After an extra-long holiday break, getting back into Portland’s hip-hop soundwaves has been rough, because it is fucking cold out here. If it was hard to lure Portlanders to rap shows before, it’s five times more challenging right now. Additionally, a lot of Portland’s hip-hop and R&B artists have been pretty quiet release-wise going into the new year, while cryptically teasing their forthcoming albums on Twitter. Until the onslaught of fresh material takes me, here are three (relatively) recent music releases you may have missed, and some upcoming hip-hop events that may be worth breaking your cabin fever for.
Bossin’ Up: Glenn Waco
Stand-up comedian Shrista Tyree’s new-ish monthly hip-hop showcase on the upper balcony of Bossanova Ballroom has had a pretty solid start. The first Bossin’ Up of 2019 features Portland-grown rapper/activist Glenn Waco as its headliner, while fellow Portland MC Laine, Cleveland/Los Angeles rapper Francis Fall, and NappyTHC back up the bill. (Thurs Jan 17, 8 pm, Bossanova Ballroom, 722 E Burnside, $9)
Eggs and Hip-Hop Over Easy
The Breakout Show, JAMN 107.5, and Trap Kitchen present a networking session and breakfast for the Portland hip-hop community to mingle at. Cool Nutz is your host for the morning, and music will be provided by DJ Fatboy. Guest speakers include Vursatyl of the Lifesavas, who’ll discuss the benefits, sacrifices, and health impacts of touring, and Griffin of CD Baby, who’ll talk about the ins and outs of digital streaming and how to use them to your advantage. Each $10 ticket includes a full breakfast with beverages, but the event caps at 50 people, so you're advised to get your tickets early. Vegetarian options are available. (Sat Jan 19, 10 am, IHeartRadio Portland Theater, 13333 SW 68th Pkwy, 4th floor, Tigard, $10, all ages)
Brown Calculus Vinyl Release Party
Intergalactic jazz duo Brown Calculus (AKA Vaughn Kimmons and Andre Burgos) work at the intersection of jazz, soul, and hip-hop. Last year they garnered enough votes to land on Willamette Week’s Best New Band list, after releasing their debut project Live at the Map Room. Now the duo’s throwing a vinyl release show where you can grab a physical copy and see them perform gorgeous tracks like “Self-Care” and “Good Job.” It’s also worth noting that the opener is rapper/beatmaker Stas THEE Boss, formerly of the spacey Seattle hip-hop/R&B duo THEESatisfaction. (Thurs Jan 24, Mississippi Pizza & Atlantis Lounge, 3552 N Mississippi, $8)
“Renegade,” Raquel Divar feat. KayelaJ
It’s awesome (and rare) to see a collaboration between two women who rap, and a fresh one just dropped. Over an ominous trap beat, “Renegade” sees the Portland MCs sounding off on their male counterparts who underestimate or belittle them. Divar anchors the song with her even tone and calm, confident delivery, while KayelaJ comes in for a wild attack in her verse: “You wanna underestimate me huh/You think I’m just a baby huh/I’m doggin’ these niggas left and right/I think I got the rabies bro/I’m foaming at the mouth/Can’t shut me up or shut me out.” And that’s just the intro. The two performed the track at GirlFest earlier this month, which is hopefully not the last time we’ll see these femcees share the spotlight.
Maze Koroma, “Menace”
At the end of last year, EYRST rapper Maze Koroma dropped “Menace,” a super cool track produced by Neill Von Tally. Over an old school-sounding beat, Koroma raps about being a mischievous kid growing up in North Portland, being “a couple footsteps away from the pen,” not being protected by the law, seeing rapid gentrification, and being seen as a menace by the same neighborhood that raised him. It’s one of my favorite songs Koroma has put out so far, and I hope to god there’s a music video on the way.
Last month Bocha released his seven-track EP M.A.A.N. (an acronym for Maturing as a Nigga), the beats for which were all produced by Sxlxmxn. And from the sound of it, they really took their time. The project’s got several features from local friends, including vocals from R&B singers Blossom and Scooty, as well as Donte Thomas and T. Spoon. Highlights include the title track, the energetic “Watch Me,” and “BLANG,” which should really slap live. (Sat Feb 2, 8:45 pm, The Fixin’ To, 8218 N Lombard, $10)