St. James Encyclopedia of Hip-Hop Culture

March 17th, 2018 | Category: Announcements

I contributed several entries to the St. James Encyclopedia of Hip-Hop Culture, including ones on Gangsta Rap, Horrorcore, Rap Metal, and 1500 words on the hip-hop scene in my beloved Pacific Northwest, where I first lived from 1993 to 1998 (and three other times after). Here’s an excerpt from the latter:

Underground Hip Hop nationwide saw a resurgence during the mid-to-late 1990s. Having remained primarily underground since its inception, Pacific Northwest Hip Hop soldiered on… Wordsayer (Jonathan Moore, 1969-2017) formed the group Source of Labor in 1989. After moving back to Seattle in 1992, Moore, along with members of Source of Labor and soul group Beyond Reality, formed Jasiri Media group. “The artists in Jasiri forced the Seattle hip hop scene to move from the grandiose, self-aggrandizing rap of Sir Mix-a-Lot to a more educated, meaningful form of musical expression” (Key, 2010, p. 294). Fighting the Teen Dance Ordinance, which had all but killed all-ages events in Seattle since its implementation in 1985, Moore promoted “Sure Shot Sundays” in 1999 to open up possibilities for local youth to experience and perform Hip Hop. He passed away at age 47 in March of 2017 of kidney failure.

Labels like Loose Groove, Do the Math, Impact Entertainment, and Conception Records released definitive compilations showing and proving that the Pacific Northwest’s underground was rife with intriguing and engaging Hip Hop artists in the 1990s. 14 Fathoms Deep: Seattle Hip Hop Compilation (Loose Groove 1997) featured Source of Labor, the Ghetto Children, and Prose and Concepts. Do the Math (Tribal Music, 1998) featured Wordsayer, DJs Topspin, B-Self, and Vitamin D, and three tracks by the Ghetto Children. Classic Elements (Impact Entertainment, 1998) boasted Ghetto Children’s love letter to classic Hip Hop, “Hip Hop Was?” Walkman Rotation (Conception Records, 1998) was a DJ-blended mixtape, a form popular in the underground at the time, mixed by J-Rocc of the Beat Junkies. Other local DJs include Vitamin D, B-Mello, and Topspin.

This massive, 500-page encyclopedia of all-thing hip-hop is out now!


Key, Rachel. 2010. From the SEA to the PDX: Northwest Hip Hop in the I-5 Corridor. In Mickey Hess (Ed.), Hip-Hop America: A Regional Guide. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Press, pp. 287-314.

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