ART PROJECTS

Since 2013, Crane City Music has promoted Seattle hip-hop through writing, photos, record reviews, films, drawings, ’zines, playlists, events, and more. Below is a list of specific projects, events, and speaking engagements.

The Homeskillet Drawings (2015): This set of 50 ink illustrations features every performer at the 10th and final Homeskillet music festival in Sitka, Alaska. The set includes drawings of Seattle hip-hop artists Astro King Phoenix, DJ Indica Jones, Jarv Dee, OCnotes, RA Scion, SassyBlack, and Tay Sean.

100 record reviews (2016): Throughout 2016, Crane City committed to reviewing at least one WA state hip-hop project every week, completing more than 100 record reviews by year-end.

TOWN LOVE #1 (2017): We collected our favorite 50 reviews from the 100 reviews project and published them as a 16-page listening guide to current Seattle hip-hop. 500 copies were printed and given out to attendees at the inaugural Upstream Music Festival.

SOLAR POWER: New Sounds in Seattle Hip-Hop (2017): We collaborated with visual artist Ari Glass, journalist Jonathan Zwickel, and 14 of Seattle’s top hip-hop artists to craft a vinyl record that would celebrate and preserve the present-day sound of The Town for future generations. The record was released at The Beacon Hill Block Party. A total of 1,000 copies were pressed and sold. (This record is sold out.)

Discovered! (2017): Crane City was invited to be one of three featured judges–alongside Silas Blak and Georgio Brown–to determine a winner for the Seattle reality TV hip-hop game show Discovered! After four weeks of fierce competition, the top prize was ultimately awarded to singer and rapper CarLarans.

Find Your New Favorite Record (2017): We designed this interactive online encyclopedia containing more than 200 Seattle hip-hop albums and close to 35,000 words. Each entry is then interconnected to related projects through artists, rappers, beatmakers, featured contributors, and producers. On the first page, readers are given six randomly-generated starting points to discover more about local hip-hop. Along the way, they’ll discover bold-faced names worth clicking on, and music videos, too. This project was later rebranded as “TOWN LOVE,” expanded to 300+ record reviews, and can be found here.

Weird and Awesome (2017): Crane City was invited to speak about art-making and our involvement with Seattle hip-hop at Emmett Montgomery’s monthly Weird and Awesome event in November 2017.

The 25 Essential Seattle Hip-Hop Records of 2017 (2018): At the start of January 2018, we created an online voting platform and invited Seattle’s community of rappers, beatmakers, and producers to pick their favorite WA state hip-hop records from 2017. With 147 records in contention, close to 4,000 votes were cast. Throughout February 2018, we then counted down the top 25 projects that won widespread respect and admiration from their peers. In the end, Wizdumb’s Shadows narrowly prevailed over DoNormaal’s Third Daughter in the final tally. The top five projects were each awarded cash prizes courtesy of Crane City Music.

Using Your Creativity for Community Good (2018): Crane City was invited to talk about using the resources of design to bring about social change (and Seattle hip-hop, of course) at Amazon’s Design Breakfast event, attended by an audience of close to 500 designers working inside the company.

Top Beatmakers of The Pacific Northwest (2018): We published a series of posts on Instagram about some of the top women and queer producers currently making music throughout WA state. Positive response to this series inspired Crane City Music to release a split vinyl LP of music by Stas Thee Boss and Chong The Nomad, both of whom were included. Not long after, The Stranger featured Chong The Nomad on their cover. She talks about working with Crane City Music.

Classic Seattle Hip-Hop Night (2018): Crane City was invited to perform a spring evening of Seattle hip-hop classics (all on vinyl) at Hattie’s Hat in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.

Upstream Polaroids (2018): We shot instant film photos of every local hip-hop artist who performed at the 2018 Upstream Music Festival. These Polaroids were then photographed a second time digitally in front of the artist in realtime while they performed behind the image, creating a doubling effect, commenting on how fans often consume live shows through their phone screens. Most of the Polaroids were subsequently given to the artists at the conclusion of their set.

STAS CHONG KUNG DO (2018): Organized in partnership with Do206 and KEXP, this sold-out showcase invited all four artists appearing on that year’s Crane City Music vinyl releases–Stas Thee Boss, Chong The Nomad, Kung Foo Grip, and DoNormaal–to share the stage together at Nectar Lounge in Seattle. Billed as “Stadium Hip-Hop in an Intimate Setting,” the night featured large video projections, guest stars galore, and more. A live recording of all four performances was later released in partnership with the Town Talk podcast.

TOWN LOVE #2 (2018): The second issue of Town Love magazine featured 25 of the “most-talked-about” Seattle hip-hop records of the year. (As in, WA state records that received the most local and national press, and the most radio attention.) This listening guide to the year’s best music was sold throughout Seattle at bookstores and record shops.

Seattle Hip-Hop Foundations — 1985 to 1999 (2018): In celebration of November’s Hip-Hop History Month, we created a streaming-only Soundcloud mixtape of obscure deep cuts and forgotten Seattle classics, circa 1985 to 1999. Each track was sourced from the original vinyl or CD, and the mixtape featured everyone from Sir Mix-A-Lot to Source of Labor to Prose & Concepts to Narcotik. Listen to the playlist here.

Kung Foo Grip & Sir Mix-A-Lot (2018): In partnership with The Tractor Tavern and the performing artists, Crane City Music helped to organize and promote a sold-out Christmas concert featuring the best of old and new Seattle hip-hop.

The Town Love Hip-Hop Awards (2019): At the start of January 2019, Crane City again invited Seattle’s hip-hop community to pick their favorite WA state hip-hop records from the past year in a public vote. A total of 267 records were in contention for the top prize. A total of 5,498 votes were cast. Parisalexa’s Bloom took home the top prize, narrowly beating out Kung Foo Grip’s 2KFG and Travis Thompson’s YouGood?

The top 20 winners were revealed via an elaborate laser show countdown event held in February at the Pacific Science Center Laser Dome in Seattle. The laser show itself was choreographed by Joseph Reid and Gary Campbell. The event opened with a playlist of ’90s Seattle hip-hop and a short tribute to Sir Mix-A-Lot’s legacy. A 14-minute film of the evening was made by Taylor Hart capturing highlights from the night. Watch it here.

Crane City Music — Spring 2019 Sampler (2019): This CD featured clean radio mixes of 14 songs that appeared on the first seven Crane City Music vinyl releases, plus four CD-exclusive “Chopped-n-Sckrwd” remixes by DJ Zeta. We pressed 1,000 copies and sent them to radio stations and record stores around the world. The album spent three weeks on the national NACC College Hip-Hop Charts, peaking at #18, and for more than a month, it was the #1 most-played hip-hop record at KPFT in Houston, Texas. Listen to a playlist of songs from the CD.

Not long after the conclusion of the radio campaign, NPR did an in-depth series of articles about the music scene in Seattle, featuring many of the artists who appeared on the Sampler CD, including Chong The Nomad, DoNormaal, and Gifted Gab.

Seattle Hip-Hop’s G.O.A.T. Rappers (2019): Over the summer, on Instagram, we published in-depth profiles of 50 notable WA state rap stars from throughout 30-years of hip-hop history in The Town, with a specific focus on highlighting the contributions of women to the scene. The order of the posts was not chronological and intentionally arbitrary, leading to many assuming this was a ranked list. Consequently, the series proved unexpectedly controversial, with many critics debating the “rankings” and who was and wasn’t included.

Central Sounds CD-R (2019): In August of 2019, Crane City was invited to co-host the Central Sounds radio show on Hollow Earth Radio. We played a lengthy set of Seattle classics, circa 1993 to 2009, featuring everyone from The Ghetto Chilldren to Silver Shadow D to Merm & Mal to Khingz. This playlist was later released as a very limited-edition handmade CD-R given to close friends and acquaintances.

TOWN LOVE #3 (2019): The third issue of Town Love magazine featured 26 of the “most fascinating” Seattle hip-hop records of the year. This listening guide to the year’s best music was sold at bookstores and record shops across Seattle and was given away at shows.

The Soundtrack of Seattle (2019): This Spotify playlist contains songs from the 50 most-important albums and EPs that defined Seattle hip-hop in 2019. It was compiled and ranked using playlist and media mention data from KEXP, KUBE, The Stranger, The Seattle Times, Respect My Region, podcasts, and Spotify. Listen to the playlist here.

Music to Make Art To (2020): Inspired by a quote from Perry Porter–that he makes “music to paint to”–we created a series of crayon drawings featuring some of our favorite records from the past year while listening to those records.

The Residency Presents: The Town (2020): In the early months of the Coronavirus pandemic, when the scene was knocked sideways by the cancellation of live music events and “stay-at-home” orders, we collaborated with Macklemore’s The Residency to develop a pilot for a series of cross-generational Zoom live streams with the biggest artists from the Town. Watch the first episode here.

NEWCOMER: A Seattle Hip-Hop Mixtape (2020): This 82-minute feature film, directed by Gary Campbell, is an intimate introduction to Seattle’s vibrant hip-hop underground. It was assembled from hundreds of tiny performance clips into a single, continuous concert mosaic, and stars 93 of the top hip-hop artists from The Town. The movie was an official selection at the 2020 New York Hip-Hop Film Festival and the 2020 Golden Sneakers International Hip-Hop Film Festival in Hamburg, Germany. This November 2020 it will be screened for four weeks on Northwest Film Forum’s online theatrical screening site in honor of Hip-Hop History Month. Watch the official trailer.

Seattle Hip-Hop Window Art Gallery (2020): Crane City partnered with Sonic Boom Records and designer Jennifer Campbell to create a window art gallery, showcasing the work of the many, many predominantly Black musicians, visual artists, journalists, and creators who’ve played a vital role in making every Crane City vinyl a success. The installation was available for viewing throughout the month of August.