There’s a lot going on this month, and there’s no way I could possibly fit all of it into this column. Nonetheless, here’s some dope shit that’s happening.
A Beat Happening: Amenta Abioto, Kokio, ThomasHenry, Emcee Dimension
Calling all beat-heads! For A Beat Happening’s 14th installment, they’re showcasing the endless talents of singer/songwriter Amenta Abioto, who’s known for her intimate, mesmerizing performances where she uses a loop machine to weave together her powerful voice with stories and African sounds. Many tracks, like her latest single "Plant It," were created through improvisation. Buckle up for Abioto’s soul-powered performance of the aptly named “Revolution,” and expect beat sets from 17-year-old producer Kokio, Nashville transplant ThomasHenry, and hip-hop beatmaker McDimension, along with an appearance from DJ Tita of Noche Libre. (Thurs March 21, 6 pm, Future Shock, 1914 E Burnside, FREE, all ages)
This Is How We Do It w/Frankie Simone, Blossom, Ripley Snell
This mish-mashed Holocene event is equal parts dance party and hip-hop/pop/R&B show. Portland-based Puerto Rican pop singer Frankie Simone (and all her defiant queerness) headlines, and while seeing her perform a live version of the excellently choreographed song “War Paint” is reason enough to go, Bobby D and the Liquid Beat DJs will be on the ones and twos for our ass-throwing pleasure. Soul singer Blossom and MC Ripley Snell add even more juice to the bill, which potentially provides an opportunity to hear both EYRST artists’ unreleased solo material. Which brings me to my next point...(Fri March 22, 9 pm, 1001 SE Morrison, $5 adv, $8 door; w/DJs Bobby D and Liquid Beat)
ePP, “Short Run” + Forthcoming Music from EYRST
EYRST rapper ePP’s new song “Short Run” is the second single (following the very catchy “Come My Way”) from his forthcoming album There’s a Place for People Like You. Inspired partly by the strip club and driven by a drum-and-bass interplay, the danceable beat is produced by Damon Boucher and Neill Von Tally. The bravado-packed song is about ePP’s journey coming up in the rap scene and how he was “never in it for the short run.” “I wanted to make a song about trying your best not to think negatively about yourself and just being confident, even if it’s just for a moment in time,” ePP says. The single is the first teaser in a slew of upcoming drops from the EYRST camp, all meant to promote albums from ePP, Blossom, and Ripley Snell, who all reportedly have albums coming out in June. Snell dropped “Manifinessea,” featuring longtime collaborator Old Grape God, and Blossom just released a cool track called “Career Suicide,” which she says she wrote at the beginning of her music mentorship with Portland Public Schools. “I wanted to write something kids could sing along to and remind myself of my playful nature,” Blossom says. “The song is about wanting to run headfirst into success... and leaving behind parts of life that brought you stress.”
Last month, SamuelThe1st dropped his debut LP, Self—a follow-up to an EP titled Yuh (eyeroll). On Self, SamuelThe1st demonstrates the benefits of horizontal collaboration and appears to have mastered the art of the melodic hook. Portland producers like BravoDomo, Deadbrainz, and Samarei contribute beats to the project. Opening track “I Want,” produced by and featuring Drae Slapz, is reminiscent of Migos and just one instance on the album where Samuel’s Southern rap influences are apparent. Other standouts include “Bulleit,” “Hi.,” the downtempo “Elevator,” and “L 4 Luv,” featuring Oakland’s Brookfield Duece.
Karma Rivera, “Not Yours”
In addition to dropping off her short and swaggering new song “TOG” (which I’m told has an accompanying video out soon), Portland rapper Karma Rivera has a steamy new music video out for “Not Yours.” The single from her debut EP Don’t Sleep on This is set to crawling, bass-heavy production by Mike Mo and Jack Kennedy, and it’s one of the project’s strongest tracks. The video, shot and directed by Adolfo Cantu-Villarreal, depicts a queer-inclusive party scene complete with tarot card readings and sage-smudging... and then Karma getting sensual in a private room with model-grade ladies and gents. With lots of subtle cameos from local creatives and some seriously gorgeous color effects, Cantu-Villarreal excellently captured the vibe of the song, and it’s already got more than two thousand views on YouTube.