by Clint Burgess

Spokane doesn't exactly scream rapper's paradise. But Tyler Jensen (aka Luck13) and Ceth Leonard may just change that. The two comprise the local rap duo OutSpokane (pronounced "outspoken") and are freestylin' their way to blowin' up the Lilac City.

Scenesters may remember Tyler's former group, 2 Real, which had a local hit last year with "Summertime in the 509" and enjoyed an opening spot for LL Cool J at the Met. But things didn't work out with the 2 Real crew, and now the duo are making the most of a timely collaboration -- timely in the sense that some of their solo work and preliminary tracks for an upcoming album have already garnered some major-label interest.

Jensen says, "As soon as we met, instantly, it was like, boom, we were in the studio every weekend dropping track after track like crazy."

Jensen and Leonard both experienced adversity early on in life, so the guys are all business when it comes to rapping. Music became an outlet for the two. "I grew up on the reservation. It's just like any ghetto," recounts Leonard.

OutSpokane boasts a unique sound that blends hook-laden vocal melodies with stoic raps about real-life issues, not the bling-bling bumble-gum rap that has diluted the genre. Both Jensen and Leonard posses impressive ability behind the mike and have an ear for urban beats. The guys profess a love of music that ranges from hip-hop to oldies to good ol' gangsta rap. "I love gangsta rap," says Jensen. "But I don't promote violence."

The duo tries to open the public's eyes to the everyday struggles young people are faced with. But Jensen and Leonard also struggle with the relative obscurity of their craft.

It's painfully evident that Spokane's rap and hip-hop scene is miles underground. However, it's by no means defunct -- and things might be changing for the better.

"If the radio stations would just be more open-minded and give the music a chance, then we might get somewhere," says Jensen.

"Yeah," Leonard enthuses. "Everybody's got an opinion on what sounds good, and you can't just have a handful of people making those decisions for everybody."

A small community of performers is trying to do something new and interesting. It just takes the support of the scene to give them a shot. This could be the groundwork for what may eventually be the rise of a whole new public performance experience for local music lovers. So get out to the local scene and give a shout.

Publication date: 02/06/03

Eye Contact... A Night of Art @ Washington Cracker Co. Building

Thu., Sept. 23, 5-8 p.m.
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