I try to stay hip to what’s happening in hip-hop. I check out the big-timers’ singles and listen to the up-and-coming cats as much as I can. But a couple months ago, I realized I had heard very little rap this year that I actually liked. So I searched high and low for beats and/or rhymes that inspired me. I found a couple good records, but — and this is the truth — I never found anything released on a national level that I like any more than the hip-hop that came out of Bend in 2008.
Maybe I’m a homer, I don’t know, but Bend’s hip-hop scene threw it down this year. The beauty of our medium-sized (and growing) scene is that each MC, DJ and crew holds down its own territory. That makes for friendly personal relationships (as far as I know), but more importantly, it allows a diverse set of voices to represent Central Oregon in this increasingly urban world.
This year’s local hip-hop highlights include Person People MC Mindscape’s brainy, almost mathematical rhymes on his solo joint “Points of View,” the dark party music of Cloaked Characters’ “ZonkedOut Tantrum,” and the warts-and-all bravado of MC Amsterdam on “The Good Hurt.”
Then there’s “Crook County,” the fine new album by The Dirtball (who lives here but is a bigger name elsewhere), Mosley Wotta’s “Scrap Mettle” EP (one of the best things I heard all year in any genre), and a number of beat-centric mixtapes released by Bend DJs Moksha, Smoke and Barisone, not to mention the constant stream of big-name rappers who toured through Bend this year.
The point? For one, hip-hop dominated the local landscape in 2008, further proof that the music once dismissed as a fad has officially crept into every nook and cranny in the country. Second, you should ditch that middling Lil Wayne CD, head to Ranch Records or a show, and find something to bump that’s locally grown.
Hieroglyphics gets the crowd hyped during their show at the Domino Room in September.
Andy Tullis / The Bulletin file photo