September 25, 2008

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Common Market, Tobacco Road
Hyena Records, Sept. 9

Getting there is always the fun part, like here, where RA Scion gleefully expends terawatts of energy trying to put the Seattle hip-hop scene on the map. Um, unless he’s trying to keep it all on the down-low, that is; traditional call-outs (and admitting that there’s a hip-hop scene in Seattle in the first place) are frowned upon out there, so everything Scion goes on about is couched in agricultural metaphors wrapped in riddles inside of enigmas that only a few hundred people actually grok. With the help of Blue Scholar beat guy Sabzi whittling out rinky-dink gospel/blues/jazz samples and whatnot, Scion, in his shoulder-shrugging Lupe Fiasco voice and baseball-card-in-the-bike-spokes flow, gives an opaque shout-out to the Virginia Tech killer, scolds his townie brethren in code, then bawls for his lost Kentucky boyhood, not necessarily in that order of sequence or importance. In closing I’m inclined to say that it’s well-produced, high-end ’90s rap, nowadays known as cutting-edge underground hiphop, and a good number of people think it’s way groovy, and your mileage in regard to the latter may vary widely, like Grand Canyon-widely. C+ — Eric W. Saeger