What you should not do is click the top four friends and immediately open Cancer Rising, D. Black, Kublakai and Neema's MySpace pages on four subsequent Internet Explorer tabs. Thou shalt not do this because songs will play simultaneously, and instead of getting a varied slice of all that is not "hobby rap" in the 206, it will be a cacophony.
Let's do this one step at a time.
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & C & lt;/span & ancer Rising is fun and clever. Judas can off-the-top freestyle and Gatsby loves and dresses like Ice Cube. Together, they rap about Seattle -- but not Sleepless in Seattle or Starbucks -- and do it with a sense of humor. They name-drop inner-city fried chicken spots (Ezell's), get drunk and run through not-famous South End neighborhoods. When they talk about Georgetown, "we ain't talkin' Hoyas / plus we pass the bar like we alcoholic lawyers." Auxiliary MC blesOne chimes in with delightfully asshole-ish West Coast raps and on-stage b-boy antics (he's a famous breakdancer); DJ Tiles One dutifully plays beats. Cancer Rising reps the hoi polloi and does it well.
D. Black has star quality. Short and squat, he's huge on stage, a massively self-important wrecking ball of energy that, in a storm of fog over dark brooding beats, will beat into you that he is made for this game. He raps about how you shouldn't f**k with him, but does it with "that voice," a magic Biggie Smalls tone full of charisma. He's the biological seed of the late-'70s Emerald Street Boys/Girls, arguably Seattle's first hip-hop crew, and when not planning world rap domination makes beats that G-Unit ex-pat Young Buck buys and disses 50 Cent over. (Like, two weeks ago. For real. Check the Internet.)
Kublakai is a breathy, introspective rapper like Slug and Brother Ali, except he's less pointedly "emo" and more fed up with the bullshit of daily life. Self-described as "the real caught up in all the politics and fakeness," Kublakai says, "Stay grounded? F**k that, I'm tryna stay afloat!"
Neema is a grinder, a cell phone kiosk hawker likely to roll up on you at the gas station, hand you a concert flyer, impress you with the fact that he's unafraid to look stupid and will not stop talking. His idea of rap success is mainstream sounds with underground impact: His new song, "Light That Fire," with Bay Area force Mistah F.A.B., is slick and meaningless but pretty cool sounding.
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & here is no "sound of Seattle," but there is a scene, and the 206 Degrees and Rising acts are reasons it exists.
Their posters and flyers are everywhere in Seattle because they play concerts all the time. Like aspiring rappers in every city, they support big tours for Wu-Tang Clan and Freeway, but they also do shows with each other and with other local rap groups -- and sometimes rock groups -- often. They sell albums and T-shirts, and all get played on KEXP (90.3 FM, the semi-independent local tastemaker), KUBE (93.3 FM, the Clear Channel "rhythm" cesspool) and X104 (104.5 FM, a weak-signaled rap/R & amp;B upstart).
These guys are deep in the community. Seattle knows them. Now you can, too.
206 Degrees and Rising tour featuring Cancer Rising, D. Black, Kublakai and Neema with locals Gun of the Sun at the Zombie Room on Saturday, June 28, at 8 pm. Price TBA. Call 456-4515.