Seattle summer doesn't really kick in until August--let's be honest--so two of my annual Seattle summer-music rituals in dj100proof's Backyard BBQ Mixtape (due soon) and


My Summer Music Playlist: Jesse Boykins III, DJ Quik, Helluvastate, and More

Seattle summer doesn't really kick in until August--let's be honest--so two of my annual Seattle summer-music rituals in dj100proof's Backyard BBQ Mixtape (due soon) and The Physics' summer release (Love Is a Business out August 6) are still on the horizon. So until the city is ready, my summer-playlist-so-far draws from all corners: Los Angeles, New York, New Orleans, and even Massillon, Ohio. Plus a little Town Biz, of course.

1. Jesse Boykins III, Way of a Wayfarer (June 29, 2011)

Straying from the neo-soul leanings he's come to be known for, one of New York's best experimental soul vocalists (and Street Etiquette affiliate) JBIII's latest FreEP ventures more into the territory of electronica. Light and spacey, Wayfarer is a six-track EP that can easily be played end-on-end--and between the Gold Panda-produced "Back Home (Mermaids & Dragons)" and the acoustic "When Your Ready," it packs enough romanticism to satisfy even my sappy soul. His words: "I create World Soul that marks moments in time. Each time I introduce new music to my fans I want it to become a defining part of their lives as much as it is a part of mine."

2. DJ Quik, The Book of David (April 19, 2011)

Thirteen records deep, the Los Angeles hip-hop pioneer is making some of the most inventive music of his storied career--an achievement in itself. To give context on Quik's latest, I'll default to Jeff Weiss via his must-read from LA Weekly:

Like most redemption stories worth telling, this one starts with the lowest point: solitary confinement in the West Valley Penitentiary, where for most of the sweltering summer of 2006 DJ Quik contemplated the cruel arc of his rise and fall. This wasn't supposed to happen. Twenty years ago, Quik was the Piru Blooded G-Funk pioneer: a Jheri-curled, Compton-hatted, gangsta rap Apollo. He called himself "America'z Most Complete Artist" and had the chops to prove it. He produced, engineered, rapped and played guitar and keyboards. Swagger like Superfly, funk like Roger Troutman, the fearless adrenaline of Eazy-E.

3. Helluvastate, Adventures in a Helluvastate (March 22, 2011)

Comprised of Helladope's Tay Sean (now "Swan Coltraine") and State of the Artist's TH ("Thadwick Tristen Trevor III"), the duo fused the names of their other projects to form Helluvastate and created an exciting connection between two of Seattle's best hip-hop camps in Members Only and Cloud Nice--and turned it into one of the city's best hip-hop releases thus far in 2011. Tracks like "Brain Champagne" and "Fresha Adventure" prove the duo can rap, but the upbeat spaciness of tracks like "Skylife Salutations" and "Up, Yup" are perfect for cranking up with the windows cranked down.

4. Stalley, Lincoln Way Nights: Intelligent Trunk Music (February 8, 2011)

Massillon, Ohio's self-appointed "Bruce Springsteen of hip-hop" and recent Maybach Music signee Stalley is relatively fresh on the hip-hop scene, but nothing less than talented. This latest record shows him less concerned with co-signs from Damon Dash or Mos Def (both of which he's earned) than channeling small-town hardship and sincere, unique storytelling.

5. Lil B, I'm Gay (June 29, 2011)

"Yes I am gay, I'm so happy. I'm a gay, heterosexual male," says Berkely's Lil B, the world's most eccentric and outlandishly positive rapper. The production value of the 12-track record is leaps and bounds above his notoriously muddy home recordings (which didn't keep March mixtape Illusions of Grandeur from getting plenty of spins). Sounding more cohesive and coherent that ever, I'm Gay is seemingly a new incarnation of Lil B. The raps aren't always great, but that's not what the Based God does--he's nothing if not honest in his eccentricity, and dedicated to his based philosophy. And for that reason, I'm Gay is undeniably triumphant.

Honorable mentions: Curren$y, Weekend at Burnies; Blue Scholars, Cinémetropolis; Kendric Lamar, Section.80; Tyler, The Creator, Summer Camp Mix 2011.

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