Last weekend, I was a guest on a panel called The Happening 2017: Portland’s Love/Hate Relationship with Hip-Hop. As usual with local hip-hop functions, I wish a few more voices had shown up to discuss the future of the scene, but it was heartening to see so much interest from newcomers. Making new connections—like the one who introduced me to the music of Portland artist Maarquii—helped me hone in on the week’s best events. Here are four opportunities to experience local hip-hop, support important causes, and celebrate Pride this week.
FRI JUNE 16
The Benefit Show w/Lisa Vasquez, Al-l (Sandpeople), Libretto, Mic Capes, Cool Nutz, & more; Roseland, 8 NW 6th
Poetic Justice PDX is hosting a benefit show in the wake of last month’s MAX tragedy. The massive lineup includes well-known Portland rappers like Mic Capes, Cool Nutz, and Libretto, as well as local R&B singer Rich Hunter (FKA Risky Star), whose soulful new album Third Eye Inspiration makes him the biggest draw for me personally, along with local femcees like Lisa Vazquez and Ascxnsion. Proceeds will benefit the two Black girls who were targeted, one for wearing a hijab.
SAT JUNE 17
SLAY: Pride Edition w/DJ Ronin Roc, DJ Automaton; Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison
Ante Up PDX and Cake PDX team up for SLAY, a monthly hip-hop dance party that caters to the LGBTQIA community, people of color, and the open-minded folk who support them. As always, DJs Ronin Roc and Automation will play all the cuts, and there’ll be a free photo booth where you can also slay (all day). In addition to providing a safe space for minorities, the event also gives back by donating to Planned Parenthood and other local charities. Reminder—the line at Holocene can get pretty nuts, and that’s 100 percent guaranteed to be amplified by Pride weekend, so be sure to RSVP to the event’s Fast Pass at WeSlay.net and you’ll get in for just $5 if you arrive by 10 pm.
Club Destiny w/Maarquii, DJ Bearcat, DJ Casual Aztec, & more; The North Warehouse, 723 N Tillamook
Maarquii is going to give us life this Pride weekend at Club Destiny. The femme Portland rapper makes hip-hop, R&B, experimental, and “snatch-your-edges-booty-house.” From succinct rapping on “Dam God” to showcasing their singing abilities on moody R&B tracks like “Don’t Crash,” Maarquii’s 2016 EP HeavyPetty is a real treat, and the visual for new track “Wirecutters” features immaculate ponytail-whipping. Beyond making quality music, Maarquii also slays in the dance category. In an interview with OUT magazine, Maarquii explained their inspiration. “Aesthetically, I’m inspired by pure high faggotry. I live for a look, for drama, for gender fluidity. Everything you see visually will always be an extension of what you are hearing from me. I’m driven by the need for Black, femme bodies being represented in music and media. It is extremely important right now for Black women/femmes to be loud, seen, and heard at all costs.” Along with co-headliner DJ Bearcat (who’s here from Brooklyn making her Portland debut), this all-night party is guaranteed to have us feeling the perfect level of hungover at the Pride parade.
MON JUNE 19
Sound + Vision w/Karma Rivera, Maze Koroma; Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi
This edition of Sound + Vision, the free monthly concert series presented by the Mercury and Banana Stand Media, will spotlight Black and Latino rapper Karma Rivera, one of the city’s most experienced femcees. Her chilled-out songs like “Everything I Love” and turn-up anthems like “Same BS” ooze self-assuredness. Rivera recently started playing with live band the Heavy Hustle, which complements the insane energy she always brings. Also on the bill is the EYRST collective’s Maze Koroma, whose rhymes about Trader Joe’s and being a “local-ass rapper” are relatable as hell.