Before the popularization of mindless, cartoony, ultra violent West Coast gangsta rap, the foundation of early ‘90s hip-hop was politically aware, East Coast folk. Washington lads Ryan Abeo (RA Scion) and the Blue Scholars’ Sabzi bonded in their coffee riddled hometown over their mutual respect for socially responsible classic rap, for Bahá’í Faith, and for each other back in 2004. Shortly thereafter, their self-titled Common Market debut added a key log to the perennial fire that is Seattle’s music scene.
One of their goals is to turn Seattle into the Bay area North, and their latest effort Black Patch War is certainly a step in that direction. Scion’s flow is liquid, with superb word choice and breath control, while anyone who has heard Rawkus’ Blue Scholars knows Sabzi’s old-school soul fueled beats easily rival those of 9th Wonder. Lyrically, Scion spins into rhyme the struggle of independent farmers against Big Tobacco and progressive minds finding their place outside the Old Church in the face of its unwillingness to adapt. He attacks complicated subject, but his delivery and smooth beats make them easy to digest. While it may never be on MTV, this is the kind of hip-hop that creates actual positive change.