The Fantastic Four: Local Rappers That Won’t Stay Local Too Much Longer

 

This past Friday, four local rappers put on a rap show at the Fixin’ To. The venue describes itself as a “southern-inspired honky tonk” bar, equipped to host live shows. The space was intimate. The stage- placed in the corner- was a few feet away from the venue entrance, antlers decorated the walls above, mini light bulbs rested on top of the antlers, red drapes covered the windows, and four moderate-sized area rugs covered the stage floor.

The show was advertised as “The Fantastic Four”. The rappers: Gifted Gab, Glenn Waco, Rasheed Jamal, and Mic Capes were headlining the show. It made me think; since the show was named after The Fantastic Four, which rapper is which Fantastic Four superhero?

Gifted Gab – The Invisible Woman

Seattle native Gifted Gab’s raps aged like wine over time. She is a prime example of Sue Storm’s ability of invisibility. Gab gained attention with a song she collaborated on with California rapper, Blimes Brixton, called “Come Correct”. The success of the song has the Central District lyricist on press runs and shows in different regions of the country. What’s frustrating is that Gab has been delivering top notch wordplay and rhyme schemes for some time. “Come Correct” was just the song the rest of the world decided to listen to. She was invisible until now.

 

 

The laid back lyricist played one of her most recent songs, “PSA (Unmastered)”. The song is an ode to fake smokers, men, women, and how she will not continue to give her time to those type of energy leeches. The flow and syncopation Gab brings to her music is astounding. She weaved her punches and double entendres in and out of jazz infused production, like it’s second nature to her. With the buzz she’s receiving now, Gifted Gab won’t be Sue Storm much longer.

Glenn Waco – Mr. Fantastic

Taking the stage next, North Portland rapper Glenn Waco took a knee. He erupted in energy as the beat reached its crescendo. His music is loud and in your face. The message is even louder. His now six-foot-plus frame towered over the crowd as they swayed left to right. Glenn is lanky, like Reed Richards. He is apart of a collective with Mic Capes and Rasheed Jamal called The Resistance. The camo jacket Waco wore teased his personality. He warred with social injustice the last couple of years as an activist. The music he makes extends his reach (also like Mr. Fantastic) to a demographic that can help him spread the message of equality and shine a light on inequalities as well.

During his set, Waco stopped and told the crowd of Quanice Hayes, a 17 year old African American child executed a year ago by Portland police officer Andrew Hearst. He brought family members of Hayes to the show, informing  the crowd of their fight and how it was not over (SN:There is a GoFundMe page up for the family as they continue to pursue legal action against this atrocity).

 

 

Waco ended his set with “Assata”, a song named after former Black Liberation Army member, Assata Shakur. The most memorable moment from Waco’s set came in the form of a quote he gave the crowd:

“If you’re a human being, then you have a right to exist. We all on the same slave ship, just different decks.”

Rasheed Jamal- The Human Torch

Rasheed Jamal approached the stage like he approaches his music, composed with vigor, and stamina for days. Originally from Chattanooga Park, a small town in Arkansas, everything about Rasheed Jamal screamed southerner. The twang in his voice is distinct. You could pick it out of a lineup blindfolded. His Cash Money tour tee was engulfed in flames, like any Cash Money tour tee from the late 90’s and 00’s. He even played UGK cuts before he got on stage. On the backdoor of the venue, next to a vending machine that dispenses earplugs and cigarettes, a wooden Arkansas Razorbacks plaque hung on the door. If anything, the Portland based MC was given a sense of home as he played “Chattanooga Park.” Sheed’s rhyme scheme chops and flows with his beat selection. His raps were fast, melodic, and all consuming, similar to fire. Like Johnny Storm, Sheed torches his tracks, leaving a trail of fire behind him.

 

Sheed has built an impressive catalog so far in his career. His last projects, Sanfoka and Indigo Child ( U Ain’t the Only 1!), cemented his lyrical prowess. Over time, Sheed grew comfortable with his identity as an artist. He fought Outkast comparisons and “doing too much”, but he’s much more than those labels. Sheed is an accumulation of his southern roots and his new home in Portland (He’s been in Portland since 2008). He stayed true to what influenced him while allowing himself to develop. Sheed is a bit of a jokester as well. Also like the Human Torch, Sheed’s jovial nature leaves a lasting impression on the crowd. It won’t be long until you hear Rasheed Jamal’s name again.

Mic Capes – The Thing

The last performer of the night, Mic Capes, pulled double duty as a headliner and as a host for the show. I’ve watched Capes perform for a couple of years. Over that time, I have seen him grow with his music, as well as his performances. They have become cleaner and he knows how to interact with different crowds. I will never forget the first time I saw Capes perform. It was 2016 . He was doing a set at the Analog Theater. Capes’ sound is content-heavy and chock full of powerful stories, but the crowd he was performing for that night, did not have ears for the type of message he was trying to deliver. He didn’t get booed off stage or anything, but he didn’t receive the attention I thought he deserved. Regardless, the rapper’s skin was rock solid, much like The Thing. That night, I saw in Mic Capes what others didn’t see: Determination and hunger. Fast forward to 2018 and the same rapper I saw at the Analog, was the same rapper ready to clobber the stage at the Fixin’ To,  just more polished.

 

 

Capes has been through his fair share of adversity. His music gives you that much. He stayed consistent through time, continued to put out quality music, and the city of Portland responded in kind. Capes’ music carries a strong message for the children. The rapper worked with kids in auxiliary programs a great deal, so naturally his music has content with the youth in mind. Donning a red St. Johns basketball jersey, the stage man lowered the lights to match his attire as “Chains” played’. Capes continued to move the crowd with classics like “No More” and “I might”, a song of his most recent project, Sheesh. A Mic Capes show wouldn’t be the same if the rapper didn’t leave the crowd with at least one performance of the North Portland anthem, “Jumper Cables.”

All of the rappers that headlined the show have played important roles in each other’s music careers. Each artist had songs together on their respective projects. Their unwavering support of each other was beautiful. From Glenn Waco going live on social media during the performances of his fellow Resistance members, to folks in the crowd making sure Gifted Gab stayed hydrated during her set, the phrase “Teamwork makes the dream work” echoed the sentiments of community. These rappers made a good team. One thing is for sure,  these local rappers will not stay local rappers for long.

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Soar Losers’ Tre Redeau: The Sound PDX Hiphop Needs

tre redeau image one

Photo courtesy of Instagram via iamtreredeau

In a city filled with hipsters, bars, recycle bins and zero emission vehicles, I find myself in uncharted waters. I, Vader The Visionary, a native Mississippian am lost in downtown Portland, Oregon trying to find one of the few clubs/bars where I can hang out and listen music that resonates with my ratchet soul. Not to say that I can’t get jiggy with some alt-rock, indie, or EDM because when the mood is right, I’ll fist pump and rage with the best of the best. More times than not, I’m a creature of habit and I enjoy my comfort genre of hiphop.

Admittedly, I wasn’t too surprised when I couldn’t find a good FM radio station with the local hiphop artist being broadcasted due to the fact that I’m in the whitest city in “progressive” America. Outraged and determined, I started my search for good rap music in the City of Roses. Much to my hallelujah, I came across 24-year-old PDX native Tre Redeau.

Not only was I relieved that I found the small percentage of African-Americans in this eco-friendly city, I was also relieved to learn that there is actually quite a bevy of hiphop  talent in Portland. At first glance, Tre seemed like a regular Black Portlander: Stylish clothes with a rain jacket (it rains like crazy here in the Pacific Northwest). When I took a seat and popped my ear buds in with Redeau’s most recent project “Kool-Aid Stand”, I was immediately hit by lyrics from the first song “Rounds” where the Rose City emcee reintroduced himself. Before deciding to take his given name for his stage name, one could have found Tre under the alias of Blaze (pronounced BLAH-ZAY).

What was equally impressive about Redeau was his record label Soar Losers. The PDX super team consist of artists Myke Bogan, Manny MondayyT $poon and Vinnie Dewayne with producer Stewart Villain.  Their most notable collaborative song to date is “The Anthem” with a memorable opening line from Tre: “If the Blazers been winning, who the losers? Wait, that’s us”.

The song from the 45 minute project that started to garner Redeau some national notoriety and gave him more ears was his track “Doja“, with a feature from Funk Volume founder himself, Dizzy Wright. Tre’s style seems effortless as he weaves syncopated rhymes in and out of each other. By listening to him, it’s easy to tell that he is not only an artist, but a fan of past and current artist as well as the culture of hiphop itself.

My personal favorites from Tre’s project was “The Anthem”, “Catch Me/Hell on Earth”, and “Definition of Real”. The latter two tracks shows the lyrical depth and transparency that Redeau possesses. It’s been a year since the 503 lyricist has let go of any new tracks or anything of the like, but two weeks ago a simple Instagram post leaves us on the edge of our seats with a one word caption: “Coming.”

Stream Tre Redeau’s “Kool-Aid Stand” here and be sure to stay up to date with him on social media @IamTreRedeau and on his website TreRedeau.com.