Music

Making a musical shift

It’s a rap revolution

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

If you had told me when I began writing about music in this area all those years ago that the day would come when the surest way to sell out a show in Bellingham would be to book a hip-hop act, I might not have believed you.

Hip-hop? More popular than garage rock? More popular than bluegrass? In Bellingham?

I didn’t see it coming, but I’ll take it.

Although various forces have brought about this cultural and musical shift, the Wild Buffalo is currently at the forefront of the local rap revolution, and their current calendar is a reflection of that fact.

Sir Mix-A-Lot is one of those people who played the Wild Buffalo once—and has made it a stop on every tour since. The Bellingham audience is a force to be reckoned with and the Seattle rapper who likes big butts and cannot lie (you other brothers can’t deny) knows just how to handle our overly enthusiastic crowds. As is always the case when Sir Mix-A-Lot brings his posse from Broadway to Holly Street, his Fri., Oct. 20 show is sold out, so if you’ve slept on buying tickets, you’ll be square-dance rapping outside and wishing your boyfriend was swass like Mix.

You’ll have another chance to scratch your hip-hop itch the very next night, Sat., Oct. 21, when Trinidad James plays the Buff. James does hail from Trinidad, but comes to us by way of Atlanta and that city’s rich underground hip-hop scene. He achieved some notoriety—and gold-record certification—for 2012’s “All Gold Everything,” which is a song title, fashion direction and lifestyle choice for the rapper who, according to his official bio “refused to sacrifice his love for his mother or lust for material things.” Stay gold, Trinidad James.

Several days later, Lyrics Born, the man whose packed-out show at the now-defunct Nightlight years ago alerted me to the fact that Bellingham was a town dying for quality hip-hop, returns to Bellingham and the Wild Buffalo for a Thurs., Oct. 26 show. Japanese-American, with a Jewish-Italian mother, hailing from the Berkeley, Lyrics Born breaks every hip-hop mold and remakes them in his own style and according to his own vision. Fiercely indie, unapologetically political and with a monster of a live show, Lyrics Born might have been around a minute, but he sure hasn’t lost a step. He helped announce the dawn of the hip-hop era in Bellingham, and if you haven’t seen what all the fuss was about, now’s the time.

The last artist in this roundup hits town on Halloween—Tues., Oct. 31—a night when Bellingham always lets its freak flag fly. But something tells me that Brother Ali will be more than able to take the fright night madness in stride. A longtime member of the Rhymesayers Entertainment crew and one of the more respected voices in independent hip-hop, Ali is another artist who makes his message the focus of his music. He has an extensive history as a community activist, makes it a point to explore issues relating to privilege in his life and his lyrics, and will bring with him the thought-provoking and inspiring songs from his first album in five years, 2017’s All the Beauty in This Whole Life.

As mentioned, Sir Mix-A-Lot is sold out, but tickets for the Trinidad James, Lyrics Born, and Brother Ali shows are still available—but going fast. Any or all could sell out at any moment. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

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