Musiq)

I'm not typically a proponent of 7+ minute songs. My ADHD attention span typically can't take tracks of that length, but I love every second of The Roots' "Break You Off." As the title implies, it's not their most politically centered song (it's essentially about that pursuit of meaningless sex), but it may very well be my favorite Roots song.

From the live band backed instrumental to the swooning Musiq hook and bridge to the seemingly effortless Black Thought lyrics, this hypnotic dance track has no flaws.

The one-two combination of "The Seed (2.0)"-"Break You Off" is absolutely deadly on the group's 2002 album, Phrenology and part of the reason why the album is almost universally upheld as a hip hop classic.

Previous: The Roots - "Doin' It Again" x "The Fire" (feat. John Legend)

Curren$y - "Address (feat. Stalley)"

"Y'all muthafuckas graduated already??"

I recently discovered that around this time of year, when kids are graduating from high school and college and other education-type institutions, I get a little nostalgic. Most people aren't good at saying goodbye to things they love, and I fall easily into that category. When you see other people re-living something that you can't have back, you naturally get a little bitter.

Instead of examining a song that conveys empathy towards bittersweet endings or a song that's just plain bitter, let's take a look at "Address," off of Curren$y's debut (and I will argue tooth-and-nail, best) record. The beat is Ski Beatz at his best, laying spaced-out choral tones over a steady 808-break. Curren$y is at his best here, stringing together phrases with nearly non sequitur sequences that mesh into one bright but cloudy image. Meanwhile, Stalley plays a similar game, his laid-back everyman flow allowing him to make creative slant rhymes like "long beard / round here" to string his verse into one very cohesive piece of writing.

However, the greatness of this song, and why graduates (and anybody else who is transitioning somewhere in their life) should take a listen, isn't in it's lyrical components. It's in the refrain.

"It's all good ain't gotta be said, it's already understood /
ain't nothin', ain't nothin' change but the address /
Fool ain't nothin' change but the address"

He may be talking about his own staunch refusal to go mainstream, but we can all take a page out of Curren$y's book here. Every time some thing ends, it feels like everything is different. That's rarely true. Spitta reminds us that, no matter how many times the script gets revised, we're still in the same role. We're the same people we always were, and probably always will be. I don't mean to say we aren't going to grow, just look at the difference between Pilot Talk and The Stoned Immaculate. What I'm saying is, no matter where we go, who we are always holds us down, in the best way possible. Curren$y says it best in one of his sneaky-good, oh-so-Curren$y lines:

"Makin' hot wheels outta hoopties / holdin' it down like balloon strings"

Curren$y - "Address (feat. Stalley)"

Blue Scholars - "The Long March"

Quick post today. Since I'm prepping for job interviews, I figured it would be appropriate to post the title-track off Geo and Sabzi's second album. The Long March EP is probably my favorite Scholars project (sorry Bayani, you came close). I'm a huge proponent of EPs because they tend to cut down on lesser filler tracks, leaving listeners with the crème de la crème.

The Long March is no different and I bumped it constantly when I first acquired it back in 2005. A lot of tracks from the EP barely missed the cut for our Seattle Tournament Bracket and for a while I knew every single lyric to every single song (I've got to shout out to the beautiful, haunting "La Botella" tale). Give me a couple spins through the thirty-five minute EP and it all comes back to me.

When I introduce people to the Scholars, I point to this criminally underrated EP first and Bayani second. Lyrically, it may be Geologic/Prometheus Brown at his finest with his fieriest revolutionary rhetoric. Production wise, it's a beautiful blend of the golden age horns that Sabzi was using on Common Market and the sound he had used on the Scholar's self-titled debut (marking a transition before the synth-filled sound of Bayani).

The EP is further proof of why these blue collar scholars are the kings of smart, political rap from Renton to Shoreline. The Seattle shoutout song "Cornerstone" (206 rock rock on) followed by this song about labor grind was the perfect way to start out The Long March and it continued from there. Enjoy and left right, left keep marching on.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,
No Days Off Noah

Previous: 206ness Tournament Bracketology | Blue Scholars - "Second Chapter"

Common Market - "Tobacco Road"

I'll forever call it home and I'll feel it whenever I call home.

It occurs to me that I don't have an individual post highlighting one of my favorite songs of the genre. There's a reason that this track made the final four in our gigantic 64-Song Seattle Hip Hop Bracket--nearly everything about this song is perfect.

In my youth (circa four years ago), I used to prefer Common Market's self-titled debut. Between Sabzi's horns and RA Scion's lyricism and hopeful message, 2005's Common Market was an absolute triumph of golden age sound. But as I've spun the duo's sophomore album more often in the past couple years, I've come to realize that Tobacco Road is a northwest classic in its own right.

Living Legends - "Nothing Less" (feat. Slug)

I can't believe that it's taken me this long to get around to posting about this legendary Cali collective. The LA/Bay Area-based Living Legends are composed of some of the most well respected underground west coast emcees (including Grouch and Murs) and have been making classic music together for nearly two decades.

This song, my favorite off 2001's Almost Famous, is one of the group's best and contains one of the Sad Clown's better verses. It's a gorgeous track that, in four brief minutes, touch upon all the important steps in a person's life. Enjoy.

Big K.R.I.T. - "If I Fall" (f. Melanie Fiona) x "Country Shit"

In celebration of the King Remembered In Time's show in Seattle on June 1st, I wanted to drop off two of my favorite K.R.I.T. tracks. The first is the gorgeous Melanie Fiona-assisted "If I Fall"--one of the best off the Mississippi emcee's debut 2012 album, Live From The Underground. K.R.I.T. is the natural successor to Southern rappers like Houston's Scarface. He's an emcee able to make diverse songs from the deep, intelligent commentary tracks ("Hometown Hero") to the hype tracks ("Country Shit") to Trap music staples ("Money On The Floor").

I have an irrational love of "Country Shit" having seen K.R.I.T. perform it live in Chicago last summer. Along with "Just Touched Down," "Return of 4Eva," "Rotation," and "I Got This," this hype track is just one of the many songs that lend themselves to one of the best live acts that I've seen. It's incrediblly high energy and fans absolutely go nuts whenever he plays this song. If any of you are in The 6 next Saturday night, I highly suggest finding your way to El Corazon.

If you like what you hear, make sure to cop K.R.I.T.'s debut album and download the rest of his mixtapes (particularly K.R.I.T. Wuz Here).

Peace, Love, & K.R.I.T.,

"Country Shit"

Previous: J. Cole, Big K.R.I.T. & Kendrick Lamar - "They Ready"

Logic - Welcome To Forever [Review]

This is the realest,
Only unto the real shall I reveal this.
I even made this beat myself just so y'all could feel this.
From Nasty Nas to Big L to A Tribe Called Quest,
We the Rattpack in other words the tribe that's next.

One of the things that I've always appreciated about sharing music on this blog is that it's forced me to stay up to date on the latest up-and-coming artists. In order to bring the best of the best to you good people, I have to scour the internets to find that next best act. It's part of the reason why my recent absence was all the more painful--I basically have a year-long gap in my iTunes library (I promise that I'm mostly caught up). 

That's part of the reason why I missed out on the rise of DMV emcee Logic from high school dropout to XXL Freshman. But it's also why I was able to come to Welcome To Forever with fresh ears and without any biases. It was my first time hearing this talented artist and it's why it was such a pleasant surprise that this mixtape was one of the best things that I've heard lyrically in sometime.

J. Cole, Big K.R.I.T. & Kendrick Lamar - "They Ready"

J. Cole will always be held to a higher standard. He's the Andrew Luck of this generation's rappers. The number one overall pick by Jay-Z, a man that many hold to be the GOAT. Cole has all the tools to surpass his mentor and like Luck will always be compared to the man he succeeded (Manning for Luck, Jay for Cole). Anything less than MVPs and rings will be viewed as a failure for Luck. It's why good will never be good enough for J. Cole or Luck. It's why Cole World--a good album in its own right--was a disappointment. Every time that Cole hops on a track, we expect a classic song or a classic album. It's an absurd expectation, but that's what he's capable of and something that he'll have to struggle to live up to.

If J. Cole is Luck then Kendrick Lamar is the RG3 of this generation--a similarly gifted rapper who was the first round pick by another classic artist--Dr. Dre. As one would expect from one following in the footsteps of former Dre proteges Snoop Feline and Eminim, Lamar can rap circles around your favorite emcee better RG3 juking out defenders. Lamar will be held to similarly high standards (but not nearly as high as J. Cole). It was not surprising at all that Lamar had the best freshman album of these three talented rappers--he's gone the furthest in living up to his immense potential so far (if only he could get some more diverse instrumentals on his next album).

FUPM - "Alright, Alright" x "Dope Out My Window"

FUPM. It stands for Fuck You, Pay Me, and I'm not one to argue with these guys (download links aside). FUPM is Bobby Creekwater and Stat Quo. Both have made a name for themselves independently; Bobby Creekwater as a once "next up" emcee who never made that final leap to the mainstream (we've featured him on the site before), and Stat Quo was the second emcee signed to Aftermath Records after 50 Cent.

They're both undoubtedly talented rappers, but before now neither had found a sound that fit either of them. Now, together, they have. Maybe it was age, experience, or just a change in the culture around them, but these two songs are some of my very favorites to slap with the windows down rolling around town once summer arrives. There's a supposed album in the works very soon, but FUPM's social media accounts haven't been exactly prolific recently. So, I'll use this post as hype for something that might not even exist. Never discount the power of hype.

The first track samples and is based around a Kevin Hart joke, but despite any apparent facetiousness, I too found myself chanting "alright, alright, alriiiiight" after the first few listens. Bobby Creekwater and Stat Quo trade verses throughout the song, both absolutely killing the track. The second song especially embodies why these songs are excellent. The song is ostensibly about smoking copious amounts of marijuana and having that shit flow out the window with abandon. I liken it to when I roll down the windows so that everyone has to hear the audio dope* I have turned up beyond loud. It's near impossible to pick out a favorite verse from these songs, so I'll just leave you with these bars from Bobby Creekwater, who shows that swagger is only played out when the term is used undeservedly. These muthafuckas have some swagger.

"I got one night, with an appetite
and a swagger this bitch just have to like /
she got half a night to rock half the mic
she gon' probably remember this in the afterlife"

"Alright, Alright"
"Dope Out My Window"

Previous: Bobby Creekwater - "2 Far Gone" x "I Hate You Too"

*Credit, Curren$y

Champagne Champagne - Champagne Mixtape

As promised, the Seattle trio of Thomas Gray, Pearl Dragon, and Gajamagic dropped off their Champagne Mixtape this morning. The five tracks aside from the intro are a mix of old and new. "Cave Singer Pop Rocks" is the trio's extended rendition of "Soda & Pop Rocks" (off Private Party) that Gajamagic places over new mellow beat. The same story with "Playground Swine" which is "Swine" over a new beat, but as far as I can tell, the other three tracks are brand stanking new.

Champagne Champagne - "The Breaks" x "Four Horsemen"

Champagne Champagne is a group that tends to slip under the radar even within the Seattle hip hop scene. Part of this has to do with the fact that they're atrocious to google (nearly every rapper has a song/album with Champagne in the title). Part of it has to do with the fact that this two out of three of this experimental synth/rock/hip hop trio's best songs come as features on other artists' albums.

"Kings" was the best song on Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' monumental Vs. EP and Sir Thomas Gray had what was perhaps the best verse on the entire project. The trio were also featured on "What You Asked For," which was by far the best song off State of the Artist's debut, Seattlecalifragilisticextrahelladopeness (this time with Pearl Dragon giving the album's best verse).

Dumbfoundead & DJ Zo - "Zonin" x "No Strings Attached"

Soak it up, and dance all night til you sweat out all the toxins /
so soak it up, this is that music for your body to get lost in

Dumbfoundead hails from Koreatown, LA. He's brash, cocky, and nothing you'd expect from an immigrant Korean kid brought up in Los Angeles. Or maybe he is, depending on your perception of Asian stereotypes. No matter what stereotypes prevail, Dumbfoundead breaks them all.

Recently, Dumbfoundead was featured on NPR's Code Switch series. He also recently released a new mixtape, Old Boy Jon (download it, it's free). These are all great ways to get acquainted with the rapper who's done more for Asians in hip hop in his career than anyone else, and may have undone everything that Jin did*.

These songs are the first two that appear on the Cut + Paste mixtape, and also the first two songs I listened to by Dumbfoundead. The tape's concept has DJ Zo sampling popular indie songs and mixes them into beats for Dumbfoundead to express himself on. The combination of Dumb's laid-back flow and the variety of artists DJ Zo samples, the concept the works quite well, sounding distinct enough to fall well outside of the overwrought 'mash-up' genre.

Clinton Sparks - "Gold Rush" (feat. Macklemore, 2 Chainz, & D.A.)

Not really the artists that I'd expect Macklemore to collaborate with on his first new music since The Heist. It sounds more like the newly signed Def Jams artist Clinton Sparks hired two buzzworthy artists (Mack & 2 Chainz) to help hype up his album. The song might work better with a different instrumental (especially without those annoying high pitched whistles), but maybe it's a song that will grow on me or will be remixed with a better instrumental (I'm looking at you Ryan Lewis).

Still, you can't really complain about the first new Macklemore in over eight months.

Black Moon - "What Would U Do" (feat. Sean Price)

I'm normally not a huge fan of New York's Black Moon, but I have an irrational love of this song off their Total Eclipse album. Even though it's from 2003, the sparse De Beatminerz instrumental has a distinct 90's feel and features emcees Buckshot and Sean Price trading short verses that sound much more like a conversation than songs with more bars per verse.

It's an underrated classic that deserved a bit more shine. Enjoy.

Shad - "Rose Garden" f. Lisa Lobsinger x "A Good Name" x "Call Waiting"

One of hip hop's better kept secrets hails from our neighbor to the north. I first heard Canadian-raised Shadrach Kabango when he opened for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis in New York a couple years back. Based on his incredible live set, I immediately copped his 2010 album TSOL and haven't been disappointed by what I've heard from Shad since.

The son of Rwandan immigrants, Shad is a natural storyteller who uses playful lyrics to convey at times deep, powerful messages over a classic golden age sound. Despite some of the deeper songs, he never comes across as preachy and is one of my favorite Canadian emcees along with Saukrates.

Of these three, "A Good Name" is probably my favorite. It sees Shad take pride in his origins, tracing his given name back to the Biblical Shadrach (Saved by a faith stronger than flame/ If I'm half as brave, then I'll honor my name) before tracing his surname back to Rwanda and his own father.

It's a great song off a great album. If you like what you here, make sure to cop TSOL and be on the look out for his follow-up, Flying Colours, set to be released sometime later this year. Enjoy.

"Rose Garden"

"A Good Name"

"Call Waiting"

The-Dream - "IV Play"

Sometimes, you have to listen to the poppiest thing.

The-Dream can be corny. He's known to use the posse shout "Ayee!" more liberally than Guy Fieri uses mayonnaise*, as if all his homeboys are in the room with him every time he's making sweet love to a respectable lady-friend. He gets away with it because his songs are the epitome of Pop music, in their own right. There isn't ever one sound or genre of music that defines Pop, because it's defined by whatever is popular at the time, and The-Dream has written and produced quite a bit of popular music in his career. The-Dream realizes Pop music, every cheesy** move included.

J. Cole - Born Sinner Artwork x "Shook"

In a tweet earlier today, J. Cole announced that his sophomore album, Born Sinner, has been completed and the release date has been moved up to June 18th from the original June 25th, which means that it will be debuting on the same day as a certain Chicago producer's highly anticipated Yeezus. Stay tuned for the track listing and in the meantime, make sure to check out the Kendrick Lamar Born Sinner story that Cole released to build hype for the album.

Here's hoping that J. Cole the singer doesn't ruin too many of J. Cole the rapper's songs (as demonstrated on the album's first single, "Power Trip"). Hit the jump for the deluxe version artwork and the stream/download of one of my favorite pre-Warm Up Cole freestyles over Mobb Deep's classic "Shook Ones" instrumental. Via Xclusives Zone.

KnowMads - "Happy Simples" x "Who Are You?"

Two underrated songs KnowMad songs that both missed the final cut for the 64-song 206ness bracket. Both are off the first album, So It Goes, which I'm still astounded that the group made when they were sixteen and seventeen. The quality of the album is made all the more astounding when you listen Professor Macklemore's Open Your Eyes, which he made when he was around the same age. Where Open Your Eyes sounds like a rough demo cut, So It Goes sounds like a refined album with several classic Seattle songs ("Sunrise" made it to the Final Four of said bracket).

"Happy Simples" is a song that I often compare to Grynch's "Memory Lane." Its beautiful song about growing up and lost innocence that sees them rapping to Cheef's kid brother about the difference between life at his age and life as a teenager. It's an incredibly endearing song that demonstrated the KnowMad crew's talent from a very early point in their careers.

"Who Are You?" loses a lot of steam after Tom Pepe's first verse, but that verse is still one of my favorites from this very talented, young Seattle emcee.

Well I'm a big bad motherfucker waiting for his time,
I'm a millionaire Scarface waiting for his line.
I'm a million steps ahead of you, piercing through the sky,
Many will follow, but very few can fly.

If you like what you hear, make sure to download their first two albums, which they released for free.99 and support their latest effort, The KnewBook.

Peace, Love, & The 6,

"Happy Simples"

Note: "Who Are You?" is having errors uploading to Audiomack, if you want to hear it, go here.

Kidz In The Hall - "Wheelz Fall Off" x "Day By Day/We Almost Lost"

In high school I was most talkative
Now I'm most decadent
Flow heaven sent
Laced intelligent
Your's irrelevant
Hot like fire cooler then peppermint
Still benevolent
Rose gold necklace
You was left negligent
Case closed, no settlement or arraignment
Spit for my sanity not for entertainment
Never on some lame shit
Lean to the left y'all on the same shit
Imitate the same hit
You think that's dope I say hardly
Don't listen to radio singled out like McCarthy
Trying to be the black McCartney

Sam Lachow presents..."Young Seattle Pt. 2"

EDIT: Added a couple Sam Lachow (and Raz) songs down bottom to get to know him better. The first is a sorta-kinda love song from his EP 5 Good Reasons with Raz Simone, the second is the opening track from his Avenue Music EP.

In light of Macklemore's runaway success, let me introduce some Seattle spitters that haven't ever been featured on this site. Internet, meet Sam Lachow, Gift uh Gab, Nacho Picasso, Jarv Dee, La, Raz Simone, and Grynch.

These rappers aren't total unknowns (we've featured Grynch on this site more than once), but this showcase is a great way to get acquainted with their various styles. Each of the emcees is quite different, keeping the song really fresh. It also doesn't hurt that each emcee only gets a quick 16 before handing off the mic. This is a video that needs to be watched more than once.

Sam Lachow and Kromagnon construct a sparse beat, perfect for each verse to have full reign of. Most posse cuts have a repetitive beat that doesn't grow over the course of the song, but this song takes a more subtle route. Instead of leaving the boom-bap of Sam's verse for all the other's to do their thing on, the producers make slight shifts after each verse, complementing the style of each emcee. Sam Lachow's goofy, laid-back flow sets the tone, Gift uh Gab gets a shaker effect and a breakdown, Nacho Picasso takes the beat into outer space...I could go on, but words pale in comparison to the aural experience.

Just like any good posse cut, there's the accompanying debate about who really killed it. I'll withhold my opinion, but let us know down bottom.
"Coyotes (feat. Ariana DeBoo)"

"Got Soul (feat. Ariana DeBoo)"*

*I swear Ariana DeBoo isn't on all of his tracks, although her voice is beautiful.

OutKast - "Last Call" (feat. Slimm Calhoun, Lil' Jon & The Eastside Boyz, & Mello)

Quick post today since I'm out of town:

Even though Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was labeled as an OutKast album, in reality it was just Three Stacks and Left Foot's first solo albums that they released together. Only two of the thirty-nine tracks feature the ATLiens performing together.

The Love Below is more popular, with hits like "Hey Ya!" and "Roses." It also features more singing than rapping from André 3000, which is perfectly fine. I hold that Benjamin and Lauryn Hill are the only people on earth talented enough to pull off both (to which the new wave of rappers bears increasing testimony--as much as I love J. Cole the emcee, I hate J. Cole the tone deaf singer who ruins J. Cole the emcee's songs).

But Speakerboxxx is the better pure hip hop album and my favorite of the two. From the booming bass of the "Intro/Ghetto Musick" to "Church" to the Hova-assisted "Flip Flop Rock" to the closing "Last Call" there isn't a single skippable song on the album. Big Boi often gets overshadowed in everyone's love of his recording partner, but he's a Top-15 emcee in his own right. Any Top-25 list is not to be taken seriously without mentioning Patton somewhere on the list.

"Last Call" is a sneaky good party track that a surprising amount of people haven't heard (mostly because a lot of people just pay attention to singles). Its one of my personal favorites and is one of the best ATL songs. Bump it at the party this weekend and, whatever your plans, remember to stay classy.

Peace, Love, & ATLiens,

Previous: Purple Ribbon All-Stars - "Kryptonite (I'm On It)"

206ness 2013: A Celebration of Seattle Hip Hop [Bracketology]

(Click to enlarge)

Live from occupied Duwamish territory, I bring you this massive post celebrating the Seattle hip hop scene.

I originally considered writing this article in my younger days when I first started this blog back in 2009, but decided against it for two reasons. The first was that I don't believe in ranking songs/albums/mixtapes as better or worse than each other. Good music should be appreciated as good music without the pressure of being quantified.

The second and frankly more pressing concern was that there wasn't enough of a Northwest hip hop scene to make it worthwhile. Had I put together this bracket four years ago, it would have been composed almost entirely out of Blue Scholars, Common Market, and Dyme Def songs and I would have had to stretch it to include 64 songs.

So, what's changed over the past four years? We've seen the continued emergence and growth of post-Massline generation acts like Dyme Def, The Physics, Fresh Espresso, and Grynch to name a few. We've seen the reconstruction of Nissim (formerly D. Black), the resurrection and subsequent explosion of Macklemore, and the emergence of talented young producers in P Smoov, Ryan Lewis, and Brainstorm.

For me, this post isn't so much about determining what Seattle songs are better, so much as celebrating the artists and songs that have transformed the city into a shining beacon within the hip hop community. Far removed from the draconian burdens of the Teen Dance Ordinance, hip hop in the Upper Left is alive and thriving.

The quality of the music has reached the point where, in the process of compiling this article, I narrowed down the potential songs to a quote-unquote "short" list of 187 songs. There are so many talented local artists that classics such as "Second Chapter," "White Privilege," and "North By Northwest" didn't make the final cut. Four years ago, I probably would have had to include "Baby Got Back." Today, it didn't even make the song short list (though "Posse's On Broadway" made the short list--the song is a lot better than memory serves).

Artists from 25 groups make at least one appearance on the list, pushing even the revered Blue Scholars song, "The Ave," (probably my favorite of their live songs) off the final 64 song cut.

The difference between #42 and #90 was minuscule, so an argument could be made for many more songs making the list. If you can't believe that I left off Song A or had Song B beating Song C, please be sure to give your preference and describe, in great detail, precisely how brain damaged you believe me to be in the comments section below. I encourage the conversation and enjoy hearing what other people's favorites are (especially if you believe that I overlooked an artist).

Considering the songs that just missed, the final 64 is a fairly select group that's also fairly representative of the music scene as a whole. As I mentioned, emcees from twenty-five local acts make at least one appearance on the list with Massline, Sportn' Life, Out For Stardom, and most local consortiums being represented. But enough of me talking. You want to hear the music.

Sol - "Stage Dive"

It's impossible to hate this incredibly endearing song off Solzilla's 2012 album, Yours Truly. Look for it on the forthcoming 64 Song 206ness bracket. Lyrics after the jump. Enjoy.

Previous: Dear Friends, Vol: II

Dyme Def - "Intro-Ducing" x "Conscience" x "DontEverGo" (feat. Choklate)

Your wallet seems real heavy, a little too heavy to carry,
I'm just trying to help 'em out by any means necessary,
Suddenly I'm in the game and suddenly I'm legendary,
Suddenly your permanent position's turning temporary,
Turn away before it's too late, I'm too great,
No more time to eat you old n***as, I'm on a new plate.

It's tracks like this that make the blunder that was Sex Tape all the more unbearable. People forget how groundbreaking Dyme Def were when they first dropped. When I first put Space Music into my car back in 2007, it was like nothing I'd ever heard before and certainly like nothing that had come out of Seattle. I didn't want to listen to anything else ever again and played the album constantly for a three-four month period. From the minute that you heard "Intro-Ducing," you were hooked. The album started with so much energy and so many one-liners that you didn't have a choice but to listen to the entire thing over and over again.

It was as if OutKast and the Beasties had an unholy trio of love children and an adopted son (BeanOne), then subsequently abandoned them in the Upper Left. They had out of this world rhymes and subject matter that seemed to be descended from ATLiens and out of the world BeanOne and Brainstorm beats that took what the Mario C did for the Beasties back on Hello Nasty (see "Super Disco Breakin'," "Intergalactic") to an entirely new level. Like the Beasties, the trio fed off each other, trading bar for bar and at times word for word with an impeccable chemistry that made them the best local live act.

Space Music and their follow up 3BadBrothaaas showed that you didn't have to solely be a conscious rapper to be popular in The 6. In the process, Dyme Def kicked in the door for an entire post-Massline generation of Seattle emcees from Fresh Espresso to Champagne Champagne

And while everyone loves the high energy tracks like "GetDown," "TheGameNeedsMe," and "3BadBrothaaas," it was down to earth songs like "LetitBe," "Conscience," and "DontEverGo" that made the trio the complete package. Everyone knows and loves "LetitBe," but these two songs off 3BadBrothaaas deserve credit in their own right.

Childish Gambino - "Sunrise"

Well, here goes my first post.

Childish Gambino is one of those polarizing types. The kind of rapper that hip hop heads undoubtedly have a strong opinion of. Especially since his first talent wasn't rapping, it was writing and acting, and mostly comedy to boot. These kinds of things don't exactly construct the archetypal personas that most rappers adhere to. Pitchfork's vitriol-filled (and in my opinion, extremely narrow-minded) review of his album doesn't hurt either.

I like Childish*. Sometimes he falls flat, or comes off as trying way too hard, but to me that's only a sign of his truly earnest investment in trying. Unlike so many rappers, his mantra doesn't stand on some version of "I don't give a fuck." He's exactly the opposite, caring too much...while still occasionally posturing like he doesn't. Okay, Childish Gambino can still be a bit contradictory.

As for the song? This is, plain and simple, a dope summer track. It's the right mix of hyped-up, sing-along, and angry. A song where no individual lyric stands out, this one is carried by his vocal cadence. The beat has hand-claps, which can be corny, but they work here. Hard to listen to without cracking just a little bit of a smile.

"I've seen the future, and the future goooo..."


*I also like Community, but that's besides the point.

GMK - "Music Swinger"

GMK may be Cali-based these days, but he'll always be Seattle in his heart. This incredibly catchy tune, which reminds me a bit of slightly more pop-oriented sibling of Champagne Champagne's "Soda & Pop Rockets," comes courtesy of his 2009 EP, Songs For Bloggers, which is no longer has a home on the internets (but he's assured me that he's going to re-up). Look for it on thatsthatish's forthcoming 64-song 206ness bracket. If you like what you hear, make sure to download GMK's latest project from his bandcamp.

Peace, Love, & The 6,

Previous: GMK - "Dream Rules"

Khingz - "Southend's Finest"

One half of the now-defunct Abyssinian Creole, this Cali/NY-based, Seattle-born emcee Khingz (now ka.lil) drops one of my favorite first verses to any song over this subdued instrumental. It's the final song on Pho99, which can be downloaded for free at his bandcamp. Khingz, what do you have to say?

And I never had a hangover,
Always woke up the next day way sober.
Shooting at the house party, bullets missed me
Like I miss Anne Colver and Milu,
And Elaine-y, life's too short for just, 'Fuck You, Pay Me,'
Gotta new sport, that's 'Love You Crazy,'

(Note: pardon me for what are more than likely misspelled names, there are no lyrics online for me to base them off.)

Nissim/D. Black - "Welcome To The Life" (feat. Dyme Def) x "This Is Why" x "Unbelievable"

I wasn't the biggest fan of Damian Black's 2006 album, The Cause and Effect. The album presented a rough cut of the Sportn' Life founder as aspiring thug rapper that didn't quite ring true. It was the more honest tracks, "Secret Place" (a personal dedication to his mother who had recently passed), "This Is Why," and the Dyme Def-assisted "Welcome To The Life," that showed listeners what this Seattle emcee was truly capable of.

Both songs are held as 206 staples. "This Is Why" is a beautiful, soulful song about the trials and tribulations of growing up in South Seattle and depicts a much different perspective than Macklemore or the King of Ballard.

People forget that Dyme Def was initially closely associated with Sportn' Life and actually recorded their demo with Black's label. The BeanOne-produced "Welcome To The Life," is one of my favorite from the Space Music trio. It has a pre-Space Music grittiness that was evident on their demo and many tracks on their debut while still having all the humor, bravado, and lyrical skill of Space Music and 3BadBrothaaas. It has some of my Favorite DD/Black verses that paint a very distinct picture of urban life over a cinematic BeanOne instrumental. For some reason, I compare it to a musical version of 25th Hour (if Spike Lee was from Seattle and made a gritty, beloved film about his hometown).

Introducing... ThisIsTheCarver

It's a great day for I'm excited to introduce ThisIsTheCarver as a new writer for the site. As you know, thatsthatish is my baby and I've been hesitant to relinquish any form of creative control of the blog. I wouldn't add Carver if I didn't admire his impeccable taste in music, excellent writing, and unique perspective.

Back in the day, Carver was the person who introduced me to Mobb Deep, KnowMads, and the impressive collection of hip hop available for free.99 at Seattle's Public Libraries. I returned the favor by introducing him to Dyme Def, Grynch, and J. Cole.

In a way, he's been here since the inception of the site as the blog was born out of a daily e-mail chain that I wrote for my friends. He's also been a willing victim quality control listener for early versions of my last few mixtapes before the refined product arrives for you people (so blame him, not me).

I'm excited to see what Carver brings to thatsthatish and please join me in welcoming him to the site. Make sure to follow him on Twitter and spam him about his superb taste in music, writing, or boyish good looks.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

Fleeta Partee - "Sincerely Yours" (prod. BeanOne)

This track actually dates back a couple years to when the Central District rapper was still with Sportn' Life and still going by Big Partee. Still, it doesn't get the shine that it deserves in Seattle because a.) not many people know what a Fleeta/Big Partee is and b.) most people didn't bother to cop the YukTheWorld Posts from BeanOne's BandCamp. This undiscovered gem is well worth the price of admission (free.99) and I recommend downloading the entire project. As a bonus, I've included a Fearce Villain track from the same post.

Peace, Love, & The 6,
Netcoholic Noah

Big Partee - "Sincerely Yours" (prod. BeanOne)

Fearce Villain - "Speed Limit" (prod. BeanOne)

R. Kelly - "Sadie"

I'm not a particular fan of R. Kelly, but this song, off his 1993 album 12 Play, is absolutely beautiful. It's a rendition of The Spinners' 1974 song and was dedicated to his mother Joan, who raised him as a single mom in Chicago and had passed away earlier that year. Along with "Dear Mama," it's one of the best Mother's Day songs that hip hop and R&B have to offer.

Happy Mother's Day.

Common Market - "Certitude" (feat. Chev)

This song takes about thirty seconds to get where it needs to be, but it's worth the wait. Once that Sabzi beat kicks in...well, you'll see. I haven't heard much from Chev, but add RA Scion's A rhyme schemes and A+++ vocabulary and this becomes one of the more underrated tracks from one of my favorite artists.

Fences - "The Same Tattoos" (Sabzi Remix)

For those of you that venture beyond the comforting embrace of hip hop (which we all must do from time to time), Seattle native Chris Mansfeld is a name that you should familiarize yourself with. The Berklee-educated lead singer/songwriter of Fences has collaborated with Macklemore in addition to releasing an underrated folk-pop classic with the group's 2009 self-titled album. I won't write anymore about the well-tattooed singer, as this article by Eric Grandy of The Stranger pretty much covers the bases, but I had to post this beautiful, haunting song.

The song, originally from Fences, features Mansfeld singing about the connections he shares with an absent father figure--the necklace he wore to class, the same smile, even the same tattoos--and deals implicitly with the singer's fear of becoming him. While the original version of the song was good, the remix by Sabzi of the Blue Scholars elevates it to an entirely new level. It's one of my personal favorites and I hope you enjoy it.

Peace, Love, & Fences,

Cam'Ron - "Hey Ma" (feat. Juelz Santana)

Hip hop is beautiful in its reflection of life. It has its political tracks, its songs about the stress, the poverty, and the problems of this world that its music shines light on and tries to change. Songs like "All Falls Down," "Dear Mama," and "LetitBe" that tell beautiful tales that connect with listeners on a deep, profound level.

But, like life, hip hop can't be serious all the time. It has its Beasties and its ODBs, artists who's pure joy comes through in all their music. It has its "Gold Diggers," "Just A Friends," and "21 Questions"--songs that, when played, garner an immediate smile from anyone in the nearby vicinity.

"Hey Ma" by Dipset rappers Cam'Ron and Juelz Santana is no different. It's simultaneously one of my favorite summer tracks (along with "Ride Wit Me," "Good," and several others) and favorite "welcome to the weekend songs." The one-two punch of "Ride Wit Me"-"Hey Ma" has been scientifically proven to be lethal and has been a staple of any party playlists since I first got an iPod (it should be noted that the one-two-three shot of "The Boogie That Be"-"Ride Wit Me"-"Hey Ma" has been classified as a weapon of mass destruction in Mexico, the UK, and Zanzibar and is not to be trifled with lightly).

Anyway, I present the perfect weekend song for the perfect pre-summer weekend here in the Upper Left. Enjoy.

Previous: What's In Rotation, Vol. I

Nas - "My War" feat. Wu-Tang Clan? [Unreleased]

Before anyone comments, I know this song doesn't feature Nas or any of the Wu-Tang. If you listen to the (still very dope) song, none of the emcees sound like Mr. Jones or the original nine. It's one of the great mysteries of the internet. The track has been floating around the web since 2004, labeled as an unreleased Wu/Nas collab and NO ONE KNOWS WHO THE EMCEES ACTUALLY ARE.

It kind of sounds like Jedi Mind Tricks/Army of the Pharaohs. Perhaps it's one of the countless C-list Wu-Tang Affiliates. I'll leave it to a higher ranking Iluminati better conspiracy theorist than myself to figure it out. Perhaps, like Stonehenge, Jack the Ripper, or the reason Friday Night Lights got cancelled, we were never meant to know who or why they did it.

Kanye West - The Prerequisite [Unreleased 2001 Demo Tape]

Mr. West was recently kind enough to let loose his 2001 demo tape on the interwebs. For any fan of The College Dropout or Late Registration (so anyone who frequents this site), The Prerequisite is a must download. It includes many rare Ye songs and freestyles as well as many demo and alternate versions of his early classics. As far as demo tapes go, the quality is surprisingly good and download worthy.

On another note, K. West was sitting on this tape back in '01 and still couldn't get a guest feature on The Blueprint or The Black Album? Hit the jump for the stream/dl:

J. Cole - "Return of Simba" x Truly Yours

Maybe over your head, I'm ahead of my time.
N***as scared of my future, I know they're dreadin' my prime,
'Cause I only make classics, what that take--timin'
Cole under pressure, what that make--diamonds.

I know it's a couple years old, but this is the last J-Dot track that I truly love. It's the last of his Simba series of songs ("Grown Simba" remains my favorite song of many on the 2009 classic, The Warm Up). Like its predecessor, the instrumental for "Return of Simba" purposely lacks in extravagance, allowing the listener to focus on Cole's lyrics, which he delivers with the utmost skill and hunger.