When it comes to music, Seattle is best known for its rock exports. But this weekend’s Go! Machine shows at The Crocodile could be the tipping point that reshapes the city’s musical landscape. The two-night affair, which begins tonight and continues Saturday, features just about every local hip-hopper who made a splash in 2009 and it and has the potential to ignite an already explosive hip-hop scene filled with diverse styles, talents, and sounds.
That’s right, in case you haven’t been paying attention, Seattle has a hip-hop scene and it had a breakthrough year. In fact, hip hop took the spotlight away from the boring bearded folk that reigned supreme before it and shifted the musical focus to party-popping beats and high-energy rhymes performed with passion and flair. If you’ve seen a set by any of the current wave of Seattle hip-hop acts that are a part of Go! Machine you know that it’s that very same passion, flair and showmanship that sells the music.
At the center of this mini-festival is the Out For Stardom gang. Between its viral marketing of Go! Machine, landing spots at local festivals and participating in events like last summer’s Beard Off, Out For Stardom has made itself known while doing something the bearded rockers before them didn’t seem to do at the pinnacle of their popularity: They are having fun. The groups Fresh Espresso and Mad Rad are the parties responsible for Out For Stardom (both are performing Go! Machine sets) and each quickly evolved from rising star status to unavoidable epicenter of the scene this year.
Packing a cache full of party raps, Mad Rad could be considered Seattle’s equivalent to the bratty version of the Beastie Boys. How bratty are they? The group got banned from several Capitol Hill clubs in January after allegedly getting into a tussle with a bouncer. (The group was later found not guilty of assault charges filed against them stemming from the incident and the ban has been lifted). The brief ban from The Hill didn’t stop Mad Rad from making a name for itself as the foursome delivered one of the most memorable Sasquatch! performances ever this year and landed itself on the cover of The Seattle Weekly, which is a tough thing for a musical act to do nowadays. The group’s set Saturday closes down Go! Machine so look forward to plenty of musical debauchery.
Equally as popular and on the other end of the rhyming spectrum is Fresh Espresso. While Mad Rad have the bad-boy image, Fresh Espresso is the exact opposite. Rik Rude and P Smoov (who is also a member of Mad Rad) come across as sophisticated players sharing tales of their glamorous lifestyles. That approach, combined with some very slick production, earned Fresh Espresso heavy airplay on KEXP and lots of critical acclaim. You can expect the group to grace many local critics’ "best-of" lists in the coming weeks (including yours truly).
But Fresh Espresso and Mad Rad aren’t the only reasons to hit up Go! Machine. With a lineup that includes 14 performers total and several surprises in the form of collaborations and potential unannounced guests, Go! Machine is a massive celebration of hip hop’s mammoth 12 months in the 206. To help prep for the party that will be Go! Machine, here is a quick look at some of the other performers slated to take the stage this weekend.
They Live! (Saturday): Very few live hip-hop acts, local or national, can match the energy of a They Live! Performance. After their Capitol Hill Block Party set earlier this year I wrote, “Be warned Seattle, your next rap superstars are here and they are They Live!” The duo of Gatsby (who is also a member of Cancer Rising) and Bruce Illest demand your attention while they prowl the stage, rapping, breakdancing and hyping the crowd while spitting rhymes about meth heads, killer weed and robotic aliens.
Grynch (tonight): This Ballard MC stepped up his rap game this year with the release of his Chemistry EP, on which he stopped rapping about rapping and began writing rhymes about his relatable life experiences. He had a small hit on his hands this summer with “My Volvo” and its home run of a hook which is now a classic in the lexicon of local hip hop.
VS. (Saturday): VS. is the duo of rapper Macklemore and producer Ryan Lewis. Macklemore has been a local critical darling since he dropped his debut “The Language of My World” in 2005. Lewis uses samples from rock groups like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beirut, The Bravery, and others to bring new life to Macklemore’s poignant and intelligent rhymes which helped make VS. one of the better hip-hop efforts this year.
The Physics (tonight): Laid-back vibes dominate High Society, The Physics’ latest EP which was released for free earlier this year. The three MCs make music that’s as perfect for lounging on a lazy Sunday as it is blasting at a summer barbecue.
Champagne Champagne (tonight): Headlining tonight’s Go! Machine is the combo of Pearl Dragon and Thomas Gray. The duo will definitely keep the smooth feel of the party flowing with tracks like “Molly Ringwald” and “Soda Poprocks.”
Here are the full Go! Machine lineups:
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