Fri Sept 19


"When somebody pops in a Lightheaded album, I want it to feel like they're hanging out with us, rather than we're 'talking to you' or 'come sit in my class,'" explains Braille, emcee for Portland hiphop group Lightheaded. "That's the vibe we like to give off--I'm gonna share myself with you."

Lightheaded's album, Purethoughts (released on DJ Fisher and MF Grimm's Day by Day Entertainment), totally reps for sunny positivity, a consciousness that's almost gleeful. But Braille's mission works--where some folks would get preachy, especially about the sort of spirituality on which the group bases their music, Lightheaded's enthusiasm is infectious, unfettered, and unfaltering. Like hanging out with your most earnestly happy friends--who can also drop a nice lyric.

Braille and emcee Ohmega Watts met at the BET Soundstage in Florida in 1999; they met emcee Othello a little later in Seattle. Eventually, they all ended up in Portland for the specific purpose of doing their music. They've found a cozy home within the strength and diversity of Portland hiphop. Says Othello, "I think the Northwest has its own unique thing happening; there's a lot of creativity here, and [Portland] has its own sound--there are a lot of intelligent, creative lyricists here, and a lot of jazzy cats."

I wonder what they think about the proliferation of positive-energy hiphop in Portland, why a lot of Portland groups--like themselves, Lifesavas, and Oldominion--are coming on a spirituality vibe. Says Braille, "The Northwest isn't big enough that you can just blow up out of nowhere--you have to work hard. And I think the people who have been more positive have been more passionate about what they do. But this area is funny--so many different kinds of people listen to our record. I think if I did a song called 'Let's Get Butt Naked,' there's a limited amount of people here it would appeal to. You gotta connect with people if you're gonna make some noise."

Braille is more specific about Lightheaded's purpose. "What we represent is 'optimistic thinking in the world of chaos.' That the world is falling apart around you, but if you know where you are you can remain confident in that. Unconditional freedom, joy, love--those are the things we try to contain within our lifestyles and express through our music."

Ohmega Watts is tentatively working with Ubiquity Records for a 12"; Othello is working on a solo EP, as is Braille. For Lightheaded's forthcoming record, they've collaborated with Ninth Wonder from Little Brother, and Lifesavas.