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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Word play with a beat

Bad Penmanship unites area’s best hip-hop artists at The Shop

Jaeda lands at Bad Penmanship on the heels of her monthlong tour with Abstract Rude. (File)
Jaeda lands at Bad Penmanship on the heels of her monthlong tour with Abstract Rude. (File)

Bad Penmanship isn’t just about the words.

From the very beginning, the local hip-hop collective has represented both the beats and rhymes side of hip-hop.

But rarely before tonight has Bad Penmanship so overtly split and spotlit the instrumental element.

Now in its ninth year, the annual Bad Penmanship showcase brings together some the best hip-hop artists in Spokane for an all-ages hip-hop battle royal tonight at The Shop on South Perry Street.

Bad Penmanship 9 will stagger performances where wordsmiths and beatsmiths volley a series of hip-hop sammiches, staging oral against aural.

“From the beginning, the majority of Bad Penmanship always had our hands in making beats, so I’m happy a large part of this show is about the production,” said Bad Penmanship’s elder statesman and co-founder Jason Corcoran, aka Freetime Synthetic. “I’ve always had a good time getting beats from people who also rap. A lot of people don’t realize Ocean (Black Ceiling) had a whole CD he rapped on before he came out as a producer. I produced all of my beats on my first album.”

Tonight’s bill boasts the top talent in BadPen network, from fixtures who have been blazing a trail for Spokane hip-hop since the 1990s to the youngbloods and newcomers who walk a similar path.

Synthetic’s tag team partner in rhyme, Quiz, aka K. Clifton, will be unveiling a new beats project called Uhmbrelluh. Beat houses Sales Wagon and Black Ceiling will both be unveiling new sets tonight.

MJ the Human Beatbox Monster will be performing a solo set along side his co-conspirator, Nobe the Freestyle Ninja, who is billed in a rare solo set as providing his own instrumentals.

Local favorite Jaeda is returning in time for the show after a month-long tour with freestyle emcee pioneer Abstract Rude.

Gearhead Wax Eight 0 Eight is also scheduled to perform, as he plays a regular weekly all-ages underground night at The Shop. Synthetic said to expect several of the artists on tonight’s bill to be recurring guests at Wax’s Friday weekly.

“Bad Penmanship is a loose collective of people that are on the same type of deal … semi-conscious hip-hop. It’s a good excuse to get everyone in the same room. It’s a good chance to play a venue we don’t usually play and try to really push it all ages,” Synthetic said. “Ever since I was a kid I remember sitting at 4000 Holes and staring at fliers for Fumes’ shows and knowing every word to the whole album and be pissed that I couldn’t go to a show and watching all these shows go by until they finally played an all ages show.”

Synthetic also said The Shop was an ideal spot for BadPen 9 in that it’s intimate enough for those in the audience who actually do prefer to hear the rhymes over the beats.

“It gets back to the coffee shop environment where if people choose to, they can hear every word you say. It’s not an echo-fest like in some venues where I know they can’t hear a word I’m saying even if they wanted. Here you can actually listen to the lyrics if you want to.”

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