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Common Market

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Album Review

Mention Seattle to a hip-hop head, and one is likely to think of pop-rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot as well as the various gangsta rappers who have come out of Seattle or nearby Takoma, WA. But Common Market — a Seattle-based hip-hop duo consisting of rapper RA Scion and producer/DJ Sabzi — doesn't sound anything like either of the above. Instead, this 2005 release favors alternative rap with a conscious outlook — conscious as in Blackalicious, Common (the Chicago MC who used to go by Common Sense), Dilated Peoples, Pete Miser, and the Roots, conscious as in Gang Starr, Boogie Down Productions, and Blastmaster KRS-One. When Scion busts rhymes that are both spiritual and sociopolitical, it is clear that he has spent a lot of time savoring BDP classics like "My Philosophy" and "You Must Learn." But Scion isn't as angry as KRS, let alone Public Enemy or Paris — and even though Common Market is clearly a part of alt rap, Common Market doesn't have the quirkiness and eccentricity that some alt rappers are known for (De La Soul, the Pharcyde, Digable Planets, and A Tribe Called Quest, for example). The conscious vibe is present throughout the album, which is devoid of the thuggishness and gangsta-isms that permeated so much hip-hop (both Northern and Southern, both East Coast and West Coast) in 2005. Is Common Market groundbreaking by early 2000s standards? No; but regardless, this is a quality album. Common Market provides respectable alt rap that — although not overly original — is worth checking out if one fancies intellectual MCs like KRS, Common, Gang Starr, and Blackalicious. [The 2006 edition features one bonus remix.]


Formed: 2005 in Seattle, WA

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '00s

Entering the hip-hop arena in an almost-forgotten fashion, the MC-and-the-DJ tag team Common Market has been pegged as leaders of Seattle's new-school rap movement. MC RA Scion and DJ Sabzi have received rave reviews locally, landing in the Seattle Times' artists-to-watch list in 2006, appearing on the front cover of Sound Seattle magazine's September 2006 issue, and obtaining the personal endorsement of hip-hop pioneer KRS-One as an exceptional up-and-coming group. Sabzi, a classically trained pianist...
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