Musicians, and rappers in particular, are often tied very much to place. Their hometown is the thread that runs through their music, their artistry, and their identity.
That sense of place and community is particularly strong in Portland. While Portland is known musically as an indie rock sort of place, it has recently developed quite a robust hip hop scene. And local rappers are actively trying to encourage people to see their side of Portland.
The best way to see Portland through the eyes of these artists is to check out their music videos. And recently there have been a bunch of them coming out, in varying degrees of weird.
The “Anti Tour Guide”
When you travel somewhere, people often ask “How was your trip?”. Your response is typically a laundry list of famous places they’ve probably heard of and are jealous you got to visit, right? Not if you hire Maze Koroma as your tour guide.
In his “You’ll Always Be My Sunshine” video, you get to see all the uniquely mundane parts of Portland. Here’s his favorite swing. This pickup truck is kind of funky and parked on a lawn. Here’s a church, and a school, and a loading dock. Hey, I know we haven’t quite wrapped up this shoot, but I need to run to the grocery store real quick.
I’m also 99% sure he can’t actually dunk.
The “Is Portland Tropical?”
You’ve probably heard this one. Aminé is one of the hottest new rappers in not just Portland but the country. “Caroline” is his first official single, and if you were judging Portland by it, you’d swear Portland was just south of Hawaii. I mean his car is filled with bananas. Also, Big Kahuna Burger? Of course, if you don’t know the reference, Aminé’s shirt gives it away.
But maybe calling attention to shirts wasn’t the best idea. Why’s his buddy in a Suns jersey? Somewhere Bill Walton just shed a single tear.
The “Local Access Music Video”
This one’s hyper-local. iAmMoshow‘s entire “Adopt A Cat” video takes place entirely within the Oregon Humane Society. The self-proclaimed “cat rapper” does walk the walk though. He really loves cats. All his swag has cats. His logo is a cat. He’s even wearing a bunch of dorky pins about cats.
Animal adoption is a great cause, and I respect this effort. Let’s start a petition to replace those manipulative Sarah McLachlan ASPCA ads with this video instead.
The “Keeping Portland Weird”
¥ung ¢hef and Doughboi‘s viral hit video starts off in a dark room with a single lightbulb, betraying no details. And then suddenly, Portland (and Doughboi’s head-to-toe ramen outfit) hits you right in the face. There’s no getting around it, an ode to ramen is pretty strange material. Yet, that strangeness really embodies the city’s unofficial motto, “Keep Portland Weird”.
Consider the age of these two and their friends. Not to put too fine of a point on it, but they’re pretty young. Sometimes the purest way to keep things local is for it to be shown to you by someone who’s world doesn’t yet extend further than walking distance.