Tonight, when the clock strikes 8:30 and doors open to the venue at Kelly’s Olympian, it will mark the 8 year anniversary of Portland’s premiere Hip-Hop showcase, The THESIS.
Since 2014, Verbz and I have been carefully curating concerts that not only highlight the musical talent that Portland and the larger Northwest have to offer, but that also speak to the times that we’re in. Our commitments to champion diversity, stay rooted, prioritize the vibes, demand quality and example professionalism have resulted in a long lasting monthly event that artists are proud to be a part of, where people feel safe and seen, where the patrons always get their money’s worth.
Proudly, I can say that the intention that went into this anniversary show is above and beyond what we do on the monthly. These anniversary shows are a chance to reflect on the year past, as well as set the tone for the year coming. So let me explain tonight’s line up for those who don’t know.
During our 2 year anniversary, we actually did 2 shows, the second one being an all-ages pop-up in the Pearl where an underaged collective known as SQD helped us pack a building with hundreds of young adults. From that crew sprouted a few rappers of note, including Heff, Keith Canvas, and 3AM. Over time 3AM rebranded as Real3AM and moved to Arizona, but he’s back home to headline with a new collection of sultry R&B raps. His new EP, Bad Habits, is buzzing on Spotify, boosted by the single, Toxic love, which features Sol Luna. With songs like Live fast die young and Numb, the 6-track EP carries a sensually chaotic nihilist vibe that pleases the ear and doesn’t take itself too seriously, and I’m excited to hear it live.
Imagine my surprise this fall when Verbz came back from a meeting with DJ OG One and told me that he’d booked him for the anniversary show! It’s not every day that we get the Trailblazers’ official DJ spinning for us… do you know how busy that man is? Needless to say, we’re beyond honored. So honored, in fact, that OG One will be taking over Verbz intro set – a rare occasion indeed. As a member of The Academy (i.e., the Grammys), Mic Check’s official DJ, and a bonafide community legend, OG One brings wild credibility to tonight’s event from both a musical and social standpoint. He’s also bringing upstart rapper Akira West out to open the show. If you haven’t heard OG’s 2021 compilation project, Testimony, you ought to check it out.
Chicago’s Nexus J. has been on our radar for a minute and we decided a few months ago that we wanted to save her THESIS debut for the anniversary show. Simply put, Nexus’ songs drip sex, and title’s like Cum Ovr and Choke on it, are quick give aways. Moreover, her live show is top notch, and I’m pumped to see and hear what she has in store for us tonight.
Leebotracks is a Seattle-based artist with young Travis Scott vibes and a fairly viral following. Filling in on short notice, expect Leebo to bring unabashedly turnt Hip-Hop energy to the show. The self-produced rapper released a pretty dope EP in 2021, INTO THE STORM, which included a catchy single called BREAK, but the song I’ll be waiting for tonight is his 2020 toxic slap, No Ex. Check for it.
What can I say about Veana Baby that I haven’t already? One of Portland’s most amazing raw talents, this singer/songwriter and regular guest of The THESIS has been freestyling her way into our hearts for a couple of years now, and it just didn’t seem right to do this show without her. If you’ve never heard Veana, you should listen to TheNumberz.fm more, they are always playing her 2021 slap Honey Dip (featuring Sotae) and it’s also available on streaming services where you can dig into her ever-growing discography.
Lineups like this don’t come out of nowhere, so big thanks to all of the people involved in making sure that there is an abundance of talent in our region and those who point them out to us. This concert series has always been about advancing the visibility of the regions best; thanks for staying connected.