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Tracing Seattle's hip hop roots

caption: Pioneering Seattle hip hop group Emerald Street Boys
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Pioneering Seattle hip hop group Emerald Street Boys
photo courtesy James Croone

Hip hop culture is ubiquitous—in Seattle and around the world. But 40 years ago, a local group called Emerald Street Boys were hip hop pioneers.

The musicians got together in 1981 and performed at venues around the city, from house parties to large cultural celebrations. They paved the way for other local artists; everyone from Sir Mix a Lot to Thee Satisfaction.

Starting Saturday, May 16, Seattle organizations Langston and Wa Na Wari will team up to trace the evolution of local hip hop in a weekly series of live-stream shows called 2(06) The Break.

Series curator Jazmyn Scott chose pairs of DJs to spin music each week in response to various themes. Their pre-recorded sets will be presented in a live stream with commentary from guest experts: historians and hip hop presenters who will put the music into context for the audience.

Segments will examine hip hop decade by decade, women in hip hop, and other specific topics including a celebration of Juneteenth. The series kicks off with a show called The Founders. DJs Vitamin D and U. Moore (son of hip hop pioneers Jonathan Moore and Erika White) will choose the tunes. They’ll be joined by guest commentators DeVon Manier, co-founder of SportnLife Records, and James Croone, an original Emerald Street Boys member.

The series will stream on Zoom. Find more information here.

Also this weekend, check out Seattle Children’s Theatre’s regular Friday night storytelling series “Ghost Light Stories,” a chance to gather around the virtual campfire with the entire family.

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