As I write this column, I’m still coming down from the for-once-not-weed-induced high of seeing Dodgr sell out an unrecognizable Roseland Theater last Saturday. With bill support from regional favorites Maarquii and Blimes & Gab, it was inspiring to see Dodgr set a glimmering precedent for other artists in the city who have hopes of doing the same. Now that we’ve bid Dodgr a fond farewell (for now), let’s dive into what else is new in the scene.
“Ego Check,” Wynne feat. JID
On October 12, Lake Oswego’s Wynne released “Ego Check,” featuring Dreamville rapper JID, the latest track from Wynne’s forthcoming debut mixtape If I May... (out October 25). And if I may, I’d like to deem this song my new favorite from the blonde-haired MC. The song illustrates the experience of getting (ego) checked before entering a venue, with both rappers confidently talking their shit about where they’re at in their respective careers. Over a simple beat that brings back the classic, vinyl-scratch sound, Wynne delivers some of her best bars in the first verse, opening it up with “I don’t look backsothey ho assnever see my face, okay/Being passive-aggressiveis in my DNA, okay.” Wynne’s sung chorus (“You can’t even get past the fucking bouncer/Who do you know here?”) glides easily above the beat, and then JID’s featured verse is pure fire. One of the most ear-catching lines is when he says, “Tell me what the fuck you niggas talm’bout/I’m tired, might put a Tommy gun in Tomi Lahren’s mouth.” [AIRHORNS] “Ego Check” also includes a short cameo from DJ O.G. ONE, who closes out the song with a nod to Portland: “It’s official, you know what time it is/Rose City.” Wynne also recently revealed the track list and credits for her mixtape, and now I’m dying to hear the rest of it.
Portlandsterdam, Swiggle Mandela
Also on October 25, Portland rapper Swiggle Mandela is dropping Portlandsterdam, an absolute monster of an album (mixtape?) with 29 tracks. Why so many songs? You might ask. Well, the project is meant to celebrate Swiggle Mandela’s 29 years of life. Opening track “Lit Tonight,” includes a verse from Seattle’s Raz Simone—the only listed feature on the project. There’s also Swiggle’s twerkable lead single “Adobo,” alt-weekly diss track “Dear Willamette Week,” as well as “Dear White Portland” and much, much more. Also on the day of the album’s release, Swiggle Mandela is throwing a release party at Bit House Saloon hosted by Shrista Tyree, with—I kid you not—19 rappers on the bill. (Fri Oct 25, 9 pm, Bit House Saloon, 727 SE Grand, $10-20)
Geek, Sir Nai
ICYMI back in August, Portland-based producer Sir Nai dropped a very cool tape of instrumentals called Geek, following it up with a beat set at the Thesis. “I called this project Geek simply because I’m called one a lot, usually for the collection of things I own,” Sir Nai says in an email. With just five tracks clocking at under than 12 minutes, Sir Nai says there are no samples on the project; all are original, personal arrangements “meant to be chill, easy and bright.” This tape would work really well on one of those lo-fi YouTube playlists by ChilledCow that are great aids for chill/relax/study time. Now, manifest!
Ladies First! Hip-Hop/Soul Showcase: Karma Rivera, Amenta Abioto, Lisa Vazquez, KayelaJ
Set in the Jack London’s cozy basement bar, the first installment of the Ladies First series from Moss Media brings together some of the town’s stalwart music acts. From rapper/radio personality KayelaJ to MC/loop-pedal maestro Lisa Vazquez to a high-energy performance from Karma Rivera, there’s lots to see here. But perhaps the most moving part of the evening will be a partially improvised set from soul singer/multi-instrumentalist Amenta Abioto, who also uses looping techniques to create her music, weaving vocal sounds together with kalimba, synths, drum machine, and guitar. Originally from Nashville but residing in Portland, Abioto’s soothing Southern accent and joyful experimentalism are a breath of fresh air. (Fri Oct 25, 9:30 pm, Jack London Revue, 529 SW 4th, $12-15)
The Thesis: [E]mpress, Harvee Bird, KisHerGoodnight, Verbz
The November 2019 installment of Portland’s most poppin’ hip-hop showcase—which, full disclosure, I help out with—is gearing up to be a fun, rock-tinged time. This month’s headliner is [E]mpress, an MC who makes an original blend of hip-hop with EDM and classic rock influences. In early 2019, the young rapper (finally) made her first live appearance at the Thesis, having been put on ice until she turned of age. Her headlining show should mark the beginning of a new era for the artist. The all-Portland lineup will also showcase the similar vibes of Harvee Bird and KisHerGoodnight. (Thurs Nov 7, 9 pm, Kelly’s Olympian, 426 SW Washington, $10)