Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Elevator Music


Specs One and E-Sharp: The Legendary Elevators

I can vividly remember the first night I ever heard the Elevators. It was way back in '94, and me and a couple dudes I knew were crammed into my crappy-ass lowrider, parked at the beach, blitzed out of our minds on some heavy shit. The stereo was on, and Digible Planets' Blowout Comb had just flipped over in the tape deck back to side 1. This night would have been memorable just for that; as that was my first listen to that perfect record, which is still one of my all-time favorites. But what really did it for me was what came next: My man said "Hey, have you heard the Elevators?" I mumbled something negatory, at which point Blowout was immediately and unceremoniously ejected in favor of a quiet little home recorded cassette that has shaped the face of Northwest hip hop to this day - the Elevator Music EP.
For being released in the 1993, this tape was on the next level. The beats were rough and low-fi, and the vocals were quiet but confidently conscious. The buzz at the time is that The Elevators were Seattle's answer to Gang Starr, but they were something more as well: They effectively moved Seattle forward beyond the 808-heavy party tracks of Sir Mix-A-Lot, and laid the groundwork that eventually put Seattle on the underground hip hop map. From the quietly jazzy and lyrically substantial aesthetic employed by Tribal and Source of Labor, and beyond to the indie sound of Blue Scholars and Common Market, The Elevators' influence is indelible. So give Specs One and E-Sharp a serious head nod for sculpting the sound of the Northwest.
That night was the one and only time I ever heard Elevator Music, until Truth from Tribal's Union of Opposites hit Bring That Beat Back with the tracks last year (Thank you - you are the man!). I included those tracks, along with two more from the Elevators facespace page, compiling all I can find of their output. It's brief, but memorable.
Specs One aka Specs Wizard aka M See Eye Shock has gone on to be one of the most creative and long-lasting characters in the 206 hip hop fermement; as an emcee, visual artist, and producer. If you look, he's literally everywhere. More on the man can be found here, including links to his current releases. Not to be slept on! Check out the Elevators below - and if anyone out there has anything I missed, could you hit me up? :)

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