The homies Doc and Armond do one of the best hip-hop podcasts around with their Clock Radio Speakers show and I was honored to be a guest on a recent episode of theirs. Toss this on and listen to us nerd out about all sorts of topics, including rap’s fascination with radio play and how radio really works, Wale’s issues with Complex, “event” releases in 2013 from artists like Jay-Z and Beyonce, my #InboxMadness Twitter series, industry tastemakers, and a whole bunch more. Just a fun discussion with some folks that truly love music. Good times.
Ah yes, the list that generated enough tweets in the Seattle hip-hop community to trend the other day has reached its conclusion with the release of the #1 video above. For those unaware, D-Money of Juice Radio put together this project inspired by the MTV “Hottest MC” debate where he asked several media figures in the Seattle/Tacoma area to submit lists of their top 15 “freshest MC’s.” The panel was comprised of myself, Casey Carter, Sara from Fresh N Def, Sermon from Sermon’s Domain, DJ SupaSam, DJ Swervewon, Josh Rizeberg, and DJ Iceman. A final slot was reserved for fan votes collected on Juice Radio’s website and you can view the entire list and the accompanying videos here.
We were told to construct the list using specific criteria focusing on solo MC’s (not groups or singers) and their accomplishments within the past year. The various categories we were instructed to key on ranged from sales/downloads to radio play, from concert draws to media recognition, and every variable you can think of in between. In the end, even with the criteria, the idea was to make picks based on who we felt were the overall “freshest” in the NW, which is obviously subjective to each individual. Not surprisingly, we had fairly different lists, and also not surprisingly, it was revealed during the course of our discussion that some of the panel did not follow the criteria or fully understand it. What’s a hip-hop list without some controversy from the very start (and the inability to do the most basic tasks correctly)?
The format allowed for the panel to bump up artists if we were convinced during our discussion that they had been voted to an incorrect slot. Personally, I would have preferred the panel to simply fill out their lists accurately from the jump and then we could stick with where someone was voted. If you’re deemed knowledgeable enough to be on the panel, you should be able to construct a good list and defend your picks without getting swayed during the discussion to vote someone up or down. That said, when Macklemore was revealed as #3 on the list, I was happy we’d have a chance to vote him to his correct position at #1 because it’s clear that with the criteria we were told to use, nobody has excelled more than him in the past year. It’s not even debatable in my opinion.
I was disappointed that the list didn’t unanimously have him at #1 to begin with, but I can’t speak for the selections of any other panel member. All I know is that only 6 of the 15 artists I selected made the final list (though they only revealed the top 10, so I suppose 5 were never going to make it). Of those, I think the most startling omissions were Geologic (aka Prometheus Brown) and Ish (aka Palaceer Lazaro of Shabazz Palaces). To conclude a “Freshest In The NW” list without two of our most successful and influential artists, who continue to release great music to widespread critical and consumer acclaim, seems like a travesty.
Regardless, it seems the list accomplished what it set out to do, which was to generate conversation about all the talent we have in the Northwest. Were there things I would do differently if this were my project? Absolutely, starting with the fact that I would never do it to begin with. However, this is Juice Radio’s creation and I enjoyed giving my two cents in the discussion.
That said, I’m troubled by the reactions of many people, mainly because they seem to be attacking the idea that this is some sort of definitive list. Of course it’s NOT a definitive list! I thought that would have been common sense, but yet again, for the 24823948239423424th time in my life, I’ve overestimated the intelligence and comprehension levels of the general public (though if I continue to do that, it’s really more my fault than theirs). Individual lists are fine, but it’s the idea that combining a group of lists, from anyone, somehow transforms these individual opinions to fact that is completely absurd. I assumed everyone would understand that, but I was wrong.
I hope you enjoyed the debate and the videos, but I’d advise you do yourself a favor and don’t take it too seriously. Then again, that’s also just my opinion…
To all my Seattle/Tacoma folks, I highly recommend you check out this year’s Hip-Hop Summit at Highline Community College today and tomorrow. It’s going to be full of great conversations and great performances, including a panel appearance by yours truly later today at noon in the student union. For the performance, you get to peep some of the best talent here in the northwest (Parker Brothaz, Common Market, Gabriel Teodros, and more) for only a few bucks. Here are all the details:
Thursday, February 26th
The History & Evolution of Hip-Hop
with King Khazm(founder of Zulu Nation-Seattle Chapter, Hip Hop emcee & activist)
9-9:50am, Student Union-Mt. Constance Room
Hip Hop Politics
with Dr. Tricia Rose of Brown University
10-11:30am, Student Union-Mt. Constance Room
Panel Discussion: Misconceptions of Hip-Hop
with DJ Hyphen, Kitty Wu, King Khazm, and more
12-1:30pm, Student Union-Mt. Constance Room
Friday, February 27th
Evolution of Art Club
10am, Mt. Constance Room
Poetry Lounge and Open Mic
11am, Mt. Constance Room
Doors Open at 6pm
Highline Student Union, Mt. Townsend Room Stage
2 v. 2 Break Battle
With Performances by:
So HyDef, Nam, Khingz, Gabriel Teodros, The Parker Brothers and Common Market
Highline Students $5, General Admission $10
For more information contact: Tony Innouvong at firstname.lastname@example.org, (206)878-3710 x3904
Come through: 2400 S. 240th St., Des Moines, WA 98198