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Seattle Hip-Hop: Common Market, Blue Scholars

DJ Sabzi of Common Market and Blue Scholars was probably the busiest man of the weekend. On day two of Bumbershoot, the Seattle native spun back-to-back sets for both his acts, keeping the festival’s local hip-hop pulse alive.

“It’s going to be great, I like being busy,” Sabzi told behind his giant white stunner shades. “My first set with [Common Market’s RA Scion] will provide a good warm up for my set with Blue Scholars.”

Common Market have produced only one self-titled LP, but it was more than enough ammo to fuel the duo’s hour-long set. RA Scion — a native of Louisville, Kentucky who spent four years living in Zambia and now resides in Seattle — rhymed heavy, well-articulated social commentary while Sabzi’s spun beats both refreshing and nostalgic.

“You like that organic vibe, huh?” RA asked the crowd before the duo exploded into heavier hit and local-favorite, “Push Back.”

“I love the growing hip-hop scene in Seattle,” said Dan Sekine, 22, of Seattle. “Both these guys and Blue Scholars have a fresh sound.”

Their on-stage demeanor was also impressive, as it was conflicting but hardly at odds. RA cracked a smug smile between each word, reflecting his attitude he calls “self-righteous and pious” in “G’Dang Diggy,” while Sabzi effortlessly cut beats with expert precision.

Just an hour after their set, Sabzi’s other project, Blue Scholars, took the mainstage. Along with Geologic, a second-generation Filipino immigrant, the pair have fast become the pride of Seattle hip-hop scene. And the duo were not shy to claim Seattle as their hometown, much to their fans’ delight. “Bumbershoot has done a nice job of keeping the Northwest’s music scene alive,” said Martin Sepulveda, 19, of Seattle. “Blue Scholars opening up for Kanye is a pretty big deal.”

“Just one DJ, and one emcee — that’s it!” screamed Geologic, making their presence known as a tribute to hip-hop’s oldest format, the duo. Sabzi told Blue Scholars are “much truer to classic hip-hop” than Common Market, but like the latter group, Blue Scholars spit furious and fiery lyrics, many of which are true to the local scene.

The Northwest was represented in more ways than just Blue Scholars’ set of songs from their 2005 self-titled LP: Sabzi sampled “Float On” by hometown indie rockers Modest Mouse and RA Scion even joined the stage for a collaborated effort on Common Market’s “Every Last One.”

With two potent hip-hop acts on Saturday, Sabzi worked on creating a dynasty for himself within the underground hip-hop community beyond Seattle. But it was to his hometown he remains loyal: “I’ve been coming here as a fan my whole life, man,” Sabzi told “It’s like I’m up here performing for my family.” JOSH SABROWSKY


At Bumbershoot ’06, Spin is on the ground with our college correspondent program. Eight college students — four writers, four photographers — earned the opportunity to cover the festival for, live, all weekend long. Sound appealing? Stay tuned to for future opportunities to apply for our college correspondent program!