Summer 2012 is shaping up to be a big season for Stumptown's hip-hop scene, and most of that momentum can be attributed to a group of young, up-and-coming MCs that are bringing some new and refreshing tricks to the local trade. Here are four of those MCs we're especially excited about.
My editor loved “Can’t Lie,” a track off St. Johns rapper Vinnie Dewayne’s newest mixtape, Castaway—and for good reason. The slow-humming burner of a track showed off Vinnie’s uncanny ability for storytelling, which is a skill not too many Portland MCs have possessed in the past. In fact, the whole Castaway tape works as a conceptual story, using characters and scenes from the Tom Hanks’ film to tell the 21-year-old MC’s journey from Portland to Chicago, where he attends Columbia College. Sounds like a bit of a stretch, right? Well, Vinnie manages to pull it off with relative ease. But his talent goes beyond his intricate stories. His ability to tackle weighty subjects like heartbreak and abandonment with a shrewdness way beyond his years gives his sound a very polished feel. This maturity probably stems from the fact that Vinnie has been releasing projects in the city since age 12. Lucky for us, each one has been better than the last, and he shows no signs of slowing down.
I was first turned on to South Dakota-transplant Myke Bogan with his song “Uncle Elroys Couch,” a fluttery piece of nostalgia that works as a nod to mid-'90s California hip-hop (he even sings the chorus of Ahmad’s “Back in the Day” at one point). I immediately fell in love with the song for its slow-paced feel and Myke’s warmhearted lyrics of loving hip-hop and drinking Pabst—it will undoubtedly be a jam I bump on the way to Sauvie Island this summer. Myke hasn’t released much material yet, but we’re excited to see if his debut mixtape, So Long South Dakota, will continue down this path of mixing cleverly fun lyrics with jazzy, sample-based beats. Who knew South Dakota was so breezy?
Over the past couple of years, Cassow (pronounced Cah-so, like Picasso) has established perhaps the biggest buzz out of any of Portland’s young MCs. He’s done this by releasing a steady stream of quality tapes that mix flossy hooks and beats with meditative lyrics—songs that cater both to the local hop heads and the 2nd Avenue club crowd, if you will. His debut album, the modestly titled Future Classic, shows off his diverse range with buttery love tunes (“Black Queen”), club thumpers (“Mind Yo Bidness”) and introspective tales of growing up in Northeast (“Dreams”). Surprisingly, despite the amount of ground he covers, the tape is one of the more cohesive projects to come out of the scene in quite some time – a sign of the 21-year-old MC’s level of talent. Future Classic has a release party scheduled for Ted's/Berbati's Pan on Friday, August 10.
Perhaps more so than any other MC in Portland right now, Los Angeles-born MC Soopah Eype truly commands tracks. His slippery growl of a voice sounds like it was molded for rapping, and his technicality on the microphone—from his breath control, to his rhyme schemes—is out-of-this-world impressive. Mix these talents with a fiery, fuck-the-man-type persona, and you can’t help but compare Eype to Stumptown great Luck-One. But Eype has a rawness to him that not many other local MCs posses. This is partly because he chooses to rap over dirty, dust-covered beats that sound like they were mixed in a clogged sink. Over his six mixtapes, the young MC, who moved to Southeast after going to school in Eugene, has continued to grow and is slowly becoming a force to reckon with.