SOUNDS LIKE: Wandering into a house-party cipher and getting the strange feeling you’ve been kicking it with these dudes your whole life.
These days, MCs Anthony “Tope” Anderson and Jamiah “Epp” Sneed have a pretty good relationship with Portland’s indie-rock scene—better, in fact, than most other hip-hop acts in town. But there have been some bumps in the road. Like that thing at Rontoms two years ago.
“They kind of banned us,” says Tope from a table outside Peet’s Coffee & Tea on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard, as Epp giggles at the memory. In July 2012, TxE, the rappers’ trio with producer Gabe “G Force” Edelmann, was offered a spot on one of the East Burnside bar’s free, often-packed Sunday showcases—a rarity for a rap group. They even got And And And, the hottest band in the city at the time, to open. “We get to soundcheck, and the soundman’s like, ‘There’s no way you guys are headlining over And And And,’” Tope says. After successfully doing just that, Epp took a moment to gloat. “The soundman didn’t think we could headline tonight,” he told the crowd, “but I think we just showed him, obviously, we’re worthy of headlining!”
“Then G Force comes from behind the tables,” Tope says, “grabs the mic and goes, ‘Yeah! Fuck the soundman!’”
“It was some real punk-rock shit,” Epp adds. A politely worded email arrived shortly thereafter, saying the group would not be invited back.
What’s ironic is that, at the time, TxE was at work on a clever crossover bid. On TxE vs. PRTLND, Tope and Epp affixed their casual, everydude flows to beats built from the guitars, synths and delicate vocal melodies of the likes of Typhoon, Sallie Ford and Starfucker. But the album, which didn’t drop until late last year because of label issues, wasn’t intended as an olive branch to Portland’s dominant music culture. It’s the product of what Tope calls “a weird summer,” spent going to house shows, drinking “bad Champagne and PBR” and “hanging out with a lot of hipster girls.” Making a record drawn from the sounds surrounding them just made sense.
“Subconsciously, it wasn’t like, ‘We need to be part of this,’” Epp says. “We were making music, and people were liking what they heard.”
With G Force having recently decamped to L.A., and with each member’s solo ventures taking off, the future of the group is somewhat in flux. But Tope, who placed on our Best New Band list as a solo artist in 2012, says when it comes to making another TxE record, “the door is never closed.” “We all sound different on our solo stuff,” he says, “but once we come together as a group, it shines.” MATTHEW SINGER.
WHO’S GOT NEXT?
11. Sama Dams 35 pts.
12. Talkative 33.5 pts.
13. Your Rival 32.5 pts.
14. Illmaculate 32 pts.
15. Thanks 29pts.
16. Hustle & Drone 28.5 pts.
17. Hook & Anchor 27 pts.
18. IBQT 27 pts.
19. Houndstooth 26 pts.
20. A Happy Death 24.5 pts.
10 YEARS OF BEST NEW BAND: WHERE ARE THE WINNERS NOW?2004—Menomena
Founding member Ben Knopf left in 2011. Debuted its most recent album, Moms, with a laser show at OMSI.
Expanded into a four-piece and put out its last album, 2011’s Ruins, on Isaac Brock’s Glacial Pace label.
Mostly inactive since Marius Libman hung up his keytar and picked up another BNB nod with Sun Angle in 2013, but a new record is coming soon.
2007—The Shaky Hands
Disbanded in 2011, but has reunited sporadically since. Bassist Mayhaw Hoons and drummer Colin Anderson started Spookies, while Nick Delffs released an album as Death Songs before forming Tiburones with Luz Elena Mendoza of Y La Bamba.
2008—The Builders and the Butchers
Released Western Medicine, its fourth album of Southern gothic gallows folk, in 2013.
2009—Explode Into Colors
Imploded into nonexistence in 2010.
2010—Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside
Put out two albums, played Letterman, blew up in France, broke up last year. Ford immediately formed a new band with members of Albatross, Viva Voce and Point Juncture, WA.
2011—And And And
Still plays profusely and hosts its annual summer Rigsketball tournament. Drummer Bim Ditson has become the Portland music scene’s unofficial mascot.
Released its second album, Animals in the Median, last year, along with an EP of remixes by TxE’s G-Force featuring a verse from Southern strip-rap king Juicy J.
Spent this April and May playing large theaters opening for Haim. Also received shoutouts online from Maxwell and Brandy.