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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Album Review: “The Sun’s Tirade”

Isaiah-Rashad-The-Suns-Tirade

Courtesy of TDE

Isaiah Rashad is finally back. Thank the hip-hop gods. The TDE member gives us his follow up to Cilvia Demo with his sophomore project The Sun’s Tirade.  Riddled with 70’s and 90’s vibes, Rashad opens up with his listeners being even more transparent about his struggles than his previous album. The 25 year old Chattanooga lyricist speaks on personal topics ranging from his late grandmother , to his 25th birthday , to long distance love and the heavy use of drugs to cope with his emptiness.

From start to finish, listeners can hear the maturity of Rashad and how he’s grown over his two year hiatus from the microphone. Standouts on the album include Park , Dressed Like Rappers , and Find a Topic (homies begged).The most impressive thing about the TDE emcee’s new album is the versatility of flow. The majority of the album can be considered vibes with a few exceptions such as A Lot , Don’t Matter, and Aa. Although most of his album is chill, the syncopation of rhymes and rhyme scheme seems to change a good bit throughout Rashad’s tracks. Whether the song is one that has more of an up tempo like “Don’t Matter” or more laid back instrumentals like “4r Da Squaw”, Zaywop’s tone is always present.

Another gem on this project is the recordings in between some of the tracks. The first recording on “where u at?” is a voicemail from TDE label mate Schoolboy Q. The other recordings come from Top Dawg producer Dave Free. He talks about how sporadic in topic Rashad seems at times, to how the rapper being born in 1991 is “creepy” due to sexual subject matter he speaks on from time to time, to Free’s dad thinking he was involved in “runnin’ in somebody’s house.”

Since Rashad is a product of Southern hip-hop, he’s not hesitant to channel Southern rappers of “old” such as Outkast, Goodie Mob, Scarface and the like. On his previous album, a good number of listeners compared his delivery and production to the OGs of the South like Webbie and Boosie in terms of the grit he had when talking about his upbringing or his hometown of Chattanooga. Rashad’s Tennessee roots are still apparent throughout “The Sun’s Tirade” especially in “Rope//rosegold”. Isaiah Rashad has this really amazing talent to where he’s like a bridge between the old school lyrical greats we admire as fans of the art of hip-hop all the while keeping his music modern with the perfect blend of production and attention to detail. It’s nice to have him back and see the progression. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

 

12 Essential Isaiah Rashad Tracks in Prelude to His New Album

isaiahrasad laundromat hero

YouTube.com

It’s been two years, seven months, and three days since TDE representative Isaiah Rashad released a new project. That’s 81, 907,200 seconds. 1,365,725 hours. 135 weeks. I think I speak for every Zaywop fan when I say we have been waiting for this album ever since the outro of “Cilvia Demo“. The Chattanooga, TN rapper has been keeping a lot of his material close to the vest with his cryptic moves, keeping his fans on the edge of their seats. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, Billy Batson drops “Free Lunch“. Zay does what he normally does on the melodic and jazzy beat selection cooked up by producer Cam O’bi with broken rhyme schemes and nostalgic southern jargon. The most exciting part of the new music video happens in the last few seconds of the song which simply reads: “09.02.16”.

With only one project published in 2009, Rashad started to garner his buzz in 2013 when TDE president, Dave Free signed him to the Top Dawg label. He didn’t release his first official project under the label until 2014 with “Cilvia Demo”. Since the album quality EP, Billy Batson has only dropped three singles within a two year time span. Thankfully, the good people over at Top Dawg Entertainment have been plotting a solid Q4 takeover, especially with all the label mates looking to drop projects one after another .

To hold you over until the real deal, I compiled a soundcloud playlist of essential Zaywop tracks that will show the evolution of the Chattanooga, TN, native whilst getting you excited for his latest hiphop offering. I hope the new project is worth the wait: 

  1. ’95
  2. Fake Trill
  3. GUSTO
  4. Hurt Cobaine
  5. RIP Kevin Miller
  6. Free Lunch
  7. Webbie Flow (U Like)
  8. Banana
  9. Soliloquy
  10. Like That
  11. Khaki
  12. Sydney Jones