Our guy Caj already did a best of 2017 Hip-Hop list, now it’s time for me to dive into the local scene. Why separate them? Because we can’t accurately compare Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN, and J. Cole’s 4 Your Eyez Only, to most (if any) local releases. No shade to the locals, but on sheer numbers, budget, and production quality…it’s just not quite comparable.

A lot of lists that come from local media look like disoriented hodgepodges of cliques on Capitol Hill. People always ask me “What is your criteria for the “best?” We actually take the time to look at a few of the following factors…

  1. Quality
  2. Numbers – (we can’t deny what people are really listening to)
  3. Personal opinion – (We may not be the “typical” consumer but do we actually even like it?)

We’ve had an incredible year in Northwest Hip-Hop, seriously peep our Best of 2017 YouTube playlist at the bottom. If you made music and put on for the Northwest this year, we applaud you. Thank you for your hustle and effort towards this scene. Now, let’s a look at a few awards that Taylor and myself created as a way to further support the scene.

Best of 2017 PNW Hip-Hop

Breakout Artist

Travis Thompson – This young dude had one hell of a YEAR. He made moves that included Macklemore features, serious spins on Spotify, performances on Jimmy Fallon, and dropped numerous incredible visuals. While he caters to an audience slightly younger than Mitch’s generation, this kid is the real deal. We see big things in his immediate future.

With over 407,500 views in the past nine months, the video for Father Forgive Me was Travis Thompson’s most viewed Youtube video.

Breakout Artist Honorable Mention

Jango (Mitch’s runner-up) – Sold out shows, billboards in his city, and a cross-state hustle, is all reason why Jango is deserving of this award. He’s one of the few artists from the east side of the Cascades that has had his music make its way to Seattle. Be on the lookout for this dude in 2018, I think that will be the year he truly “breaks” out.

Koga Shabazz (Taylor’s runner-up) – Koga made his name known from the start of the year, dropping a mixtape, reaching the semi-finals of SoundOff!, and playing at Upstream Festival. He released his debut album Overtures To The Unknown later in the year, and it was both a throwback to the golden days of hip-hop and a fresh modern spin on the genre.

Most Underrated

MKF (Mitch’s pick) – The Tacoma group has clocked stupid numbers on Soundcloud, YouTube, and Facebook all year. Lil Ripp has been around for years and they actually pack out shows AND garnish support on social media. The group is raw but you really can’t deny the numbers and Ripp just has a dope sound.

Myke Bogan (Taylor’s pick) – The Portland rapper has been on the scene for a few years, and has yet to receive the praise he deserves.  His single from earlier this year, “Mango Tree,” created a vivid scene in my mind while evoking some strong emotions. Then his album, Pool Party, came out and solidified my adoration for him that most people don’t seem to understand.

Most Overlooked Artists

Mic Capes (Mitch’s pick) – If you’re in Portland, this isn’t the case, but for whatever reason Seattle music outlets continually put PNW or Northwest in their titles and leave this guy out. Like c’mon man, his Concrete Dreams album is incredible and his grind has been crazy.

Taylar Elizza Beth (Taylor’s pick) – She released Fresh Cut Flowers earlier this year, and her fresh perspective on hip-hop seems lost on the locals. Her dark and smoky voice whispers through the tracks with the confidence of a seasoned artist. Even though all the major magazines and blogs have featured her, you still don’t hear her name in the streets, or mouths of consumers.

Impressive Grind (Rapper & DJ)

WebbWavvy (Mitch’s pick) – This guy has done more shows than any other artists in 2017 sans maybe DoNormaal. He’s released countless singles, videos, features, and made the cover of our article in The Northwest Leaf. Wavvy on a wave, ask about him.

DJ Indica Jones (Taylor’s pick) – This category needed two winners. If this were a true award, Indy would probably have won it the last 7 years straight. The man spins at almost more shows than there are days in a year, and does so with an incredible attitude, love for the art, and unmatched dancing abilities.

Artist You NEED To Hear

Karma – This kid could be in multiple categories on this list. The Tri-Cities native has flaunted his rhyme skills for a few years but this year he showed creative power. His songwriting and production quality have taken serious upward steps, and alongside Justin Frick, his visual game has exploded.

Best Album

Dave B Pearl – Dave B managed to release an instant classic that captures a romantic essence. The doo-wop-esque album highlights the intricate rhyme patterns and vernacular that Dave chooses. His skills shine on songs like “Sweetest Thing” and “Scrolling.” He’ll even be headlining at the Neptune for the Pearl release party on January 27th.

Best Overall Artist

Aaron Cohen – This is a tough award to give to just one artist. We wanted to make a point to shine light on all of the artists that impressed us and Aaron told RMR he thought he was the best rapper in Seattle. After touring Europe multiple times and after reviewing each of his 2017 releases, it’s hard for us to disagree.

Best Song

Macklemore Corner Store’ ft. Travis Thompson x Dave B – We usually try to exclude Macklemore from any sort of list, as he’s operating at a slighter higher level than the rest of the Northwest in terms of budget and clout. But, this time around our brightest star has recruited two of the regions top rising talents for his latest commercial hit. This is a beautiful thing for the city of Seattle’s music scene. (And this song is catchy AF).

Best Song Honorable Mention

Macntaj “Sister” (Mitch’s runner-up) – Macntaj may be more known in the EDM world, but don’t get those Twitter fingers twisted. He can straight SPIT! Sister was one of the few ‘hip-hop’ releases from Mac but was also one of the sharpest lyrical performances we heard all year. The record shows that Macntaj has serious mainstream crossover potential.

Falon Sierra “Mr. Prez” (Taylor’s runner-up) – In the midst of the worst human being possible to take office, Falon created a song that’s not only catchy, but relatable. She performed this song live on KEXP, and it sends chills down my spine every time I listen to it. This girl is in the same vein as Badu, another SoundOff! alumni, she’s making her own path in Seattle hip-hop/RnB with messages as crucial as her talent.

“Comeback” Artist

Fatal Lucciauno (Mitch’s pick) – Not to say the skills or bars ever left, but Fatal took some time outside of the limelight. After being blackballed by the city and lurking in the shadows, he’s full force back. WTF Happened was an incredible album and one of my top releases all year.

Grieves (Taylor’s pick) – Grieves has been around for a decade now. His most popular albums being Irreversible, and 88 Keys & Counting, which were released in 2007 and ’10. Then this year he killed it with the release of Running Wild. He sold out his hometown on a national tour that included Canada, and has a European tour starting at the beginning of 2018.

Biggest Feature

D. Valley – Valley not only hit Sway to spit some rhymes, he also grabbed up both Wiz Khalifa and Project Pat for one of his singles this year. Making moves in and out of the town, D. Valley was able to pull off a single song with one of the hottest artists in the game and an OG from one of the most influential hip-hop groups of all time, Three 6 Mafia.

Most Photogenic

Gifted Gab – Originally we had ‘Lady of Leisure‘ down in the runnings for the best song, but that was released in 2016. She had a relatively quiet year for releasing music but headlined a TON of shows and killed it on social media. She could be one of the best artists of the year without releasing much music and she was one of our favorite emcees to work with this year. We did happen to do a ton of photo shoots with her and she murdered every one!

Best Live Performance

Kung Foo Grip – Masters of the stage, Kung Foo Grip sets the tone at every show. Having a duo of polar opposite personalities creates a crazy live set. Eff and Greg are able to fill in for each other bar for bar and energy wise during their sets. If this award truly existed, they would have most likely held the title for the last four years, what other performer has rapped from the hood of a cop car?

Best Music Video Director(s)

Mitch and Taylor can’t even choose

We’re not trying to start beef man, we can’t pick one over the other… Justin Frick, A Real Grip, Dyllyn Greenwood, Harry Clean, Dylan Fout, Jacob Hill, Town ENT…all these guys impressed the shit out of us this year.

Most Lit On Social Media

Rob Skeetz and Jesse James Facebook (Tie) – Talented with the music but incredibly cut the fuck up with the status updates, Mitch has almost had to block Jesse multiple times after spitting out food on his work computer during lunch breaks. Skeetz seems to casually say type the realest thoughts online and may be king of finding the funniest memes.

Nacho Picasso and UglyFrank Twitter (Tie) – Both of these guys are considered as some of the best lyricists in Seattle and Tacoma, and both may be the most flagrant/ignorant Twitter users in each city as well. Follow at your own risk.

Best of PNW 2017 – Hip-Hop YouTube Playlist