At the top of the West, hip-hop is thriving. From the righteous rhyme of Blue Scholars and Ohmega Watts to the infectious party-rap of The Saturday Knights, here's a taste of the region's best hip-hop.
1. Blue Scholars
The Seattle hip-hop duo follows its excellent self-titled debut and the equally strong Long March EP with a stunning album that sets the bar ever higher for Northwest hip-hop. Sabzi's production is still warm and soulful, but it's more confident, varied and distinctive. Geologic continues to grow as a rapper, combining his smooth, laid-back flow with smart, plain-spoken rhymes rooted in being a self-professed ordinary guy. His blue-collar perspective shines a bright spotlight on race and class issues, while also providing stirring inspiration for the city and country to do better.
2. Ohmega Watts
This Portland rapper/producer's second solo album is another expansive set of underground hip-hop, combining an eclectic sound and a variety of styles with socially conscious lyrics.
Watts Happening (Ubiquity)
The third solo album from this Seattle born-and-raised member of Portland hip-hop crew Lightheaded is a first-rate, flag-free set of upbeat underground hip-hop with plenty of old-school flavor.
Alive at the Assembly Line (Hip Hop Is Music)
Part of the Northwest hip-hop collective oldominion, the Seattle duo of Onry Ozzborn and JFK brilliantly reconstruct a variety of hip-hop styles on Bloody Radio. While the sinister vibe of the group's debut can still be found here, it's filtered through everything from crunk and double-time to underground emo, bringing a wider stylistic range for the duo's smart and imaginative lyrics.
Bloody Radio (Rhymesayers)
5. The Saturday Knights
This Seattle group makes its debut with a fun four-song EP of irresistible, party-rocking hip-hop with live instrumentation, including some crunchy rock guitar riffs.
The Saturday Nights (Light in the Attic)
Kevin Cole hosts The Afternoon Show on KEXP 90.3 FM Seattle & KEXP.org. Discover music through a diverse mix of new releases, "sneak-peaks" at forthcoming releases, seminal vintage tracks, rarities, B-sides, and exclusive in-studio performances.
Seattle-based KEXP presents a diverse mix of music, live performances and podcasts from indie-rock, punk and hip-hop to old-school soul and world music.