Illustrations by Andrew Savoie

Diogenes and Remember Face Reflect the Exciting Spectrum of Contemporary NW Hip-Hop

At their joint album-release party, sample a distinctive but broadening regional sound.

Seattle is rainy and cold,” producer Dax Edword, aka Diogenes, tells me on the back patio at The Station Café. He glances down at the wool shirt he’s wearing under his Gore-Tex jacket. “I was at Lo-Fi one night, and there was, like, 12 cats standing outside in a cypher, raining, freezing, passing a blunt, freestyling. I was like, ‘This is what Seattle hip-hop is.’ ” The moment inspired the name of Diogenes’ latest record, Goretex and Wool, a beautifully constructed musical portrayal of winter in the Pacific Northwest. The general idea behind it, according to Edword, was to make a project that spoke to the hip-hop heads in town who brave the conditions to enjoy the music.

Edword, who has become a central organizing force for a swath of the local hip-hop community, is gearing up for a joint album release with Andrew Savoie and Chimaroke Abuachi of new duo Remember Face, whose self-titled debut LP has similarly chilly, Northwestern touches. The party’s smashing lineup is a showcase of the area’s brightest young talent, including DoNormaal, Raven Matthews, Brakebill and Astro King Phoenix (just to name a few). The bill is certain to draw local hip-hop fans, but the two albums at its center are more than worth your attention as well.

If Edword’s intention was to reflect his environment, the all-instrumental Goretex and Wool certainly captures snippets of Northwest winter nights. On “Ghost Party,” the intro’s grainy undercurrent feels like mud sloshing under boots. The subtle drums and overcast synths are reminiscent of sitting next to a window watching the gray sky as raindrops fall. There’s a reason for that indoor feeling: “I didn’t use any samples,” Edword says of the song. “All the percussion was me clinking shit together—crinkling paper and smacking wood with pencils and pens. I was really just experimenting a whole bunch.”

Remember Face plays like a series of masterfully crafted vignettes. Savoie’s experimental soundtrack, which sounds like music for a suspense thriller filtered through a hip-hop lens, blends seamlessly with Abuachi’s supernatural storytelling style. The album’s highlight is the latter’s versatility as an MC—he shape-shifts through styles and cadences, creating the illusion that several artists appear on tracks when in actuality it’s usually just him. As an artist he compares himself to Mystique from the X-Men; listening to “Invaders,” where he runs through three distinct vocal styles, Mystique is certainly a fair comparison.

“I used to bump a lot of Oldominion and they reminded me of X-Men,” Abuachi says, referencing one of the Northwest’s largest hip-hop crews. “There was so many of them, but they all had their own style, and they were very different. I just like that philosophy.”

Both records hold true to their Northwest roots in their own ways: Remember Face pays homage to a hometown powerhouse by way of a supercharged MC condensing a multitude of vocal personas into one being, while Goretex and Wool works as an impressionistic ode to hip-hop heads huddled in the rain, smoking blunts and spitting bars. But the joint-release party shows what’s truly best about the current Northwest hip-hop scene—artists joining forces to keep the community strong. Diogenes and Remember Face Album Release Party. Fred WildlifeRefuge, 128 Belmont Ave. E. $5. 21 and over. 9 p.m. Thurs., Oct. 27.

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