Clubs in Portland rarely turn up on a Tuesday. And for iLoveMakonnen—the man who wrote the anthem for getting lit on a weeknight—that's part of the city's appeal.
"I just really wanted to get away from the city, but still be kind of in a city," says the 27-year-old singer-rapper. "This was my No. 1 choice."
It's a common sentiment among transplants, though you wouldn't expect to hear it from a guy who's got Drake's number in his favorite contacts. In 2014, after years of pushing self-released mixtapes around Atlanta, Makonnen landed on the national radar with the slurry head trip "Tuesday," which hit No. 1 on the R&B charts after getting blessed with a remix featuring Champagne Papi himself.
You'd think someone with a platinum plaque and superstar co-signs would find the pace of life in the Pacific Northwest grindingly slow. But according to Makonnen, there's no place he'd rather spend his late 20s. And so he moved to town last September.
"I kind of fit in and just do my own thing, and that's what happens here in Portland," he says. "Out-of-towners call it weird, but I just call it normal."
For years, Portland acted as a homing beacon for indie rockers while earning a reputation for being inhospitable to musicians who play almost anything else. But that's starting to change. Gradually, the recent strides of the local hip-hop community have begun reverberating beyond the city's borders—at least enough to attract someone like Makonnen, whose eccentric style places him at the vanguard of his genre as much as Modest Mouse in the early 2000s.
Granted, it wasn't necessarily the rap scene that drew him here. He liked the proximity to nature, the plethora of vegan restaurants and the dog-friendly environment. And also the marijuana laws. In terms of music, he expected to discover a bunch of new punk bands. Once he started going out, though, he had his ears perked in ways he didn't expect. He attended the Thesis, the monthly hip-hop showcase at Kelly's Olympian, and got turned on to emerging acts like the Last Artful Dodgr and soul singer Blossom.
And as much as Makonnen's presence is indicative of an arts culture that's shifting for the good, living here has already had an impact on Makonnen. Last month, he made blog headlines by coming out as gay. He says being in Portland pushed him to stop hiding that part of himself and live as he's always wanted.
"Portland is a place where everyone is being themselves, so I just felt like, I'm living here, and I want to be able to be myself," Makonnen says. "I guess that's why I call it my home now."
Welcome to Reasons to Love Portland 2017
1. Portland Is Telling Donald Trump That He Won't Get Away With This
2. We're Rich! Portland Has The Nation's Fastest Growing GDP
3. Here's How Far Portlanders Have Ridden in the First Six Months of BikeTown
4. We're Very Happy That Portland Bartenders Can Finally Drink on The Job.
5. When the Snow Hit, Portlanders Saved Lives By Volunteering at Homeless Shelters
6. At Long Last, Portland Has The Kinky Coffee Shop It's Needed
7. A Selected List of All Portland's Recent Number 1 Rankings
8. Move Over PCT: You'll Soon Be Able to Mountain Bike From Washington to California
9. Oregon Has The Nation's Cheapest Weed. Thank God.
10. This is the Best Ski Season Mount Hood Has Had Since Obama Was a Senator
11. Nobody Snowdays Harder Than Portland
12. Portland Finally Has Architecture Worth Arguing About
13. Check Out This Crazy New Recording Studio in a Former Library in Deep Southeast
14. Weed Delivery Will Begin in Portland Any Day Now
15. In Portland, You Never, Ever Need To Call Domino's
16. Portland Is Home to the Most Liberal College in America. No, Not That One.
17. There's A Forgotten Wonder In Oregon City. It'll Soon Be Revealed
18. Portland's Blazers Bootleg T-Shirts Are Lit
19. Portland is Metal AF
20. ILOVEMAKONNEN Moved To Portland. No, For Real
21. Sorry, Donald, We Won't Help You Deport Our Neighbors.
22. Portland Now Has a Patriarchy-Free Social Club and Workspace
23. Oregon is the New Truffle King of the World
24. Check Out These Photos of the Winter Light Festival
25. In Portland, You Can See Every Movie Nominated For an Oscar in the Theater
26. Portland Art Museum is Tapping into the Legacy of Arguably Oregon's Greatest Artist
27. Yes, Portland Has More Pinball Machines Than New York and Los Angeles
28. Portland Has Vegan Everything. A Selected List.
29. In Portland, Dive Bars Never Really Die