The Tri-Cities hip-hop scene started much later than the scene in Tacoma. Perhaps the first time people took note of it was around 1995, because of a compilation Shao Sosa was on. Shao (formerly known as Shaolin) is basically the father of Tri-Cities hip-hop. In the late '90s he released another compilation and his first solo album from the Tri-Cities - a rough-and-tumble region of our state if ya'll didn't know. Just like the streets of Tacoma, many young people get caught up in a criminal lifestyle in the Tri-Cities. This is Shao's story. He even had to go on a little "vacation," if ya know what I mean.
After serving his time there was nothing left for Shao to do in the Tri-Cities - he was already the biggest artist in that area. So he moves to Tacoma for a fresh start and with some positive motivation. Now he's tackling our scene.
Shao's second full-length solo album, The Gateway Drug, is a well-put-together project. The only collaborating name on it most will recognize is Illizm. Shao has a grimy-gruff flow but he speaks on all the familiar West Coast topics. The production is West Coast gangsta with a little radio appeal thrown in. My favorite track is the first song, "Hello Again." This beat stands out. It has an ill Mafioso-funk thing going on with the strings. Shao recently opened for Mistah F.A.B. in the Tri-Cities. Ya can buy his album on all major digital-distribution music websites. He also has hard copies if ya catch him in the street.
Another major release in the 253 is coming from Tha Syndicate. S.Q. and C-Note are twins and they've been working on this project for at least five years. It's a big album with lots of guests, including Neema, Soprano, Certified/Luni Coleone, Mr. D.O.G., Doughkain and Outrageous. A lot of the production was done by J.Bre. This should make for an interesting mix, with J.Bre's more boom-bap beats mixing with Tha Syndicate's classic street rhymes. With all those features I'm sure there's something on the album for all. Get it at reverbnation.com/thasyndicate. Catch Tha Syndicate on the Fourth of July at the Backstage Bar and Grill performing with Crazy8.
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