This summer has already been packed with local hip-hop releases and happenings, and I am whelmed. Here are two dope things that happened in Portland hip-hop recently, and two things happening this week that you won’t want to miss.
Karma Rivera, Don’t Sleep on This
At the end of July, Portland MC Karma Rivera finally released her debut EP, Don’t Sleep on This. Willamette Week called the project “meticulously aggro,” and I don’t know about alladat, but it’s Rivera’s most enjoyable work to date. Highlights include opener “No Fairy Tale,” which is about staying true to numero uno and not getting wrapped up in somebody else’s bullshit. “Friendship” and “Like a Flip” are also solid bops, and “A Game” sees Karma talk her shit again. My personal favorite is “Not Yours,” with Mike Mo’s slowed-down production, thick bass line, and whining background distortion. Rivera softens her typical nasal register on the smoothed-out song to deliver clever punchlines about being in a romantic chase: “I know you got your eyes on me, which is no surprise to me/Feelin’ like the shit so they be all like flies on me/I feel unattached but you can’t cut no ties with me/You like that I rap/See me in person, I act so awkwardly.” This Friday she's opening for Flynt Flossy and Turquoise Jeep.
Maarquii, “Roll Up”
A couple of weeks ago, rapper and former Chanti Darling dancer Maarquii dropped a music video for their new single “Roll Up” with production duo JVNITOR, directed by Evan Atwood. The visual is part weed, part basketball, and part EPIC twerking. Beginning with Maarquii and their friend (makeup artist/drag performer Kerry Yamaucci) kiki-ing on a city stoop, Maarquii decides to show their skills on the basketball court. The symbolism here is rich—a not-so-subtle nod to challenging gender norms by dominating a hyper-masculine space (basketball/hip-hop) with a queer body. An MC who can fiercely deliver witty lyrics, serve face, star power, dance, and twerk like a pro all at once? Maarquii’s unique perspective and arsenal of talents puts them in a lane of their own. Their forthcoming album C.A.B.O. (an acronym for “Cut a Bitch Off”) is due this fall.
THIS IS HAPPENING
YGB Presents Black Panther
As part of the city’s “Movies in the Park” series, YGB is hosting a screening of Black people’s new favorite joy machine, Black Panther. Before we’re provided a free opportunity to fangirl about evil King Killmonger’s distractingly nice physique, Shuri’s unimaginable excellence at STEM, or Okoye’s ability to neutralize an opponent with or without a wig, we’ll also get to see a show featuring local artists of the African diaspora: North Portland-raised rapper Mic Capes, soul singer Scooty, and DJ Drae Slapz on the ones and twos. Moviegoers are encouraged to wear their most stylish Wakanda-inspired outfits, since there will also be free face painting by local artist Tazha—and a Wakanda costume contest! Fri Aug 17, 6:30 pm, Lents Park, 9000 SE Holgate
Green Hop Fest Block Party with Dead Prez
At Green Hop, you can snatch your reup and then pat yourself on the back knowing your dollars are supporting the only cannabis dispensary in town that’s fully Black-owned and the first hip-hop cannabis dispensary in the country. That’s a mouthful and a mindfuck, but it’s also pretty fucking dope. The Northeast Portland pot shop is hosting a block party-style music fest to raise funds for its workforce development program, Greenhop Academy, which aims to bring more people of color into the cannabis industry. That’s all reason enough to attend, but The free(!) show’s killer lineup is probably what’ll draw swarms of hip-hop fans to the function. The headliner is Florida- and New York-based hip-hop duo Dead Prez, whose Malcolm X-inspired content and militant leftist politics should be a uniquely fun experience in the chilled-out state of a cannabis fest. Along with local artists like Rasheed Jamal, Blossom, Risky Star, Kayela J, Fountaine, and more, this really will be the function. Sat Aug 18, noon-9 pm, Green Hop, 5515 NE 16th