In the editorial, author Andrew Matson paints a cynical picture of the hometown hero Scholars secularizing themselves by aligning with an East Coast record label and disconnecting from the otherwise vibrant Seattle hiphop scene:
Amid the confusion, what's certain is that Seattle, overwhelmingly white and educated, has an inferiority complex over its hiphop scene. We've long had a tendency to intellectualize the music, assuming "real" hiphop lives in NYC or elsewhere. That the Emerald City celebrates the Scholars and the Mass Line record label while largely ignoring its own vibrant gangsta scene, for instance, shows a prejudice toward the East Coast, true-school sound. Innovation and originality—developing a real "Seattle sound"—are therefore a lower priority to local artists. From KRS-One's endorsement of Common Market to the Scholars' Rawkus signing, Seattle's dependence on outside validation has hurt its homegrown scene.
The Stranger actually has a history of writing overtly supportive articles about the Scholars' rise to local fame. I'm not sure if this article was published to create an aura of subjectivity, so as not to make The Stranger look like a bedfellow with the Scholars, like it is with KEXP, or if the conglomeration of local hiphop artists to the Mass Line label (and the label's agreement with NY-based Rawkus Records) is too commercial for The Stranger to openly support.
Either way, this editorial is off point. Realistically, the Blue Scholars can't acheive the national platform they seek by remaining entirely dependent on the local hiphop community. Common Market wouldn't have achieved its success so quickly without the endorsement of KRS-One. Hip hop originated in New York, and all hip hop roads lead back home.
I suggest Matson read Friedman's book. The world is flat, and utilizing resources outside a local economy is no longer just wise, but necessary for any business, including artistic ventures. The resources for hiphop artists aren't here, nor will they ever be. Matson is silly to suggest that the Scholars, or any music group, can continue to be a creative, productive force without capital. These guys can only go so long working second jobs to pay the bills, especially when trying to drive the fledgling Mass Line record label, which I'm sure is not offering benefits or retirement plans right now.
All that said, all press is good press, and this editorial should further drive the buzz about the upcoming release of the Scholars' Bayani album, which will be available at their CD release shows at the Showbox May 11 and 12 and in stores nationwide June 12.
1. Baha'i Healing Prayer (intro)
2. Second Chapter
3. Opening Salvo
4. North by Northwest
5. Ordinary Guy
6. Still Got Love
9. Fire for the People
10. Xenophobia (interlude)
11. The Distance
12. Back Home
13. 50 Thousand Deep
14. Morning of America
15. Joe Metro