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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Local Music Spotlight: Icy Ike loves the freedom in hip-hop

UPDATED: Thu., April 28, 2022

By Julien A. Luebbers For The Spokesman-Review

Icy Ike has been making music since high school, when casual, freestyle rapping developed into something a little more serious. Now, with his latest single “When I Fall,” the Spokane artist is showing what these past few years of practice can create.

Before the refined sound of his more recent songs, Icy Ike started out on SoundCloud, with tracks recorded on an iPad and Apple headphones. In spite of the humble means, he saw a positive response to his music, which kept racking up plays. With some success under his belt, he pushed forward, finding his own space within the vast possibilities of hip-hop.

“It’s such a diverse genre, you can really do anything,” Icy Ike said. “And it can still fall under the sphere of hip-hop. It’s something cool, and it can also be something marginalizing. You can look at it either way, but I love how there’s so much freedom within it.”

Being a rap artist is never easy, but in Spokane, it can be especially difficult. For one thing, as Icy Ike points out, “there really is no hip-hop history” here in Spokane. “The people now are forging the path.” It’s at once a blank slate and a monumental task. But with artists like Icy Ike, Spokane is making a mark on PNW hip-hop with every song.

“When I Fall” has a rather unique beat, built on a twinkling rapid piano part to set it out from the crowd. That piano line is underscored by a peppy drumbeat that holds the song together. It’s quick, not too filled out and works in wonderful synergy with Icy Ike’s deep-voice vocals.

Icy Ike’s rap is smooth and controlled, bouncing back and forth between relaxed, spacious lines and cascading bars that match the piano beat in pace and mood. He is able, when he wants, to fit volumes of words into small spaces, which hit the listener like packets of sound and meaning.

These moments work so well in part because of the slower-moving lines that surround them. “When I Fall” is a dynamic track, engaging, light and well-written. “It’s kind of a triumphant song, just a little bit playful,” Icy Ike said.

That playfulness comes out strongest in the song’s accompanying music video, for which Icy Ike worked with LledRow Multimedia. “I don’t really know where I got the idea from, for some reason I was like, ‘Let’s do some cowboys and aliens,’ ” he said.

The final product shows Icy Ike floating, walking and riding a horse through a dynamic and trippy world made up of what looks like children’s drawings. There are cowboys and aliens, but also horses, cliffs, spaceships and fun effects. He moves through the world in a series of falls and rises, rapping all the while. It’s whimsical, but that doesn’t detract from the song’s power.

Of the songwriting process, Icy Ike said his music is “for myself, to listen to. I like my music to be a little bit uplifting, talk a little, give a little swagger throughout my day. Or also something to vibe to, drive to. It’s polar opposites, but they go together.”

This latest track shows that dichotomy better than anything. “When I Fall” engages with the question of who is there for you, but lightheartedly, almost seeming to highlight the importance of being there for yourself. “Who is gonna get you? Yeah, that is obviously a question,” he said. “At the end of the day, you do have to get yourself.”

Icy Ike has a bright future ahead and a spot in the early history of Spokane rap to carve for himself. “When I Fall” yet again shows the young rapper’s capabilities. To stay up to date on Icy Ike’s releases and performances, follow him at @IcyIke509 on Instagram. Also, listen to his music on all platforms, and stay tuned for the release of “When I Fall” on May 21.

Julien A. Luebbers can be reached at julien.luebbers@gmail.com.

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