Saturday, June 26, 2010

PDX Hip-Hop Scene Report Summer 2010 Volume 3

Hives Inquiry Sqaud
photo: Hives Inquiry Squad

"The holy troika goes as follows: you get down with a jam, you get infused with the holy spirit (Tiny Tim said that we are obliged to find out as much as possible about that which we love), and you decide that instead of being one of those creepy cultural keepers-of-the-flame, to become a raging enthusiastic pop-culture pyromaniac, attempting to set as many minds ablaze with your accumulated gnosis.

Share and spread enthusiasm; don’t player-hate, don’t snark—negative reviews are easy, and blasts of pure unfiltered happy-making are hard. Don’t succumb to the dark side. Stay away from snark. Don’t post shit-talk on forums.

All aspects of your life will be informed and infused with this. Your love life will improve, you’ll make more bucks, you’ll be a happier person and babies and babes and geriatrics will smile at you."

I've been slowly wading through and digesting the advice from writers who write about music for a living at the excellent "What's The Write Word?" feature at PopMatters. Which is where I found the Johan Kugelberg quote above. No matter your profession or hobby, it's a given that seeking advice and wisdom of those that came before you is pretty win-win. Ideally you end up with some good pointers. Or you may see a quote like the one above and say, "Fuck you old man. I'll player-hate whoever I want to." And that may inspire you to write a diatribe against your least-favorite band.

Both positions are equally valid, and there's a lot of gray area in between. Despite my undying love of hip-hop, one of my biggest pet-peeves is the term "hater" or "playa hater". I'm not really sure who coined the term or how it originated, but I am sure that it has blossomed and proliferated exponentially far beyond its initial meaning. From my understanding, it originally referred to a talentless individual, someone so jealous and bitter of someone else's success and high level of artistry that their only recourse was to dis the talented individual as a way to boost their own self-esteem. Which is fair enough, but in this day and age so many thoroughly wack artists hide behind the umbrella term as a way to dismiss criticism of any kind. "Yo, can you believe dude wasn't feeling my mixtape EP I put out freestyling off the top of my dome in my Grandma's basement? Just because I was rhyming over Dilla beats with my boy on GarageBand when we were wasted, homie had the nerve to say he wasn't feeling it?! So what if the washing machine/dryer noise in the background was so loud it made the vocals almost unintelligible. Dude is just a hater."

So there is, and always will be, a time and a place for criticism. If it's wack it's wack. Point blank. That said, I personally feel that my time and energy are best spent heralding talented artists whose music excites and inspires me. Case in point, local group Hives Inquiry Squad.

Hives Inquiry Squad is a local Portland duo, recently transplanted from Wisconsin, consisting of emcees Gavin Theory and Lucas Dix. I'm not exactly sure how they came across my radar, but I'm so damn glad they did. Gavin Theory also deftly handles production duties, creating kaleidoscopic soundscapes that combine snap your neck head-nod beats with bubbling sonic sparks and stabs of shivering psychedelic vibrations. So yes, the beats are amazing, but the absolute highlight of their music is the off the charts high quality of the lyricism. Every time I try to explain what I mean by that to people, I get into dancing about architecture territory, so all I can say is you've got to check it out yourself to see what I mean. Last I heard they've been buckled down in the lab working hard on their newest full-length, Edifice. Not sure if they've set a release date yet, last I heard the plan was later this summer. Personally, I can't. fucking. wait.

PS Speaking of mind-blowing NW hip-hop, don't sleep on Shabazz Palaces. They're coming to Rotture Wednesday July 14th. Seattle writers and music heads have already brought out every hyberbole in the book in an attempt to describe their genius, and in my opinion, each and every one is well deserved. Both EPs are in constant rotation in my world. I seriously haven't been this excited about a new hip-hop group since I heard Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) 17 years ago. And that's saying a lot.


Kid Tyger said...

As someone who has a B.A. degree in Cultural Anthropology from Hamline University 2001, (Turf Club Saint Paul where you at?) I'm so so psyched I finally got some Eastern Oriental Troll action. North Pacific Ocean Stand UP!!!

Kid Tyger said...

Haha! Someone deleted the trolls. It wasn't me like Shaggy.