My relationship to hip hop has always been complicated by my upbringing as a fourth generation black feminist. I love music and great beats, but lately I’ve found mainstream hip hop to be intolerable.

I’m sick of the word “nigger” and the way hip hop seems hell bent on claiming it as though internalizing racism somehow makes it more palatable. I find equally profane songs filled with repetitive, unimaginative lyrics depicting rape culture and capitalism at it’s worst. I can’t dance to that. I set Pandora to Stevie Wonder and think longingly about a time when artists made music.

So when local musician and hip hop artist Draze asked me to listen to his new mix tapeSeattle’s Own, I gave him my disclaimer and a chance to pick someone less likely to write a thesis on the impacts of bad lyricism on the human spirit.

Halfway through the first track, I thought okay, this is hip hop I don’t have to hate. Though there is as much profanity as there are bible references, neither deter from the dope beats and smart lyricism.

The title track, Seattle’s Own, is a vibrant salute to the 206 hip hop scene and includes over 50 shoutouts to various Seattle rappers and recording artists from Black Stax and Thee Satisfaction to Macklemore. Most of the list (Macklemore and Sir Mix-a-Lot excluded) are people you wouldn’t hear on Kube 93 (back when they were actually playing hip hop… RIP) but who are making some creative and filthy albums also worth bumping.

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