Specs One
Sat Feb 12
Tonic Lounge
3100 NE Sandy Blvd

Born and raised in Seattle, Specs One has been in the world of hiphop since that world was born, 1979. Indeed, it's almost impossible to find someone in that city whose life is more devoted to the production of hiphop art than that of Specs One. As far as his memory can tell, he has made 10 full-length CDs under various names--Mic Makers, Balcony (slang for brain), and Clockwise.

Most of these CDs and cassettes were homemade and street-distributed by Specs One. His latest CD, Return of the Artist, however, was released earlier last year by Abduction, the label run by the avant-garde trio Sun City Girls. For reasons that are not entirely mysterious, the members of Sun City Girls have admired the "insane number of limited-edition cassettes and CDRs" made and distributed from the backpack of the man they describe as "The Holy Ghost of Northwest underground." And so when Specs One contacted Sun City Girls about a work in progress that had been dropped by a once-interested label in San Francisco, LOOK Records, they wasted no time picking up, packaging, and marketing what would become one of the best Northwest hiphop CDs of that generally dismal year, 2004.

Comprised of 15 expertly crafted tracks, Return of the Artist was recorded over a three-month period with an MPC 2000 sampler and a TASCAM DA-38--an eight-track recorder. Return of the Artist sounds as if it were made with relatively new equipment, which is certainly not the case with his earlier cassettes and CDs, which sound as if they were made with equipment that was unearthed by archeologists excavating a city that died a thousand years ago. When that dead city was alive and thriving, it looked very much like the city in which Specs One currently lives, Seattle, the ultimate subject of his art. As it is impossible to separate Specs One from that city's hiphop; it is impossible to separate his music from the city in which it was made.