Live hip-hop is a rare thing in Portland.
As many strides as rap has made in terms of pushing into the music scene at large, the major tastemaking venues in town—Doug Fir Lounge, Mississippi Studios, Rontoms—still aren't booking local hip-hop as often as they could or should.
There is, however, a proliferation of monthly hip-hop nights growing at smaller clubs across town that have become must-attend events for anyone hoping to sample the freshest beats and rhymes coming out of the city. With another one, Mic Check, starting at White Eagle Saloon this week, here are the regular gatherings you must put in your calendar.
When and where: Every first Thursday at Kelly's Olympian.
The gist: In a year and a half, the Thesis has established itself as the Rontoms Sunday Sessions of local hip-hop, showcasing the bleeding edge of Portland rap and routinely packing the century-old downtown bar—which isn't totally surprising, considering the involvement of the We Out Here blog, the prime resource for new bangers from the Pacific Northwest.
Next installment: July 7 with Stewart Villain, Nate G, Venture, Only One.
When and where: Every last Wednesday at the Know.
The gist: Interrupting the Know's nightly onslaught of punk and metal, Thirsty City launched two years ago under the curation of producer Northern Draw with a focus on global beat culture and the more outre ends of Portland hip-hop, such as the tripped-out stream-of-consciousness of Grape God and the psychedelic astral-travelers of Renaissance Coalition.
Next installment: July 27, celebrating the release of MUC2PDX, a beat compilation featuring contributions from producers living in Portland and Munich.
Hungry Hungry Hip-Hop
When and where: Every last Sunday at Mississippi Pizza.
The gist: For a long time, the only place you could catch live rap in Portland with any regularity was the backroom of a pizza parlor. Five years in, Hungry Hungry Hip-Hop continues to incubate the potential future, providing a crucial stage for newbie MCs to cut their teeth as performers with either an official set or as part of the open freestyle sessions that conclude each night.
Next installment: To be announced.
When and where: Every last Thursday at White Eagle Saloon.
The gist: A collaboration between veteran rap boosters DJ Klyph and Idris "StarChile" Oferrall, Mic Check aims to showcase emerging talent while also honoring those who were grinding during the lean years, back when it was almost impossible to imagine a McMenamins-owned hippie-folk den opening its doors to hip-hop.
Next installment: June 30 with Mic Crenshaw, Mic Capes, Jon Belz and Trox.