This past weekend was one for the records. It was as if the universe was pulling bits and pieces of our journey thus far, and smashing them together all at once. Everything that CUTS represents was being presented in new forms, and to be quite honest, the art scene in Tacoma, WA is a mirror image of the dopeness I am accustomed to back on the East Coast.
The Real Art Tacoma venue is a collaborative effort in housing the fundamentals of an artistic community. From the outside, you can see the Thunderdome clothing storefront to the left and (from what I gather) a quaint record shop to the right. Here’s the kicker. Once you walk in you are greeted with a widely opened space combined with a stage in the rear quarters of the building- as I had not expected such a large venue from the outside looking in. Our first mission for the day was the Beyond Thunderdome Swap Meet where a few creatives had the opportunity to set up booths and display some of their artistic crafts and designs.
Our in-house photographer Ryan Summers and his business partner Mike Masilotti, were premiering pieces for their Pretend Living clothing co. at the swap meet. I got to meet with a fellow East Coaster (Miami) whose passion was also in clothing design, and was operating under the brand “Suburban Troublemakers“. There were painters showing their latest works as well as some of the dopest arts and crafts merchandise I have ever seen in person. A random assortment of spectators walked from table to table, and the lucky few had the chance to make some well deserved cash from their creations.
I wandered from booth to booth, checking out the niche of each table and conversing about their brands and expertise. As the night grew old, Tom and Alex (Owners of Thunderdome) instructed those in attendance to help move the tables towards the wall, and clear the floor out for the next part of the night. Soon enough there were two kegs entering the shop, and being the ALL AGES venue that it is, green wristbands were slapped on to those born before ’95, and we were told to keep the brews inside the parameters of the shop.
The crowd itself grew into a live bunch of artists and fashion folk, who showed love to everyone who attended the Swap Meet, and chatted about the upcoming HipHop Event that was about to proceed in the back.
Perry Porter of “Sleep Steady”
CDVSHZ of “Sleep Steady”
I finally found the dope hiphop in Washington State. I have been searching for the essence of bars and head-knock beats, and Tacoma blew me away with flying colors. It was the realness of hearing people actually rapping and not just dancing around or slacking in the lyrical sense. It may have still been early, but rap group Sleep Steady brought energy to the party- hopping off of the stage and into the pit towards the tail-end of their set, and literally had everyone in the crowd bouncing around. Everyone in the venue was amp’d, chanting “Who the f*ck want war?” as the chorus of their dope single banged out the sound system.The Peazant Boys also took the stage, dropping the versatile creativity that they are known for. Spitting back and forth commanding the audience with revel, and flowing with brilliant structure.
The highlight of the night (for me at least) was to finally see Ugly Frank (ILLFIGHTYOU). The past few months I have been bumping “CashInTheBathroom” in my DT770 Pro’s, and literally have given “Bleeding” a million listens by now. It was cool how it all connected that night. Between the Fashion of the Beyond Thunderdome Swap Meet, the HipHop performances that followed, and the creative culture as a whole coming together and getting buck, was an amazing time. It’s that “Where have I been this whole time” feeling combined with thinking about the next time I’ll be back.
Tacoma. Where HipHop Lives in the PNW.