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Heart of Darkness 

If you can’t stand the heat, don’t go into Wildcard’s kitchen.

click to enlarge Phil Andrade, aka Wildcard
  • Phil Andrade, aka Wildcard

Wildcard's solo disc, Dark Night of the Soul, is a ferocious conversation — a riveting hip-hop voyage through a landscape of failed relationships, family problems, emotional trauma, anger and cocaine, heavily referencing films like Requiem for a Dream and Goodfellas. One stellar track features a clip of Heather Graham’s Rollergirl from Boogie Nights screaming, “Don’t ever f---ing disrespect me!” If you can stomach it, Wildcard gives you one hell of a rap album.

Wildcard made himself known several years ago on Spokane stages, performing alongside fellow rapper Dead Poet, with whom he released an LP, Setting the Bar, in 2007. The duo set themselves apart from other Spokane hip-hop acts, delivering brutal lyrics over intense, distinctive production. The title track on Setting the Bar is a rousing hardcore anthem — the best lines from which are hardly appropriate for print in any respectable periodical. One verse begins: “We’re Dirty Harry cop-killers” and ends with a description of a “visionary” treatment of female anatomy. “Intervention” is the duo’s thrilling and candid exploration of hard drug use.

“I began rapping as a hobby at 14, and really put my mind to it when locked up in a troubled youth home at 16. That’s when I really had time to sculpt my style,” says Phil Andrade, aka Wildcard.

“I always veered closer to a darker and deeper genre,” he says.

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Wildcard, who grew up in the San Gabriel Valley on the east side of Los Angeles, moved with his family to Spokane in 2004 and has been bouncing back and forth between the cities ever since.

Just before Dead Poet and Wildcard’s 2007 album was set to release, the duo hit a huge roadblock. After the Safeway Federal Credit Union in north Spokane was robbed by three men, prosecutors said that Dead Poet was one of them. Despite insisting that he was never in the bank, he was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison.

“All I know is that my boy is gonna be gone for a long time,” Wildcard says. “Dead Poet is my closest friend, and we still talk weekly. We still bounce rhymes off each other, and make sure that we keep our flows up to par. No walls could keep that from happening. I have his back to the fullest, and his flows just keep getting sharper.”

Despite such adversity, Wildcard has maintained steady momentum in the rap game. He recorded a track with Krazyie Bone from Bone Thugs-n- Harmony, which was released on a mixtape in 2006. He’s collaborated with the Sandpeople, Smoke of Oldominion, Qwel and several other hip-hop notables. His next album, The Odyssey, will be released in 2011.

“Expect harder beats, and even more vicious flows,” the rapper says.

“I’ve always loved entertaining. I made a decision a long time ago that I would talk about my own personal struggles, whether controversial or not, because I know someone, somewhere, will be able to relate. My music is my salvation.”

Wildcard plays Bad Penmanship 7 with Jaeda, Ocean, Freetime Synthetic, Cursive, Quiz, We the People Eaters, Wax808, Auddie, Vibeself, P Wrecks, DJ Stone Tobey, ABomb and Fat Arm • Sat, Dec. 18, at 6 pm • Empyrean • $5 • All-ages • 838-9819


OCEAN
Call Me Later

Dan Ocean, with local emcee Quiz 10, was Cheap Meat Suits — a moody, laconic hip-hop duo. Their sound was a splash of cold water to the face of local hip-hop and their only album, Dark City, was a flash of the greatness that passed by quickly and fairly unnoticed. While Quiz has marched on with his emcee duties, Dan Ocean has flown under the radar — at least, until now.

The local producer (who took the crown at this year’s Spokane Beat Battle) drops a bomb this weekend at Bad Pen 7 in the form of his new album, Call Me Later. It’s a strange little beast: an off-kilter fusion of anvil beats, slowed down samples and electrified bursts. “A Break Inside,” a track with Quiz, is a spine-tingler: Quiz’s flow is easy and seamless; Ocean lays fuzzed out electronics around a chilling piano behind him. It’s nearly perfect — and a harbinger of things to come: “Crushed” is upbeat, yet far from optimistic, and “The Horizon” slows Cutting Crew’s “(I Just) Died in Your Arms” from ‘80s power-ballad to ethereal wrist-cutter. Ocean as a producer is less DJ Shadow than he is Paul Oakenfold: a guy who infuses tons of soul into his songs, but appreciates a good dance floor number here and there. (Leah Sottile)

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