This year was like the crescendo on a decade of musical and artistic growth and development within the Pacific Northwest. Damn near every single song that was released this year was absolutely banging in their own right. You couldn’t really compare one artist to another because everybody’s music had its own personal vibe rather than a genre. It’s almost like 2019 destroyed the concept of music genres altogether. We’re seeing artists take inspiration from all over the globe and incorporate those musical elements into one project or song making for a sound that you just can’t put your finger on.
We have also entered a new era in music where streaming is king and the money comes from everything except the music itself. It’s a whole new landscape out there that has become oversaturated by the ease of access to recording equipment and distribution. This year for the 2019 Northwest Music Awards, we reached back out to Portland’s Mac Smiff, editor of We Out Here Magazine, as well as Umi Wagoner, owner of eTc Tacoma. We’ve spent hours upon hours filtering through this year’s releases to give you guys our personal standouts.
Rest In Peace
Unfortunately, a lot of lives were taken from us this year. Please, take a moment, before diving into these awards, to pay respects to those we lost. Take a moment to remind yourself that being successful, going viral and achieving fame is only worthwhile if you have loved ones to accomplish those things for. Tell the people close to you, often, that you love them and care for them. You never know when the last time you will see someone will be.
Donavyn King, under the moniker, Donny D’usse, was a young upcoming artist who was showing promise to become a highly respected talent not just in the Northwest but potentially globally as well. A memorial concert is to be held on December 20th in his honor with all proceeds going to support Donavyn’s daughters.
Dustyn Hunt-Bagby a.k.a. Prettyboi Nabii
One of the more tragic losses this year was the passing of young Dustyn Hunt-Bagby, who performed under the name Prettyboi Nabii. Dustyn was unjustly shot and killed by his girlfriend’s father who had invited him in earlier that same day. He was another young talent who showed great promise and who had the community backing him, who tragically lost his life far too soon.
Kevin Ashe aka Big Spec
Spec held a big presence and a calm demeanor. A bully on the microphone and a selfless promoter of the culture through his personal platforms and the Man Listen podcast. FUCK CANCER!
2019 Northwest Music Awards
Now, it’s time to take a look back on everything that’s happened in 2019. An incredible year, it’s been. The sounds of the Northwest managed to reach every corner of the country and have even started to build a global fanbase. It’s astounding to look back on our 2018 awards and see the progression those artists have made in just one year. Take a look at who our panel thought stood out the most for the 2019 Northwest Music Awards.
Closest To Mainstream Success
Taylor: Travis Thompson, Gifted Gab, and Parisalexa – Last year she was one of my picks for Breakout Artist of the year. This year she has amplified her success exponentially. She released a slew of stunning singles like “Water Me” and “2 Real,” signed a publishing deal with Kobalt Music Group, headlined her Femme Tape Tour with two other supremely dope artists. She also appeared on NBC’s hit show, Songland, and was featured on tracks from popular artists like Xavier Omar and the duo Tuxedo.
Hussle Of The Year
Tay: TezaTalks. Holy shit. The amount that she has accomplished this year is almost too incredible to believe. She started the year performing for just the second time on the Neumos stage during the Seattle World Tour. From there she went on to perform at Capitol Hill Block Party, Sofar Sounds and battled her way into performing on the mainstage at the AfroPunk festival in Atlanta. As well, she released her sophomore album, Apart To Chaos, which is a testament to her immense talent.
Umi: BlockRepp Shad.
Mac: 1YoungMicah, Swiggle Mandela, and Wynne.
Tay: LIVt performed at the Seattle Aquarium after-hours thanks to Darryl Crews. Shortly after that, she released her Black Girl Unbothered EP which comes close to being utterly perfect for my aural palette. Then, to cap it off, she headlined a dope ass EP release party at the Clock-Out Lounge
Umi: Baja Boy.
Mac: Parisalexa, Wynne, and Covi.
Tay: Elan Wright and Nima Skeemz. The dream team running out of Ruby Room Recordings continuously takes the local talent and helps them elevate their sound to unimaginable heights. A large majority of my favorite singles and projects that came out this year had these two involved to some degree.
Mitch: Milo Eubank, Chris Pack, Elan Wright and Nima Skeemz, and Zeb.
Umi: Blakk Soul.
Favorite Video Director(s)
Tay: Justin Frick and Chase Fade – Not only did he shoot videos for like every dope artist in the town and then some, but he also started a cypher series featuring local artists. It’s part of his Diamonds Dancing Youtube channel that highlights dope underground artists.
Umi: Jonathan Salmon, and YungTada.
Mac: Riley Brown.
Mac: Fountaine, Evil One, and Verbz.
Tay: Def Dee, OldMilk, Ike Watson, Samurai Del, Antwon Vinson, Wffls, The DGTL – Catalyst Labs Studio has been busy this year brewing with the new wave of Seattle rap cats. I’ve watched Jacob Hillard, aka The DGTL, cook up a beat in the same amount of time as it took me to order an Uber and for the driver to arrive, and it slapped too. There’s no question in my mind that 2020 will be a spectacular year for our eardrums thanks to The DGTL and all of the talented rappers who have blessed his beats.
Umi: Khris P.
Mac: Trox, Sxlxmxn, and Theory Hazit.
We could sit here all day listing off dope releases from this past year. Seriously, every artist was glowing this year. There were definitely some standouts from Perry Porter, Dave B., Travis Thompson, and Donte Thomas. But, there were also some projects that didn’t hit the spotlight that were just as good.
2019 reinforced the point that all art is subjective and just because you’re not rockin’ with it, doesn’t mean that someone else won’t think it’s the greatest piece of music ever made. With that said, here’s a list of our personal favorite releases from the past year and remember, KEEP MAKING THINGS (shoutout the inspirational director, Dylan Fout, for that catchphrase).
- Perry Porter, Bobby Ro$$
- Ellis Prescott, In Love With Heartbreak
- Bruce Leroy, “4AM” featuring Porter Ray
- LIVt, Black Girl Unbothered
- Sol, Soon Enough
- J’von, Dream Surfer
- Gifted Gab, Cause & Effect
- Macntaj, Trappy Gilmore and Trappy Gilmore 2
- Def Dee and LA, Symmetry
- Blake Anthony, Blake Anthony
- Travis Thompson, Reckless Endangerment
- MistaDC, HappyER Now
- Wffls, Nightsalone: Redwoods Vol. 1
- Travis Thompson, Reckless Endangerment
- Frenchy Oso, Apply Pressure
- Anthony Danza, BBS Diaries
- Donte Thomas, Colors
- Jay Loud, Nap Town
- Macntaj, Trappy Gilmore 2
- Perry Porter, Bobby Ro$$
- Malcolm Rebel, Malcolm
- Laza, In The Meantime
- Gifted Gab Cause & Effect
Stream The Best Northwest Artists Of 2019
From Respect My Region, eTc Tacoma, and We Out Here Magazine, and on behalf of the Pacific Northwest as a whole, to all of the artists out here: thank you. Thank you for putting your heart and soul into crafting your art for which we can enjoy.
We are not the authority to who is talented or not, simply passionate community members trying to uplift and support the incredible artists we see out here. Even if you don’t see your name listed in the 2019 Northwest Music Awards, know that we’re still rockin’ with you and want you to keep making things for the sake of making art.
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