Photo by Fiction

Luna God’s ‘LGEP 2’ Is a Brilliant Showcase for Seattle’s Promising Hip-Hop Up-and-Comers

Each of the producer’s inventive tracks playfully highlights the vocalists’ unique strengths.

Luna God’s LGEP 2: Day and Night is something like a sampler album for the Seattle hip-hop vanguard’s freshman class.

“There’s so much talent in this city, so much new talent, so much young talent, it’s crazy,” the Seattle producer—real name, Caleb Talbert—tells me. “It’s exciting. Even just outside of the city, Federal Way, Kent, there are so many musicians doing dope shit.”

In the works since June, Talbert’s new six-track LGEP 2 could stand strongly on its own with just the bare instrumentals, expressive in their own right. A leap past his first LGEP, they’re tightly produced and consistently surprising, weaving in and out of unexpected, inventive choruses, left-field codas, and dynamic tonal shifts. But Talbert’s true success is in pairing up-and-coming singers and MCs from the region with tracks that deftly highlight their unique, individual strengths.

“These are all homies, all friends,” Talbert says of the record’s nine guest vocalists, their appearances the result of an increasingly connected cadre of hip-hop crews and collectives in town, whom he met going to recurring hip-hop shows at The Central Saloon, the Crocodile Back Bar, Vermillion, Moksha, Love City Love, Re-bar, Kremwerk and parties like Night Shift. “I had a group of people in mind I wanted to be on the project, and when I settled on the six songs, I thought, ‘OK, who would fit on what, stylistically?’ ”

As its title suggests, the album is split evenly between “day” and “night,” the first half full of “bright club songs” and the latter “something you’d listen to before you go to sleep.” “Booty Bounce,” with its skittering M.I.A.-style hand drums and slinky, sinuous rhythm, builds a standout stage for 22-year-old Seattle hip-hop/pop vocalist ZELLi, who slays the track by bringing a 2000s club workout energy that would make Rye Rye proud. (ZELLi just dropped her own new Solid EP last Friday—also definitely worth a listen.)

On the flip side, Talbert embraces negative space on one of the EP’s more brilliant tracks, “Managing,” constructed of a fluttering, breathy synth whirr, the occasional snare snap, and an understated dance-hall chorus. West Seattle’s Taylar Elizza Beth, who impressed us last month with her new single “Daisies,” is an impeccable fit for the song. St. Vincent’s Annie Clark once said that “Confidence is like leaning back,” and Elizza Beth’s arresting hush is a testament to that. There’s a sage-like assuredness in her whispered vocal melodies that exhibits an artistic maturity beyond her years.

The other highlight on LGEP2 is Talbert’s tonal adventurousness as a producer—on opener “Night Out,” Seattle rapper Campana dutifully bounces along as the song’s synth stabs suddenly morph into MIDI harp, sampled screams, and what sounds like sea-lion barks. It’s bizarre and surreal, and it totally works.

“I feel like the new Seattle sound is ‘Do whatever the hell you want,’ ” Talbert says.

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