In the midst of typical late winter grayness, Seattle has too many 40 degree days (word to Stringer Bell). Each passing 24-hour cycle features little in the way of anything distinguishing one from the other. A constant drizzle is a given, sun is rarely left unaccompanied without its ashen nubile companions, and the temperature is frustratingly noncommittal, simply unwilling to hit one extreme or the other, killing the possibilities afforded by either an early spring or a white winter. The February sky is the friend resigned to staying in every night, whose uninspired magnetism seems to turn more Fridays than necessary into ones spent with On Demand, resignation delivered to the night’s possibilities out of a self-imposed belief that better activities are to come at a later date — just not right now.
The dull, predictable unremarkableness is only broken by spells of the more extreme and for the last few days, when it has rained, it has poured. Fittingly, local hiphoppers have released a torrential downpour of content in the last 72 hours, including the long-awaited BAYB debut, an unannounced but welcome appearance by Vitamin D, loosies from SOTA, Sol, and Luck-One, the public valentine of Mario and Malice Sweet, and a whole mess of other stuff I’ll have to catch up with later.
In the middle of it all is a project that stands out for fitting best with the least interesting time of year. Understated, dreamy, an eye towards the renewal of life and the birth of fresh opportunities that seem to come with sunnier times, Late is a free short-length project by the Good Sin and producer 10.4Rog that captures remarkably a Northwester’s mid-winter mentality. Simply put, it’s my favorite release of the new year’s infancy, a Seattle-sounding record with a sound the city hasn’t used yet.
A lot of that is due to the keys-heavy production of 10.4Rog. It is sparse and atmospheric, never getting ahead of itself but a foot in the direction of something new. The Dilla comparisons are obvious, but I’d venture to say that his style harkens back to DJ Premier as well. His drum loops favor Premo’s steadiness to Jay Dee’s skittering eccentricities, while his frill-less chord progressions are certainly from the Gangstarr school of production but updated for a less harsh environment: instead of the tinny textures of boombox music made for cornerboys bundled up in bubble jackets, we have warmer surfaces for overcoat creatures not deterred by the weather, just wishing it was better.
The weather is out of our hands and nature will change our temporal fortunes when it will, but there is no reason to wait for the climate to bring better times when personal improvements can help greet spring with a clean slate and the beginnings of a smile ahead of time. Sinseer’s focus is on laying the foundation for a better beginning, for cutting the ties of “Bad About You,” renewing efforts on “All for You,” striving for “The Crown,” and doing it all “On My Own” while keeping integrity intact. Sin goes about his business with reserved purpose, not one to raise his force or explode with awe-inspiring displays of expertise but to shine with consistency.
His even kilter and solid flow compliment the production as both let the tracks breath, allowing space and restraint to add weight. “Do you have the strength to stand alone in a world full of clones?” the Good Sin asks on “On My Own.” His immediate response: “I do.” During a time of year where most days bleed into each other, existing as trite carbon copies of what was and what will most likely be for the interim, how those days are spent does not have to exist in a similar fashion. Late grasps such a sentiment by reappropriating it beautifully into hiphop, doing it in a way only people who have lived such months, and have lived them repeatedly, can. The sky may not have the conviction to hop off the fence and do something interesting, but the Good Sin and 10.4Rog do in spite of a climate bland with apathy, soberly preparing the fruits of their labor for spring’s blossoming blastoffs.