Bruce Leroy’s (North)West Coast Hip-Hop

The Tacoma rapper’s latest makes a case for the PNW’s inclusion in the West Coast rap canon.

I’m from Tacoma, but man, fuck that,” rapper Darnell Hill—better known by his stage name Bruce Leroy—tells me in the back office of Tacoma’s ETC Boutique. “I go everywhere. I got homies that live everywhere. I’ve traveled to different places, so it’s not necessarily about Tacoma. If you listen to Home, everybody can relate.”

Leroy is returning to the hip-hop scene after a hiatus following his 2014 release 10 Feet. His new record, Home, out this Friday, is both lyrically and sonically an ode to his regional roots. “We are the West Coast,” he explains. “It’s not just Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and Southern California. It’s Tacoma, it’s Portland, it’s the Bay.”

Home plays on Hill’s desire for the Pacific Northwest to be included in the West Coast canon. The instrumentals, produced by 1st Born, carry a golden-age feel with boom-bap drums at the core of his funky rhythms. Leroy’s sense of connection to the Coast also plays out in “If It Wasn’t for the West 2.” On first take, the whole premise of the song might go over your head, but a concentrated listen will help you decipher a hip-hop Holy Grail dedicated to a myriad of West Coast influences hidden in every line.

“If you just like the beat, and you’re saying ‘Streets is a mutha, blood is thicker than water/I’m conscious of my daughter, and this is for La Raza,’ and you just thought that sounded good, then that’s dope,” Leroy laughs, explaining that Streets Is a Mutha is a Kurupt album, Blood Is Thicker Than Water is a Mack 10 album and movie, and “This is for La Raza” is a Kid Frost song.

Leaving ETC, Leroy and I take a brief ride through Tacoma to listen to the music Hill is working on with Seattle Sub Pop signee Porter Ray. On Home, the duo comes together on the opening track, the Kendrick Lamar-referencing “Blacker the Bury.” The track explores issues of violence within urban communities. “Boyz ’n the hood be careful,” Hill warns in his verse. “What if Ricky lived to play for Pete Carroll?” Their distinct styles mesh impeccably—Porter with his sleek poetic flow and laid-back delivery, Hill with a flow that’s poetic in its own right, but with an edge of aggression delivered more like spoken word.

Through featuring local artists such as Ray, Home does more than just pay homage to West Coast classics. By connecting the dots between Seattle, Tacoma, and the larger West Coast context, the record attempts to add to the canon as well. Leroy teams with Khris P of Tacoma’s ILLFIGHTYOU on “Don’t Blow It,” the project’s lone stoner track. He brings Seattle native and Moor Gang general Jarv Dee into the fold on “6 to 10,” a six-minute track carried by wavy melodies and sparse hi-hats splashing in the background. “Really,” Leroy laughs at the end of our chat, “[the] overall theme is bars. I’m barring out on this muthafucka.” West Coast or East Coast, you can’t argue with that.

soundcloud.com/bruceleroymusic

More in Music

Musicians Rally for a Free #SaveTheShowbox Concert at City Hall

The event corresponds with the City’s public land use hearing regarding expanding the Pike Place Market Historic District.

Angel Olsen: Always worth a closer inspection. Photo by Taylor Boylston
The Bare Bones of Angel Olsen

Seattle Weekly chats with the reflective singer-songwriter ahead of her Seattle solo show.

Album Premiere: Lizzie Weber – ‘You’

The Seattle folk singer-songwriter pens potent and poetic breakup songs on her new EP.

Labor Day weekend, Bumbershoot style.
A Look Back at Bumbershoot 2018

Thoughts and photos to recap the annual extravaganza.

Knife Knights emerges from the woods to play its first public live set at Bumbershoot. Photo by Justin Henning
Bumbershoot 2018 Picks

Music headliners, comedians, and local favorites: These are the acts to seek out at this weekend’s festivities.

Best of Seattle 2018: Arts & Entertainment

Best Musical Act Thunderpussy After years, 2018 finally (finally!) saw Thunderpussy put… Continue reading

Jessica McKenna and Zach Reino get a touch melodramatic about not needing a script for Off Book: The Improvised Musical podcast. Photo by Robyn Von Swank
‘Off Book’: Silly Story Singing Sans Script

The Broadway-worthy hijinks of ‘Off Book: The Improvised Musical’ podcast come to Bumbershoot.

Whitney Ballen Is a ‘Shooting Star’

The destinctive-voiced Isaquah singer-songwriter comes into her own on her new album ‘You’re a Shooting Star, I’m a Sinking Ship.’

Death Cab for Cutie Doesn’t Connect on ‘Thank You For Today’

While it’d be a fine record for most bands, the group’s new album falls short of its own standard thanks to questionable production and sequencing decisions.

Eddie Vedder at an earlier 2018 Pearl Jam show. Photo by Raph_PH/Flickr
Pearl Jam As Rock Archivists

The Home Shows at Safeco Field weren’t about the band’s legacy, but that of the genre as a whole.

Photo by Josh Kelety
City Council Passes Temporary Historic Protection for The Showbox

With a lively crowd on hand, the Council unanimously voted to delay any demolition of the venue by 10 months.

The 10 Best Moments From SPF30

A look back at the high points of Sub Pop’s 30th anniversary blowout.