By Ashley Roe
This year’s Bumbershoot lineup is stacked with several high-profile Seattle rap artists who will be showcasing their work for their hometown crowd. The following profiles dive into the background of these rap artists and groups by looking into how they view the Seattle rap scene, how they define success, and more.
The Physics have already played Bumbershoot twice, in 2008 and 2010 at the EMP Sky Church. Most recently, they have been on tour across America for their latest album Tomorrow People. Thig Natural, Justo D’Amato and Monk Wordsmith have been making music together for over a decade now, ever since their days together at O’Dea High School. Their collaborative sound, which leans more towards the funk end of the spectrum, is a trademark that has set them apart in the rap scene and has lent them achieve considerable success. “We try not to force anything, and sometimes we get in the studio, and try to do things that are different. A lot of times, we don’t know how it will turn out. Sometimes it turns out whack, and we just throw the track away,” said Thig Natural. The Physics are willing to take musical risks in order to come out with a final product that sets them apart. The group contributes how their music impacts other people to be the most important aspect of making music: “It’s about these different journeys ending up in a certain place, and being able to make that music also reach other people in the journey as well.” See them Saturday, August 31st at Bumbershoot.
Nacho Picasso found his way into the mainstream spotlight in 2011 when Pitchfork dubbed his second mixtape one of the best rap debuts of the year. His latest album which came out a year ago, Exalted, was a collaboration with Seattle production duo Blue Sky Black Death, and landed on Forbes’ list of The Best Free Albums of 2012. Nacho Picasso created his sound from finding musical influence throughout many genres. “I listened to everything [growing up]. I listened to a lot of rock music too, just growing up in Seattle. How could you not hear Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and shit? I love the blues. My mom’s a rasta, so I grew up on reggae. A little bit of everything. I don’t even listen to rap too much no more,” Picasso said. Nacho Picasso prides himself on not sounding like generic hip hop, especially when teaming up with Blue Sky Black Death creating a gothic and dark rap sound that is not normally explored. He sees the Seattle rap scene as being open to new sounds and styles, making it helpful for artists who want to explore sounds that are out-of-the-box. “At this stage where hip-hop is, anyone can have a story. It’s always gonna sound different. There’s hella different styles. I don’t feel like there’s a certain style that you got to do.” Check him out Saturday, August 31st at Bumbershoot.
Grynch’s sound definitely falls under the category of feel-good. His light lyricism and upbeat backtracks put him in a category of his own, especially because other rappers have never tackled rhymes about light topics like Volvos and Mr. Rogers .Grynch was last on tour for his third full-length album, 2012’s Perspective. He doesn’t define his success by how many albums he’s sold or how many people have listened to his latest single, but by what his fans take away from the experience of listening to his music. “If I can connect with a listener or people and my music can impact their life in a positive way somehow that defines success to me. If the music can really help somewhere or do something constructive for them; I look at that like success.” This Ballard-native has had a full-scale experience of seeing the Seattle rap scene change over the years, and at this point he is impressed by how it has evolved. “I really feel like there’s just a lot of really good things going on. I’m excited to see how things progress and develop cause I can’t see things just taking a dive. I really just think that things are going to continue to grow and progress and keep on the up and up, so we’ll see cause right now things are going really good, in my opinion.” This Seattle rap staple is sure to be around for many years to come. Watch him perform Saturday, August 31st at Bumbershoot.
Sol recently returned to the United States after a ten month hiatus as part of the Bonderman Honors Travel Fellowship he received from the University of Washington. He studied the role that music plays in people’s lives around the world, and how that role differs from that in the United States. In an interview before he embarked on this journey, Sol discussed how his journey may change his music style: “Something I do know is what music means to me, and how important it is in my life, and I look forward to being able to further that relationship with music and being able to jump back into making music again, and use this experience traveling as a way to make a new type of music, maybe one that has never been made before,” Sol says. And he was right. While traveling through countries like India, Haiti and Uganda – he picked up a new island sound which resonated loudly in his newest single “Dope”. His performances, like at Sasquatch! and his going away concert before he left, are always packed full of energy and excitement. So, his first official concert back in Seattle, on Monday September 2nd, is sure to be one not to miss.
This post is the sixth in a series about rap music on Seattle’s 12th Avenue.