Tacoma Hip-Hop in 2018
by Josh Rizeberg
This was one of the strongest years for Tacoma Hip-Hop that I can remember. Shouts out to Clemm
Rishad for continually making national noise with his writing credits and props to Sonny Bonoho who is
out there directing videos for artists all around the country.
There were four albums I wanted to highlight and encourage Washington readers to listen to. Here are
my top four (yeah not five) Tacoma Hip-Hop releases for 2018. Lone-Wolf and Kub is a Hip-Hop duo
consisting of a Father and Son. The Father is Washington Hip-Hop veteran Shao Sosa. Sosa is known
from the Tri-Cities to Portland and everywhere in between for his Hip-Hop career. He recently took his
Son under his wing to complete a project. His son is Nobi and they both M.C. the entire album. This is
high-art Hip-Hop. It is dense, layered, deep, thoughtful, lyrical, boom-bap. There is nothing stale about
this boom-bap however. It is entrenched in mythological Kung-Fu nostalgia and has a comic-book aura
to it that gives life to the project. Lone Wolf and Kub is the group and the album is self-titled. It is
currently available on all digital outlets.
Next up is Don James with his 5 th album and 4 th solo-release titled “Black Super Mario”. From the title
you can tell that this is a very creative project. Don James is definitely one of Tacoma’s favorite M.C.’s.
He has the perfect mix of intelligence, street-smarts, and regular-guy relatability that make him pleasing
to any listener. Get Black Super Mario on Don James’s Bandcamp page.
Then there is John Crown’s “No Lanes”. John Crown has been putting it down in Tacoma since the early
00’s. He is a talented poet, rapper, and photographer. Crown has numerous notable releases and “No
Lanes” may be the best of them. This is a shorter project with only seven songs but it has all the gravitas
one could need. There are not many M.C.’s who let you into their personal-lives and personality like
John. He is extremely honest and this is one of his strengths. John Crown has bars, vulnerability, humor,
sadness, and swag. The project is just like John: a complicated, beautiful, frustrating, emotional roller-
coaster, taking listeners through every peak and valley he has experienced. Be prepared to laugh and
put out a very serious album titled “Parkland”. It is a hyper-local ride through the opioid-
crisis currently crippling Pierce County. Even though this album microscopically focuses on Parkland, the
drug-problems, poverty, and all the related ills that come with the epidemic are so universal that this
album could rock anywhere. You can tell that this was a heartfelt release from Barz. He had to battle
censorship just to keep the album art-work up on digital-sites. So go check-out what the controversy is
To round out the year we cannot forget that Jacmov and his label So Active stayed just that. He was by
far the busiest artist of the year putting-out more music and doing more shows than anyone else. He
even let some light shine on one of his artist’s Littoral. Littoral got a lot of props this year as well
releasing a slew of popular videos, “Tacoma Love” featuring Phinisey, “Reach for my 40”, and “Bitter
Sweet Symphony”. Last but not least look out for Real Kozby in 2019. He formally was known as
Youngstarr. Kozby spit a lot of heat this year by focusing on short videos and freestyles that he
continually dropped through 2018. Hopefully we get a full-length project from him in 2019.
Lastly I giving single of the year to the OG’s Deeale featuring Raw One of EVG4LIFE for “Ballin and
Blowing”. This song had a rider type feel, classic sound, but did not come across as dated. Check for the
single on BBL Label music. The single made waves all the way up to Seattle and had a good run on