A History of Hip Hop in Seattle
- PUBLISHED: November 2020
- SUBJECT LISTING: Pacific Northwest / Art and Culture, African American Studies, Performing Arts, Music
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 320 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 24 b&w illus., 1 map
- ISBN: 9780295747569
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
From the first rap battles in Seattle’s Central District to the Grammy stage, hip hop has shaped urban life and the music scene of the Pacific Northwest for more than four decades. In the early 1980s, Seattle’s hip-hop artists developed a community-based culture of stylistic experimentation and multiethnic collaboration. Emerging at a distance from the hip-hop centers of New York City and Los Angeles, Seattle’s most famous hip-hop figures, Sir Mix-A-Lot and Macklemore, found mainstream success twenty years apart by going directly against the grain of their respective eras. In addition, Seattle has produced a two-time world-champion breaking crew, globally renowned urban clothing designers, an international hip-hop magazine, and influential record producers.
In Emerald Street, Daudi Abe chronicles the development of Seattle hip hop from its earliest days, drawing on interviews with artists and journalists to trace how the elements of hip hop—rapping, DJing, breaking, and graffiti—flourished in the Seattle scene. He shows how Seattle hip-hop culture goes beyond art and music, influencing politics, the relationships between communities of color and law enforcement, the changing media scene, and youth outreach and educational programs. The result is a rich narrative of a dynamic and influential force in Seattle music history and beyond.
Emerald Street was made possible in part by a grant from 4Culture’s Heritage Program.
Authors & Contributors
Daudi Abe is professor of humanities at Seattle Central College and author of 6 ‘N the Morning: West Coast Hip-Hop Music 1987–1992 and the Transformation of Mainstream Culture.
[W]hat Abe is up to here is well worth a read if you’re interested in Seattle music and history. As he dips into various facets of the scene through the decades, Seattle hip-hop’s identity emerges—intelligent, idiosyncratic, progressive, diverse in population and sound, often needlessly self-effacing.- Seattle Metropolitan Magazine
Abe is the real deal. The scholarship in this book is of enormous value to our city.- The Stranger
A considerable strength of the book is how it consistently grounds hip-hop in Seattle’s racial politics. As a result, hip-hop becomes a critical lens to approach and even contest Seattle’s reputation as a progressive city... Emerald Street makes an invaluable contribution to hip-hop studies, urban studies, and Seattle racial politics.- Western Historical Quarterly
Daudi Abe literally wrote the book on Seattle hip-hop... an essential document spanning 40 years of Seattle history.- Seattle Times
Daudi is able to capture the diverse, uncategorizable Seattle milieu and its strong sense of community and longevity.- Choice
A well-rounded narrative that allows readers from anywhere to get a true sense of Seattle flavor. What is Seattle flavor? The uniqueness of being yourself.- from the foreword by Sir Mix-A-Lot
Emerald Street will make a significant contribution toward recognizing the importance of Seattle artists in the history-making moments of hip hop musical arts.- Cheryl Keyes, author of Rap Music and Street Consciousness
A vital and long overdue survey of how this great city in the Pacific Northwest sampled and remixed an art form born on the East Coast and made it their own. Abe has crafted a work that not only presents hip hop in Seattle, but also is the biography of a community that learned how to win on its own terms.- Kevin Powell, author of 14 books including When We Free the World and a forthcoming biography of Tupac Shakur
The places and personalities that nurtured the Seattle hip-hop scene are beautifully rendered and Abe has a keen and learned sense of what matters and why. This is hip-hop history at its finest.- Murray Forman, Northeastern University