Nocturnal Rage

Nocturnal Rage

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When many rap fans think of Seattle, the first thing that comes to mind is Sir Mix-A-Lot and Nastymix Records (the small independent label that Mix recorded for before he signed with Def American in 1991). In the '80s and '90s, Mix was Seattle's most commercially successful rapper, but Mix would be the first to tell you that he was never typical of Emerald City MCs -- Mix felt that he tended to appeal to a rock/dance/urban audience more than hip-hop's hardcore. When Nastymix folded, it left a void in Seattle's rap scene, but inevitably, new Seattle-based indies came along and reminded listeners that not everything from the Pacific Northwest is alternative rock. One company that started documenting Seattle's hip-hop scene in the early 2000s was Noc on Wood, and the trio Nocturnal Rage was among the signings. Nocturnal Rage's self-titled debut album is hardcore rap with a strong West Coast flavor, which doesn't automatically mean that it's strictly gangsta rap. Although this CD is full of profanity and employs plenty of baller/player/hustler imagery -- there's even a track called "Playa, Hustla, Baller" -- Rage's lyrics aren't all that violent. Ultimately, this is an R-rated party album, and jams like "Summertime in Seattle" and "Bounce" have plenty of funk/soul appeal. One thing Rage has in common with a lot of California MCs is a healthy appreciation of '70s funk/soul grooves; "Miss Mary Jane," for example, recalls Rick James' 1978 hit and even features the veteran funkster himself. Rage's debut isn't revolutionary or groundbreaking, but it's a decent and lively (if slightly uneven) document of Seattle's most-'90s, post-Nastymix rap scene.

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