All is right in the world for Seattle hip-hop. Blue Scholars, arguably the city's most consistently
well-known rap duo, have already sold out Friday and Saturday nights at the Showbox and recently added a Sunday night performance too. A couple of years ago, Blue Scholars pulled off a five night stint, so it's good to know they're still beloved in their hometown. I can't think of any local hip-hop group that could sell out three consecutive nights at the Showbox. And let it be known that PubliCola Bike Nerd Josh Cohen is doing a contest, and he's got a pair of Blue Scholars tickets to giveaway. How cool is that?
Watching the duo of Sabzi and Geo on stage isn't the only reason that fans are going to get more than their money's worth at the Showbox. The supporting acts, whether they're local or from NY/LA, are all superb, on the rise, and should get you lucky tick holders showing up early to watch. Here's why.
Gordon Voidwell: Performing Friday
Raised as a Harlem Boys Choir soprano as a child, Voidwell, (born Will Johnson) has always known he'd have a career centered around music. He's the child of jazz musicians and was reared, sonically, somewhere at the intersection of hip-hop, new wave, glam pop and soul. You can hear traces of all those styles in the music he's creating now. As Heems of Das Racist (playing Saturday) puts it, "the music is Afro-futuristic with heavy nods to Prince, Talking Heads, and Blondie."
If he's able to pull that together on stage succinctly, it's definitely worth checking out. Voidwell also has a uniquely talented band of new-age young jazz lions playing behind him including Guillermo Brown, Tecla, and Kassa who is from Seattle.
Das Racist: Performing Saturday
Das Racist (comprised of Ashok Kondabolu, Himanshu Suri, and Victor Vazquez) has been on a tear for the last 12 months getting enthusiastic, and at times, controversial write-ups in the New York Times, Village Voice, and gaining the favor of music critic Sasha Frere-Jones for their ability to make "joke rap" legit.
On one level, Das Racist are specialists at creating cultural satire set to a beat—their "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell" already proved that—but on the other hand, they're just three brown kids who are moving hip-hop in a more comedic direction. And they're smart enough to pull it off. Also, it should be stated that Sabzi from Blue Scholars is their official DJ. And that Kondabolu is the kid brother of part-time Seattle comedian Hari Kondabolu.
The Physics: Performing Saturday
The Physics are by far the smoothest rap group in Seattle right now. From their beats to their laid-back rhyming cadence, they make music that's perfect for summertime chilling and grilling. Physics do a good job of capturing the essence of hip-hop circa 2000, but there's more to them than that. The Physics take just as much from Donny Hathaway as they do Run D.M.C. Their song "I Just Want a Beat" was a 2009 instant classic, and if all three members are on stage rapping Saturday night, they're sure to put on one of this weekend's better performances. Lately, they've been known to rock as a duo with just Thig Natural and Justo handling live shows as Monk Wordsmith is forced to travel during the week because of his job. But given the magnitude of this show, chances are all three members will be there.
Bambu: Performing Friday
As the former standout rapper with Native Guns, Bambu is an incredibly sharp-tongued Pinoy MC from Los Angeles that should get a lot of support from Seattle's Filipino community. He's also the husband of Rocky Rivera who just dazzled audiences with her performance at the Moore Theater a week ago. What immediately stands out about Bambu is the rebelliousness of his lyrics. He's a lot like the Filipino version of Dead Prez; he's not advocating for people to put their guns down, he'd rather you pull 'em out and defend yourself when necessary. But ideology aside, he's a damned good rapper and he collaborates really well with Blue Scholars. Expect a cameo or two from Geo during Bambu's set.
DJ Soul One: Performing Sunday
Now that the War Room is out of commission, some of DJ Soul One's most loyal fans have had a hard time finding him. He held down reggae nights at War Room for about a year and you can expect that his impressive knowledge of dubplates and dancehall will be on display at the Showbox this Sunday. But Soul never locks himself into one genre—he's more of a tastemaking DJ who can jump from hip-hop to dubstep to mind-numbing pop songs and make everything blend together.
While other DJs on the three night stint like DV One and DJ Phatrick might have more clout, Soul One is the guy that can make the dance floor feel electric and comfortable when it's least expected.