As far as Portland’s hip-hop music calendar is concerned, August might just be the busiest month of the year so far. Between Portland Hip-Hop Week, Damian Lillard AKA Dame DOLLA’s recent release of Big D.O.L.L.A. (pretty damn good!), and a bunch of other new releases from local artists popping up, there’s actually too much going on. I have no idea how we’re going to make it to everything, but here’s a slew of dope things you should at least try to check out this month.
KayelaJ, Quinn, Bocha
It’s no secret that Portland-bred rapper/radio personality KayelaJ has had a huge break-out year in the Portland scene, and for good reason. Li’l homie has been hard at work releasing quality output, including her debut album D.Y.K.E. Just recently, the young MC released a music video/short film that tackles three tracks from her Homage mixtape (“Thank You Lil Kim,” “Thank You Lauryn Hill,” and “Thank You Missy Elliott”). Predictably, it’s exceedingly enjoyable. Her upcoming gig at Mississippi Studios will mark her first time headlining a venue of that size, and also showcase Houston transplant Quinn, whose Detached Thoughts project is worth a spin, and Bocha, one of the town’s buzziest rappers. (Thurs Aug 15, 9 pm, Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi, $5)
Raquel Divar “Cherry”
On August 15, Raquel Divar drops her bouncy new song “Cherry,” produced by Maarquii collaborator Jvnitor. The first time I heard “Cherry” is when the rapper performed the track at PDX Pop Now! to a very positive reception. Now that it’s available for streaming, I can say this with confidence: This is my favorite Raquel Divar song yet. It’s got a grimy, low-humming bassline and clean, twerkable beat, and Raquel shines with her rhythmic wordplay and effortlessly cool delivery à la Leikeli47. It’s exciting to think about what this perfectly matched rapper-producer collab could do in the future. My sources say there’s also a video in the works—buckle up! (Sun Aug 17, 8 pm, Bossanova Ballroom, 722 E Burnside, $20-25, w/SaRoc, Brown Calculus, KayelaJ, Lisa Vazquez, Amenta Abioto, [E]mpress, DJ Mami Miami)
Second Annual Green Hop Block Party
Green Hop’s second annual block party will be headlined by Fountaine, one of Portland’s most stalwart MC/producer/DJs. While last year’s block party was headlined by New York hip-hop duo Dead Prez, this year’s function will double as an album release party for hometown hero Fountaine (revealing a new project we should all be very excited about), and the rest of the locally based bill is also excellent, featuring performances from Bocha and Donte Thomas of the Produce Organics collective, as well as [E]mpress, and the Dutchess (FKA Nina XO). All proceeds from the event will go toward the Green Hop Academy program, which teaches Black and Latinx communities about the cannabis industry from seed-to-sale, and seeks to diversify the multi-billion-dollar legal weed industry. With Green Hop, one of the only Black-owned cannabis dispensaries in Portland and the first hip-hop themed pot shop in the country, this all-day party is crucial for uplifting the culture. (Sat Aug 17, 1-9 pm, Green Hop, 5515 NE 16th, all ages, FREE, w/King Wess, MadamGolong)
Portland Hip-Hop Week
This year, the annual Portland Hip-Hop Day has been turned into a week-long celebration (August 20-26) that seeks to celebrate positive growth in Portland hip-hop culture, put an end to the concept of “gatekeeping” within the scene, and place the responsibility of curating events back in the people’s hands. The celebration also honors what would be the birthday of Portland hip-hop fixture Idris “StarChile” O’Ferrall, who passed away last year and founded Portland Hip-Hop Day with DJ OG One in 2014. There’s a plethora of quality of stuff going on, like The Thesis Presents: Respect the Shooter hip-hop showcase at Kelly’s Olympian (Thurs Aug 22), which will also celebrate the scene’s photographers; an all-ages A Beat Happening (Thurs Aug 22) featuring Snugsworth, and more; and the alluring Illamette Fest (Sat Aug 24). Co-presented with Portland Harbor Community Coalition and Get Hooked Foundation, Illamette Fest features a slew of artists, including Amenta Abioto, Jonny Cool, Mat Randol, J Prodigy, and more, all performing on the river. There’s no shortage of free and all-ages options throughout the week, so head to pdxhiphopday.com for a detailed schedule of events. (Tues Aug 20-Mon Aug 26, various times and locations, see pdxhiphopday.com for full schedule.)
Covi., “Sweet Tooth”
Portland rapper Covi. recently dropped a visual for “Sweet Tooth,” the latest single from his 2018 project Escalate with Me. Produced by Snugsworth and featuring Janaeture and De’aires, “Sweet Tooth” is a sensual bop that celebrates the beauty of brown-skinned women. The video—directed by Jalen Ladd, and shot and edited by Riley Brown—provides the fun and lighthearted visual content the song hankers for. In contrast to previous videos like the snow-covered “Man Now,” and his Wild West-themed “Better Days,” this one’s all about baking and sugar-sweet innuendos, with two hunnies weighing out ingredients and licking their fingers while watching an episode of Culinary Covi’s Escalation Kitchen. It’s vibey, silly, and quite an amusing watch.
Swiggle Mandela, “Adobo” featuring Jasey Cordeta, Timmi Hendrixxx
In addition to Covi.’s video for “Sweet Tooth,” Swiggle Mandela also recently put out a food-focused and very entertaining music video with “Adobo,” a song that sees Swiggle compare his drip to a zesty sauce. “My brothers and I are Filipino and Black and we thought it was only right to blend the two cultures,” Swiggle Mandela says, “by writing a song about our favorite Filipino dish.” The song—featuring his two brothers—definitely slaps, and the video was shot at a variety of Portland locations: Stoopid Burger, Green Hop dispensary, Slingshotz Espresso Bikini Barista, Third Eye Books and Accessories, and Mandela’s hip-hop co-op Shop La Familia & Co-Op. In addition to plenty of funny one-liners, there’s a lot going on here: cooking, twerking, and Swiggle holding stacks of money like a camera while riding on top of a car in a Nipsey Hustle tee. According to a news release, “Adobo” is the lead single from Mandela’s upcoming debut full-length Portlandsterdam, due out in October.
Unity: Mare Advertencia Lirika, Valentina Peralta, KayelaJ, DJ Lapaushi
In a show of progressively-minded unity, Colectivo RUDA, Joop Joop Creative, and KBOO Community Radio join forces to present “a night of feminist Latinx/PDX hip-hop.” The Doug Fir bill features four artists who address social injustice with regard to gender and race in their music: Zapotec artist Mare Advertencia Lirika, Chile’s Valentina Peralta, Portland’s own KayelaJ, and DJ Paushi of Noche Libre PDX. (Tues Aug 20, 9 pm, Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside, $10-12)