February 21, 2011 at 10:15 AM

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Review roundup: four Seattle rap/soul releases

Posted by Andrew Matson

This just in from the Internet: four Seattle music recordings of note, from the realm of soul and hip-hop. All are self-released and, as of press time, freely downloadable.


"Late," The Good Sin + 10.4 Rog

"Bad About You" by The Good Sin + 10.4 Rog, feat. Rob Harris

Finally, a formal debut from Renton producer 10.4 Rog (pronounced "ten-four rodge"). After a year of excellent individual tracks, "Late" proves Rog not only has a natural way with the intersection of hip-hop, jazz and neo-soul, but can make a cohesive multi-song document.

The short album ostensibly belongs to deep-voiced Seattle rapper The Good Sin, who is casually commanding, while rapping about his feelings over traditional boom-bap ("The Crown," "Wages & Pages"). He's also comfortable adapting to Rog's quirks, and ably pulls off poetic spoken word on "Wake Up" and "Endpiece," where Rog's touch gets strikingly delicate. The Good Sin says nothing at all on "Winterlude," where Rog becomes a one-man jazz band. The pair do their best work on "Self-Talk," mixing rap and R&B to minimalist and experimental effect, suggesting various rhythms that only partially emerge. (

"Little Dragon Reworks," Monsters by Midnight

"Oh No Dojo" by Monsters by Midnight

In which University of Washington student and DJ/producer Chocolate Chuck furthers his ongoing Internet relationship with fellow producer Crispus McFly, who lives in Boston. The two recently dubbed themselves "Monsters by Midnight" and remixed electronic soul songs by Swedish group Little Dragon, and the result is eight tracks of smeared, jittery music that sounds like but is not hip-hop. All instrumental except for Little Dragon singer Yukimi Nagano's voice, snipped up by digital scissors. (


"Happy 2 Year," Malice and Mario Sweet

"Speed of Light" by Malice and Mario Sweet

Released on Valentine's Day, "Happy 2 Year" is seven Seattle soul tracks, the sound of life and love filtered through Malice (woman) and Mario Sweet (man), and a host of local rap and R&B figures. You may know Malice/Sweet from their involvement with Seattle "lifestyle rap" group The Physics. They are easy to relate to on "Happy 2 Year." Themes explored: "living however the hell I want to," "feeling free now that I quit my job," and "let's go out, I want to shimmy shimmy koko bop." The best song is "Living This Life," '80s-style funk produced by Seattle man Vitamin D and featuring Geo from Blue Scholars. Other exciting guests: 10.4 Rog produces the fizzy "Malice," and Seattle soul singer Choklate takes a fierce turn at rapping on "Happiness." (

"[Expletive] a Valentine," Vitamin D

"Valentine's Day" by Vitamin D presents Sta Hi Brothas

A novel approach: the anti-Valentine. That's what longtime Seattle producer and rapper Vitamin D has done with "[Expletive] a Valentine," featuring his group Sta Hi Brothas (Vitamin and Maineack Tubman). All nine songs are ignorant on purpose, and though the production is aces — old soul, funk and disco flipped into modern hip-hop with exceptional cleanliness — the anti-love party is misogynistic and homophobic to the degree where some listeners will have to turn it off. (

Cover art courtesy the artists

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