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Hip Hop: The New Seattle Sound
Listen Thursdays at 3pm or Saturdays at 4pm on KEXP or click above to hear: KEXP Documentaries presents a new series – “Hip-Hop – The New Seattle Sound”
In the 1970’s when hip-hop was created in the Bronx, the sounds reached Seattle’s youth culture and inspired a new kind of dance party. Groups like The Emerald City Boys and Sir Mix-A-Lot came up in the 80’s and 90s, along with a hip-hop radio show hosted by Nasty Nes. This music sparked interest but the culture never fully came into its own.
Well, the time is now. KEXP Documentaries introduces you to a whole new generation of hip-hop artists making history in the Emerald City. Nationally-recognized acts Blue Scholars, Dyme Def, Ra Scion and TheeSatisfaction bring in their finest tracks and talk about how songs create culture. Local heroes Macklemore, D. Black, Fresh Espresso and Shabazz Palaces share the secrets and struggles of keeping their rhymes real and relevant. And the producers who are at the center of the scene, Jake One and Vitamin D take us to the place where it all comes together, musically and in the community.
NEW! Check out KEXP Documentaries Lesson Plans using episodes from this series.


# 10 Macklemore

Macklemore's music, philosophy and honest self-reflection inspires all of us to dig deeper, to question ourselves and also to be proud of the gifts we're given. His latest release with Ryan Lewis--the 2010 "Vs. EP"--contains some of the deepest lyrics ever recorded. I'd go so far as to say it's kind of the Pink Floyd of hip-hop. Macklemore's work on the release is edgy, existential and classic, all at once.

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Macklemore

# 9 Shabazz Palaces

Ishmael Butler is best known for his work with the Grammy-winning hip-hop group Digable Planets. These days he's heading up a new project--Shabazz Palaces. Ish doesn't like to give interviews. It was a huge challenge just to track him down. And then it took a few phone conversations before he agreed to this interview. In this episode, Ish talks about growing up as an artist working with Digable, his unique definition of success, and why Shabazz Palaces' music is shrouded in mystery.

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Photo for KEXP by Brittney Bush Bollay

# 8 Dyme Def

Seattle hip-hop trio Dyme Def's three MCs: Brainstorm, S.E.V. and Fierce Villain consider each other family, and the mutual respect they have for each other comes across onstage as they share the mic with a fever. In this exclusive KEXP interview, all 3 MCs talk about the songs they feel express them the most. These stories show the personal nature of these men as poets, and the depth of their work as a whole.

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Dyme Def (Photo by Derrick Santini)

# 7 Thee Satisfaction

Thee Satisfaction are the only female group on our current series "Hip-Hop - The New Seattle Sound". Not only do they create otherworldly, intelligent, danceable hip-hop. But they also come to the table with a plate full of honesty and strong opinions on what they believe. And they aren't afraid to serve it. The duo bring up subject material usually ignored by the hip-hop community. Hip-hop expert Larry Mizell, Jr said "They talk about things other people are afraid to. And that makes them more gangster than people talking about shooting people."

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Thee Satisfaction (Photo by Luna C)

# 6 Ra Scion

Ra Scion is the rapper for Seattle hip-hop bands Common Market and Victor Shade. Since his self-released 2003 solo debut, he's worked with Sabzi (the producer from Blue Scholars) on the project Common Market and recently dropped a new release with producer MTK under the name Victor Shade. In this surprisingly personal interview, Ra talks about how Victor Shade was a name given to him by his (recently passed) brother-in-law who was into comics. How he was thrown out of high school in his native state of Kentucky for questioning authority through rap, and about his own struggles adjusting to the tension between his rap persona and being a family man with a day job.

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Ra Scion (Photo by Tone)

# 5 Fresh Espresso

The four classic elements of hip-hop are: graffiti, dancing, beats and rhymes. But these days, in Seattle, Washington, the culture has expanded into visual arts like fashion design, photography and multi-media. The duo Fresh Espresso, made up of Rik Rude and P Smoov, consider themselves to be part of a collective of artists. In this interview P Smoov talks about getting his start making beats, how he wrote one of his most popular songs while homeless and living in an abandoned building and also gives advice to artists who just starting out.

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Fresh Espresso

# 4 Jake One

Seattle Producer Jake One has made beats for De La Soul, Dr. Dre and Brother Ali. He's also worked with locals Brother Ali, Vitamin D and many more. In this story he tells about when he learned that great hip-hop was made from older, obscure records, and that hip-hop is the one style of music that's made up of all other genres. He also talks about the art of digging.

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Jake One

# 3 Vitamin D

When KEXP Documentaries interviewed 10 acts for this series, every single band pointed back to Vitamin D as the originator of the town's current sound. Vitamin D's band from the 90’s The Ghetto Children and his Tribal Music label were a huge influence on acts like Blue Scholars, Jake One, D. Black and more. Vita's studio, The Pharmacy has had an open-door policy, welcoming anyone from the community who was willing to put in the work. In addition to his talents as a DJ, producer, composer and engineer, Vitamin D also mentors youth in the community, giving kids from hard neighborhoods a chance to make music.

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Vitamin D

# 2 D. Black

D. Black is a direct descendant of Seattle’s hip-hop history. His father was in our town’s first hip-hop band The Emerald Street Boys, and his mom in the first local girl rap act, The Emerald Street Girls. D.Black released his debut, Cause and Effect, when he was 19. After that record, he says he “died, spiritually and symbolically” and became a different person. On his 2009 release Aliyah he changed his subject matter to a community-based, spiritual message.

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D. Black - Aliyah

# 1 Blue Scholars

The duo Blue Scholars is made up of MC Geologic and DJ/Multi-instrumentalist Sabzi. They talk about how their music is based on storytelling, what the “Seattle Sound” is for hip-hop and also give props to the artists who laid the foundation for today’s new hip-hop scene. This feature includes our intro to the Seattle hip-hop series, a rundown of Sea-town’s hip-hop history and today’s newcomers, told by the “Mayor of Seattle Hip-Hop,” Jonathan Moore.

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Blue Scholars


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