With just a few short weeks of winter left, the Sneaker Wave warnings are rolling in. There are lots of dope hip-hop happenings surfacing in the Rose City right now—too many to name here, and some that are still TBA—but these two live shows and three fresh releases are a good place to start.

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Out/Loud: Maarquii, Amenta Abioto, Jame Doe, DoublePlusGood

Presenting a night of queer-made music, the Out/Loud platform was started in April 2019 by DoublePlusGood’s Erik Carlson, and Jame Doe’s Jake Moffett “to create a safe, collaborative night which highlights the great queer, musical talent from the city of Portland and beyond.” While previous performers include pop artist Frankie Simone and Layperson, this installment will showcase the bold, sex-positive hip-hop of high femme rapper/singer/dancer Maarquii, the soul-forward melodic looping of singer/multi-instrumentalist Amenta Abioto, power pop singer Jame Doe, and Carlson’s romantic pop project DoublePlusGood. (Fri Feb 28, 9 pm, Kelly’s Olympian, $10-12)


The Thesis: Treehouse Gang, Rockky B, Michele Wylen, Marcus McCauley, DJ Verbz

The following week, stalwart monthly hip-hop joint the Thesis (which, full-disclosure, I help out with) goes off at Kelly’s Olympian. For those who’ve never been, first of all, SHAME ON YOU; the unmissable First-Thursday showcase is known for its high-quality curated lineups of local and out-of-town acts, and being the place to mingle, imbibe, and network with Portland hip-hop’s teeming pool of multi-talented artists, DJs, creatives, and supporters. Mike Bars’ Treehouse Gang headlines March 2020, while newcomer Rockky B—who may have a hit on her hands with fresh single “Personal” featuring Tyus and Lex—makes her live Portland debut; singer/songwriter/producer Michele Wylen will show her performance chops, and there will also be a special guest appearance from Marcus McCauley. (Thurs March 5, 9 pm, Kelly’s Olympian, $10)


“Zoomin,” Raquel Divar, featuring Zenith

A couple weeks ago Raquel Divar dropped “Zoomin,” produced by the UK’s Josh Cyrus, and featuring Portland up-and-coming rapper Zenith. I’ve seen Zenith appear onstage with Raquel on more than one occasion, providing added hype with her immediately obvious star power. The motivating lead single from Divar’s forthcoming full-length sounds pretty sinister over a low 808 trap beat, both MCs slaying with fierce delivery in their respective verses. “This song is about pushing forward, never letting anyone or anything hold you back,” said Divar in a recent press release. “Keeping forward momentum and keepin’ it pushin’.... I’ve been through a lot of struggles in life recently that could have kept me down, but I chose not to let those experiences hold me back.” Having parted ways with her longtime producer/partner Cory O, Divar says that in addition to dropping another new single this March, she’s also working on a visual for her excellent previously released single “Cherry,” produced by JVNITOR.


“Tappin Out,” Cool Nutz, featuring Dame D.O.L.L.A., Drae Steves

Cool Nutz teamed up with fellow Portland-based rappers Drae Steves and Dame D.O.L.L.A. (AKA Blazers’ star point guard Damian Lillard) on “Tappin Out,” a new single from Cool Nutz’ latest album Father of Max, which dropped on February 14. Produced by AzaraelBeats, the song features a high-pitched lo-fi whine, and a braggadocious chorus by Drae Steves. Basketball references are plentiful—going beyond that iconic photo of Dame shooting a game-winning three in the cover art—and the whole song is giving macho, “I’m so rich” vibes, with lyrics centered on wealth and all the nice things hard work brings. In the second verse, Cool Nutz raps, “15-hour flights and a tour bus/And plot it out, bankroll and some surplus/Two bricks, duffle bags and we nervous/Elegant dining, make the white folks serve us.”

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Snugsworth, Fleeting Moments

A couple weeks ago, Portland-based producer Snugsworth—known for co-producing A$AP Ferg’s “Shabba” single and making a slew of beats for Rose City soul singer Blossom—dropped an EP called Fleeting Moments, the follow-up to last year’s self-produced full-length House Flavors. The six-track release is a vulnerable, chill, and introverted tape for studying and relaxing to. Frequent collaborator Blossom also provides the only feature on the EP, offering vocals to final track “Another Lover.” Perhaps my favorite song is the second track, “Let Me Sleep,” featuring some gorgeous guitar strings, and Snugs quietly singing “It’s too cold outside/So I’ll do what I want/When it’s cold outside/I know what you want.”

Want to suggest something local and hip-hop related that I should check out? Holla at me: sneakerwave@portlandmercury.com.

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