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).
Ali'Yah, Black's 2009 album, was a rare transformative album that saw him completely change as an artist. It was a more mature, grown up album that saw Black shed his thug rapper persona in favor of the visage of a more honest street activist. With no more false conceptions about being a Rick Ross-clone, Black rapped about his recent conversion to Judaism and his desire to change his environment for the better. Ali'Yah was upheld as one of the best Northwest albums of 2009, but also promised to mark Black's last appearance. In a way it was.
No longer D. Black, in the past year he has re-emerged as his new Moniker, Nissim, which is Hebrew for "wonderful things." Having released "Unbelievable" and "Richochet" in anticipation of the June 2013 release of his self-titled album, this new Nissim represents another leap forward as an artist. He's no longer telling tales through the voice of another persona. Nissim represents the real Damian Black, an emcee ready to offer Seattle hip hop much much more.
"Welcome To The Life" (Feat. Dyme Def)
"This Is Why"