Emerging from the grey-green Pacific Northwest, Solar Power: New Sounds in Seattle Hip-Hop collects the best and brightest tracks from Seattle’s current hip-hop underground. This is music that thrives in the shadows, in basements, abandoned warehouses and undiscovered realms where mixtapes and mics are passed like spliffs.Local media has been positive: The Stranger declared that Solar Power “shines a light on Seattle hip-hop’s experimental brilliance.” Much like a sunbreak crashing through the gloom, this record illuminates a wildly diverse spectrum of talented, of-the-moment MCs and producers. These 14 cuts alternately build upon and refute the idiosyncratic foundations laid by Shabazz Palaces, Blue Scholars, Macklemore and Sir Mix-A-Lot.
Seven of these songs are from the queens of the current scene, including a short, dense firework from THEESatisfaction’s Stas Thee Boss, DoNormaal’s haunting nouveau trip-hop, and G-Funk inspired R&B from Gifted Gab. Jarv Dee’s town classic “I Just Wanna” is the requisite Washington state weed anthem, while Dave B’s “Kandi” masterfully counterpoints smouldering guitars with vocal acrobatics.
Wrapped inside a radiant, reflective sun painted by Seattle artist Ari Glass, you’ll find a honey-yellow disc, musical DNA, a slick vinyl engine: This is solar power. Seattle, rain-damp and stir-crazy, sequestered and inventive, generates its own seductive energy, especially when it comes to music. Drop the needle on any song here and you’ll hear a tale untold, an equation without a solution, an anthem in search of a nation that’s ready to fight, fuck or dance. This album is an instant artifact, capturing in permanent wax some of the ephemeral energy and angst of this auspicious, confounding moment in time.