By Luke Wigren
Like mushrooms that emerge from the mossy forests and fallen logs of the Pacific Northwest, when you finally discover Porter Ray’s album Watercolor it may feel as if it has come out of nowhere. Upon closer inspection it might sound, as well, positively extraterrestrial: a psychedelic, brooding exploration into the inner-space of the subconscious.
Porter Ray chuckles when I describe his presence in the Seattle hip-hop scene as “enigmatic.” He’s grown up here his whole life. He answers every question without a hint of irony. He’s no hermit. On the contrary, he’s an open book — a hard feat in the heyday of Macklemore quirkiness, Southern rap absurdity and Drake’s practiced emotional detachment. Porter ventures into similar territory as his peers but comes up with something altogether different. His stakes feel higher. His braggadocio more vulnerable.
In the velvety, often sensual delirium of Watercolor, fantasy and reality blur together. Hypnotic, dense lyrics decompose the world into base elements of glitz and gloom. He ponders consumer excess against the sweet come-up of simply being able to walk the misty streets of his neighborhood, the Central District. It is wisdom for a 28-year old that seems almost rare. It is also hard-won due in part to the traumas Porter endured as a young man caught between worlds of privilege and poverty, black and white, and life and death.
Continue reading “Interview with the Rapper: Porter Ray”
Intro by Luke Wigren & Chul Gugich | Interview by Luke Wigren
Tay Sean is a rapper-slash-producer from Seattle, whose debut solo album, Leavings, works on the fringes of hip-hop. Manipulated found sounds, exploratory inward-facing raps and drums as hard as compressed carbon, are bound with unpredictable futurism and modern turnt sensibilities.
To label Tay’s practice as “fringed” or “outside of center” is to also recognize the current state of his home city’s hip-hop scene. Due primarily to economic and cultural displacement, the city is experiencing the suburbanization of both its hip-hop style and creators. The cold efficiency of an increasingly technocratic city has led to the standard charge of gentrification on view in most of America’s major urban centers.
In January 2016, Seattle’s venerable (and lone) “urban” radio station, KUBE 93, moved south to Tacoma, to lesser wattage and a smaller — and decidedly darker-complexioned — audience. The whooshing sound that echoed through Seattle’s downtown core in the wake of KUBE’s departure, was a new, more pop-oriented cast of local artists rushing in to fill the vacuum. Unsurprisingly, the demographics of fans who turn out to those artists’ shows has also shifted to a younger — and decidedly lighter-complexioned — audience.
Continue reading “Interview with the Rapper: Tay Sean”
A few nights after the presidential election I had a dream where I was standing in the shower and water began collecting around my ankles. When I reached my hand down to the drain to see what was blocking it, I found that chunks of shit — large, small and medium sized — had started oozing up from the plumbing. Sometimes, after I have bizarre or confusing dreams, I like to Google their supposed meanings. With this one, I was pretty sure I knew.
Continue reading “Finding Renewal in a Shower of Shit”
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