Various Artists

Seattle...The Dark Side

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When a music lover thinks of Seattle in the early 1990s, the word that immediately comes to mind is "grunge." It was Seattle, after all, that gave us Nirvana and Pearl Jam, the bands that did the most to make major labels realize that alternative rock could be commercially viable. But as important as grunge was, it was hardly the only worthwhile music coming out of Seattle at the time. The city also had a noteworthy rap scene; although it might not have been considered a major-league player in hip-hop รก la New York, L.A., Oakland, or Philadelphia, it was noteworthy just the same. With Sir Mix-A-Lot (Seattle's most famous rapper), Rick Rubin, and Ricardo Frazer serving as executive producers, Seattle: The Dark Side takes an enjoyable look at some of the Seattle hip-hoppers and detours into urban contemporary and spoken word. The album's highlights range from Mix's infectious "Just Da Pimpin' in Me" and E-Dawg's groovin' "Drop Top" (which samples the Gap Band's "Outstanding") to Jay-Skee's gritty "12 Gauge" and Kid Sensation's catchy "Flava You Can Taste." R&B group 3rd Level has a likable slow jam in "Show You," but the album's strongest track is Jazz Lee Alston's "Love ... Never That," a disturbing spoken-word account of a woman's relationship with a man who abuses her physically and emotionally. Generally decent and occasionally excellent, Seattle: The Dark Side is worth picking up if you come across a copy.

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