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Seattle Hip Hop: The Town The Movement (part 1)

I know my last post was about politics and I will get back to that, but first I want to write a bit about a passion I have, my city and my music.

The Town Banner (graphic thanks to Joe Gelman)

Seattle, a city of rain, coffee (NOT Starbucks… watch Sonicsgate here and see how Schultz betrayed our city), and music. We have a long history of music from Jimmie Hendrix, to Kurt Cobain, from Bing Crosby to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters, from Alice and Chains to Death Cab for Cutie, from Fall of Troy to the Fleet Foxes, and from Soundgarden to the Head and the Heart. We have many genres coming out of Seattle. In the city known as The Town in modern hip hop culture, we know our music.

2005 was the first time I recognized Town hip hop as a real force when the local legends The Blue Scholars (who went to high school near my house) put out their self titled debut album. From there, the music was going up hill. However, it was slow to take off with any kind of traction until these guys put in the work (click the photo).Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (MacklemoreXRyanLewis)

Along with Town hip hop came Town style, like this shirt The Town Shirtfrom swagger and young and stores began thriving like rapper-owned 35th North Skate Shop and Crisis Clothing. All of these and more began bringing a certain style to Seattle that was lacking in my years growing up. Typical, as I leave for college my city gets “cool” but I like to think that my city has always been cool, other people just haven’t noticed. We have Native American culture like no other state, we have both city and nature at our finger tips, we have got the best of all worlds. In so far as being cool in the music world, watch this incredible trailer about the Town’s hip hop called The Otherside.

With rappers becoming everything from mixers to audio engineers to lyrical geniuses, there is a movement taking place in Seattle.

This blog post is dedicated to not only the current Seattle which is rising up in the horizon of the national spot light, it is also dedicated to the Seattle that came before it. To all the great ball players that came from Beach, Franklin, and Garfield. It is dedicated from the flying fish of Pike Place Market to the Pho stops by the Viet Wah. It is dedicated to the Fremont Troll and the giant white bridge on the way to Ballard that goes over the industrial tracks. It is dedicated to the Dicks on Broadway and to Martha Washington Park.

And finally this post is dedicated to any and all cities that are rising up . I must say I am fortunate to live in another city that is on its way up, Boston, which has never had a hip hop scene till now (check out the #12fo12 movement). Thanks to some innovative work by a few guys who run The Collab Projekt and The Fresh Heir. The city is coming up strong and I am proud to be a part of that, even if it is a spectator.

There is nothing more inspiring than to see a city identify a new culture, a new movement and to develop an identity before your eyes. To be a part of that is something special. And now, the music (click the picture for the music)

– We have a bit of rap history with Sir Mix-A-Lot  Sir Mix A Lot





– Rapper Raz Simone (click the picture for his mix tape) loves jazz instrumental samples and some dark raps. A coming up hometown hero and one of my personal favorites.




Sam Lachow

– Sam Lachow who often partners with Raz (above) but also puts out some solo features. Click the picture for his recent solo song Banana Goo Pie. He has got a the most soothing deep voice and the flow of an experienced rapper.



AV Young Blaze

– Avatar Darko is a hard-core Russian who raps with a style like “a white Game”… thoughts on that? Click his picture for a great video for “Feeding My Flame” featuring talk about Kurt Cobain.




Blue Scholars

– Blue Scholars are picture on the left with NBA and Sonics legend Slick Watts. These guys were the first Seattle Hip Hop I got into and to be honest, all of their stuff is good. I have included one of their most recent pieces if you click the picture called “Decisive Moment.” I met these guys when they came to Boston University because I was wearing a 206 sweatshirt.



– Kublakai in his video is pictured on the left but you can click his picture and get his EP with some notable songs like “Timeless” and “Phoenix” featuring Gift Uh Gab (see below)



Dyme Def

– Dyme Def is a rap collective with some fantastic rhymes and style. Clicking the picture will take you to the song “Let It Be” by Fearce of Dym Def. In addition, he is part of BeanOne and Fearce (#YuckTheWorld) (See below again)



Fearce and BeanOne– Fearce and BeanOne is a collective based off the Dyme Def group. They run 35th North Skate Shop and make some incredible music. If you click the picture you will be going to a serious but moving song called “Bully.”





Billy The Fridge

– Bill The Fridge is a Seattle rapper with a sense of humor and clever rhymes. If you have not been acquainted with him, get acquainted. Clicking his picture will take you to his video for “I’m Just A Bill.”





Macklemore and Ryan Lewis 2

– Macklemore and Ryan Lewis put Seattle on the map. There is so much to say about these two but suffice to say we owe them a great deal of gratitude. Great music, great style, true Seattleites. Clicking the picture will take you to their video for “The Town.”



Gift Uh Gab

– Gift Uh Gab is a great wordsmith from Seattle showing that our women from the rainy city can rhyme . Clicking the picture will take you to her song “My Life”




Blue Sky Black Death and Nacho Picasso

– Nacho Picaso/ Blue Sky Black Death is a partnership in the Town who have created some heavy dark music that has become a real part of the scene. Picasso’s tattooed body and their heavy beats blend well with his distinct style of rap. Click the picture and hear “Numbnuts.”




J Pinder

– J.Pinder is a staple in the Town rap scene. He has put in his work and is beginning to reap the rewards and respect. He has got a great flow and works with his beats meticulously. Click the picture and hear “Never No.”





– Grynch is a Seattle rap veteran with songs like “My Volvo” (click the picture) that make sure everyone is having a good time. He hails from Ballard and represents Seattle with pride. He is coming up fast and I wont be shocked if he is the next national headliner from Seattle.



Peta Tosh

– Peta Tosh is a little known rapper with quality music and great beats. He is getting his name out there and has got a lot of skill to come. Click his picture to see “Alright.”




Jake One

– Jake One is a legendary producer from Seattle who has done work on tons of different tracks. He has inspired a whole new generation of audio engineers. Click the picture to hear his track, and one of my favorite Seattle songs “Home.”





Nissim Black

– Nissim Black (Formerly D Black) was a pioneer in the Seattle hip hop scene. He has recently converted to Judaism (welcome brother) and is producing all over the place. Click the picture to go to his YouTube page.


The Physics

– The Physics are a true Seattle rap group with roots across the city and are true Seattle hip hop artists. They are some of the most respected artists in Seattle and have got a lot of experience in the field and the city. Click the picture to listen to “Seward Park.”




Fleeta Partee

– Fleeta Partee is an old school Seattle rapper who makes fantastic music. He is a committed Town artist helping to put Seattle on the map. Click his picture and see his video for “Inception.”





– Sol is a true Seattle rapper currently traveling the world. I met him in Boston when he opened for the Blue Scholars and he was as chill as can be. Went to University of Washington and makes incredibly insightful and thoughtful music. Click his picture and check out his album Yours Truly.




Aaron Cohen

– Aaron Cohen is a rapper currently living in Brooklyn but hails from my neighborhood in Seattle. He is a rapper blazing his own trail and could very easily blow up to be the next big thing. He has got a distinct style in clothing, beard, and music that is unique beyond the comfort zone. Click his picture to check out his latest tape MURK.






– AyeLogices is a rapper who is able to represent Las Vegas and Seattle simultaneously. He has got style for days and rhymes for more. Click the picture to watch his video for “Serious Remix.”




Art Vanderlay

– Art Vanderlay is a Seattle rapper who is our own version of Atmosphere. He is an artist who is dark and mysterious but has flow for days and his beats are fantastic. He works with a lot of Town rappers and is someone who really owns his own style. Click his picture to get to his new free EP “Eye 8 The Crow”



Q Dot

– Q Dot is a Seattle native and Grammy nominated producer who has really trying to bring some of the national spot light to Seattle. He is an incredible producer who has got pride in his work and pride in his home. Click his picture to see the video “24 Hours.”






– Scribes is a rapper from Seattle who has got an incredible flow and lyrics. His beats are fun with a serious touch. If you click the picture you can listen to “Lift Your Light,” my favorite Scribes song.





Common Market

– Common Market is some old school hip hop with Sabzi (the producer of the Blue Scholars) designing the beats. The group is social rap group and well spoken, like a true Seattleites. Click the picture to listen to “Tobacco Road.”



Vitamen D

– Last but most certainly not least, Vitamin D is described as the “backbone” of Seattle hip hop. He is one of the guys raised in the Town when it was first coming up underground and now that Seattle is on a national stage, it is time for him to produce on the big stage. Click his picture to hear one of his beats…and him rant and rave.





I will be posting on more hip hop (though it may be a few weeks) but if you are hungry for more right now check out, the best Seattle hip hop blog in my opinion. My next music posts will be about what was described to me by a good friend and musician as “under-underground” hip hop after a post about how rap music can be used in education. However for now,  prepare for The Town The Movement.

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