For the love of hip-hop
Highlighting the diversity of the current hip-hop scene in Seattle.
STORY AND PHOTOS BY SARAH CLIMACO
The “Seattle sound” has been something we all have been wanting to define. Seattle music can’t be defined by a box with specific sound. The place is rich in inspirations, and is a hub for all types of artists.
There is a unifying mentality that comes from this area that is spread throughout the local hip hop scene.
This place is like a mini-melting pot for all types of hip hop.
I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with seven different hip hop artists from Seattle, who currently live in Seattle, and talked about Seattle music with them. They all have backgrounds and experience levels that range from just starting up a few years ago, to others who have been in the local scene for a while.
This soul-filled duo, Black Stax, is made up of MC Jace ECAj and vocalist Felicia Loud. These Seattle natives use their music to reflect on controversial and relevant issues. Their music blends hip hop, soul, blues and beats that immediately makes you bob your head. Felicia Loud’s vocals have a distinct rhythmic sound that sets her apart, while MC Jace is dedicated to providing purposeful lyrics that roll with the beat. Together they form an untouchable duo that demonstrates a strong dedication to the Seattle hip hop scene.
“I think of Seattle as a unique, because it’s like a workshop here. We were able to all work here as intellectuals. And because of that you had to be thoughtful with what you created. Your stories had to make sense and your raps had to be tight.” “Rap is something you do. Hip hop is something you live. So peace to Phife Dawg, and brotha we still rappin’ and we ain’t stoppin’.”
He writes, raps, sings and produces his own material. With smooth beats and euphonic lyrics, his material keeps you coming back for more. He attributes his inspiration to all kinds of music, but right now you can catch him soaking up 90s hip hop and rap. His tenacious attitude towards the rapidly changing music scene is what makes him on the rise for this area.
“The Seattle community had changed so much since I’ve grown up in it. It’s so chill and low key here though. That’s my sound. It’s the most beautiful city in the world, because it’s not too much of anything. I think that we’re all artists in it, creating and doing our own thing. And I fuck with that. This new stuff that is coming out is all over the place. It’s still hip hop. But there are so many hybrids of everything now, and I fuck with that.”
As an experienced yet lyricist, Huey P is a jack-of- all-trades when it comes to his music. His lyrics are raw, real and hit hard. He comes from the Seattle and Tacoma area, and knows that there are specific sounds and differences that come from these two areas. He is a hip hop artist that uses his music as a storytelling tool to share his experiences of successes, struggles and pains.
“Here, we’re different than west coast. We’re different than California. We’re just different here because we have so many rich cultures, and in a sense we cater to each other’s cultures within this region and city.”
Her sound ranges far beyond hip hop and onto the cosmic. Her voice is full of vitality, the tracks get you lost in a psychedelic-soulful trance. She is true to herself by embracing her inner-nerd that she once hid, through the music she writes and produces. Her drive to continue to define herself through her music is what makes her stand out from the rest.
“I’m really inspired by the cosmic sounds of Seattle artists, and the jazziness. There is just a really rich musical history here in Seattle. It’s so thick with soulful-jazzy music and hip hop inspirations here. There are just soulful sounds that come from here, like Digable Planets. Seattle is just a highly cosmic psychedelic city, especially in terms of the natural environment.”
With influences from living in Seattle to growing up in Zimbabwe, Draze creates music discusses deep topics. One of the main topics that he highlights addresses gentrification within Seattle through his experience. His lines are complex and clever. His tracks are filled with soulful sounds r&n flavor. As a dedicated lyricist, he uses his music to discuss tense societal issues. Draze is an honest and admirable artist that keeps you hanging on every word.
“I’m about life experiences, and at the of the day I think it should be normal to talk about the south end of Seattle, the central area, Capital Hill, and all the things that impact us in our daily life. So living here is a huge impact to my music. Culturally it’s everything. Being from Seattle, I think the culture influences the lyrics rather than the sound.”
ISHMAEL “ISH” / “BUTTERFLY” BUTLER OF DIGABLE PLANETS
He is one of the original members of Digable Planets, an alternative hip hop group that was based out of New York in the 90s. The trio is still known for their funky beats and smooth lyrics. The groups break up has come to an end, and they are now working on reunion tour for the summer of 21016. Ish is originally from Seattle, and is currently living in the area. He has been admired for his lyricism within Digable Planets, as well as with his collaboration with Shabazz Palaces.
“Seattle was a rich place to grow up in. The air, the water the land. That shapes the mentality and the behavior and the characteristics of the people that live in the area. I grew up in the Central District in Seattle in the early 70s. It was a close knit community, with alot of kids in the neighborhood and alot of outside influences. There was a real sense of community, but it also allowed me to interact with different people people from different backgrounds and different mind states. It made me have a curious view of the words. Being in Seattle, a lot of stuff came through here. It was a good place to be artistically curious, to grow up in.”