Tag Archives: Common Market

Victor Shade: Seattle’s hip hop superhero


Ryan Abeo is suffering an identity crisis, but it’s not what you think.

The heavily tatted, bearded and pierced MC is best known as Ra Scion of Common Market, one of the few Seattle hip hop groups that tours nationally. He’s one of the most visible figures in local hip hop and he’s transforming the identity he’s forged for himself as the socially conscious rhyme-spitting Common Market frontman into Victor Shade, a cape-wearing, world-saving superhero that’s getting released onto the masses Saturday when the Victor Shade album is released.

Musically, the Victor Shade material shows a harder, more visceral side of Abeo’s pointed and aware rhymes which are accompanied by slick production that conjures up aural imagery of superhuman feats. The name of Abeo’s new MC alter ego comes from the Marvel Comics character The Vision, an android that is a member of the superhero collective called The Avengers. The Vision’s alias is Victor Shade.

“It’s definitely rooted in a concept and that concept comes from in the comic. Ultimately it is about an identity struggle. You have the alter ego of the super hero which is Victor Shade and you have the superhero which is The Vision,” Abeo said about main theme of the Victor Shade record. “With great power comes great responsibility and at some point and time you say you don’t want that responsibility, you just want to be a regular dude. You don’t want to be The Vision; you just want to be Victor Shade. So it’s about that internal struggle. It’s about being a part of this (superhero) world in a bad way and recognizing your superhuman strengths, if you will. That’s what makes us spiritual beings I think. We all possess this superhuman capacity and that’s what we call spirituality.” Continue reading

CHBP: Common Market, Black Whales, The Pharmacy, Head Like A Kite

This marks my first year attending the Capitol Hill Block Party and upon arrival I was impressed by two things: 1) The number of vendors that were crammed into such a small area and 2) that I was able to find a parking space on 12th and Pine, right next to the outer perimeter of CHBP.

Here is what I heard and saw taken directly from the pages of my notebook:

4:20 The first band I caught was Black Whales over at King Cobra, which was a 21+ stage. The local band had a pretty generic indie rock sound, but that’s not to say they sounded bad. In fact, the sound at King Cobra was pretty good, rivaling that of Neumos, another 21+ club stage for CHBP, across the street. I arrived late and was only able to catch one of Black Whales’ songs, so I will pass on further criticism. But if I had to label the band’s sound I would stick with the generic indie garage rock tag.

4:35 Common Market’s Ra Scion, one of the slickest MCs spitting rhymes in Seattle, took the main stage rapping over Lil Wayne’s “A Milli.” The bass was booming from the main stage’s sound system, which made it difficult to make out what the socially conscious rapper was saying, but from where I was standing it sounded like a freestyle

At times Ra Scion’s words were swallowed up by the massive sound system, but that didn’t seem to bother the crowd, which continued to grow throughout the main stage as Common Market’s set. Block Partiers were eating up the fresh, intellectual offerings of Ra Scion and showing their appreciation with hands waving, heads bobbing and bodies moving everywhere. The group delivered tracks for its self-titled debut as well as the recently released EP “Black Patch War” and the title track to their sophomore record “Tobacco Road.”

5:00 The Pharmacy is the first band of the day that impresses me. Simply put, The Pharmacy is a straight shot of rock ‘n’ roll with no chaser. The group’s straight-ahead approach of loud guitars, driving rhythms and catchy melodies is undeniably awesome. If you combine early The Who with The Strokes you’re pretty close to this stellar Seattle band’s style.

5:30 Aside from taking their name from a Shins song, I know nothing about Head Like A Kite, but my buddy is really, really into their new record so we dropped into Neumos to check them out. The first thing we notice is some goofy looking guy on stage dancing while singing backup vocals. He was definitely taking away from the band’s ethereal sonic textures and melodies.

After one song the dancing dude (who kind of looked like an awkward cross between Chester Bennington and Quentin Tarantino) left the stage and now it is just the drummer and guitar player making noises with an assist from an electronic loop-making device. From where I was standing I thin I saw a keyboard on stage too.

The singer picked up a telephone receiver and sang into it for a song. The created an echoey, electronic vocal effect that fit naturally over the droning electronic loop. Unfortunately the loud, repetitive electronic noises got old fast and I found myself wanting to head out of the dark confines of Neumos and into the sunny outdoors. We stayed for the rest of HLAK’s set and my friend informs me he was disappointed because they didn’t play anything off their new album that he recognized.

My most recent trip to the record store

I was in Seattle yesterday and whenever I make a trip west of the mountains I always try to drop in to an indie record store. You wouldn’t believe how frustrating it is being a music journalist living in a city where there aren’t any decent record stores within 100 miles or so. All I can say is thank goodness for iTune and Amazon. But for every Amazon or iTunes purchase I try to balance out the negative effect it may have on local record shops by picking up music from a Sonic Boom, Easy Street, Everyday Music or other brick and mortar indie shop.

Anyway, I dropped into Sonic Boom in Ballard Monday and snagged myself some tunes. Here’s what I picked up:

Green River “Dry As A Bone/Rehab Doll”
I am a pretty big Pearl Jam fan and I enjoy Mudhoney, but surprisingly I had never heard Green River prior to picking up this album. I bought in celebration of Sub Pop’s 20th birthday, but I would have likely bought this one some time down the road regardless. After giving this album about a half a dozen spins all I can say is that if my future child ever asks me “Daddy, what was grunge?” I will play this album cranked to 11. I won’t go as far to say that this is the best Sub Pop release ever or anything like that, but I will say I think “Dry As A Bone/Rehab Doll” embodies all that is grunge a whole lot better than any other Seattle band has released.

Mudhoney “The Lucky Ones”
Yep, another grunge band. Perhaps the last grunge band standing really, considering Pearl Jam fell out of the grunge genre after releasing “Vitalogy.” This is the fourth Mudhoney record in my collection (March to Fuzz, Touch Me I’m Sick and Every Boy Deserves Fudge are the other three). I haven’t listened to the whole thing yet, but from what I’ve heard this record is typical Mudhoney with loud guitars and kickin grooves.

Stevie Wonder “Inner Visions”
I’m going to see Stevie Friday night and I don’t own this album so I jumped at the chance to add this classic to my collection. Even though I know all the songs and I have heard the album dozens of times during my childhood, it just seemed like a record I needed to have in my collection.

Common Market “Black Patch War”
A seven-song EP that is a concept record by one of my favorite Seattle hip hop groups. The duo of MC Ra Scion ad DJ Sabzi won me over at Sasquatch! 2006 during the hailstorm when thier set was canceled. Instead of not performing, Sabzi pulled his car up to the exit of the Gorge and bumped a CD of beats while Ra Scion rapped over them without a microphone IN THE HAIL. It was awesome. This EP is ambitious and is a good gap filler before the duo’s second full-length “Tobacco Road” is released in September.

Grynch “My Second Wind”
I caught this young rapper’s set at ReverbFEST last year and thought there was lots of potential in his rhyme-slinging abilities. I met him a few weeks back during Dyme Def’s mixtape release show and got to talk with him for a bit. He’s a very bright fellow and I think that when (this is not an “if” situation) Seattle hip hop blows up, or at least makes it to the proverbial next level, Grynch will be one of the MCs on top of the game. This record, his second, puts his potential on display and has plenty of great guest appearances by local hip hop fixtures, making it a great example of just how cool it is to be experiencing local hip hop right now.

So that was my trip to the record store. I try to make one at least every other trip to Seattle that I take. I feel like I bought some great albums and I’ll fill you in on my future purchases when they are made.

Now that you know how satisfied I am with my record-shopping experience, I want to know about your last visit to the record store. What was the last good album you bought?