Release Date: Mar 10, 2017
Record label: Sub Pop
Sub Pop's long-standing patronage of Seattle's hip-hop scene was cemented in 2013 with the installation of Shabazz Palaces' Ismael Butler as an A&R man. Local MC Porter Ray was one of his first signings, with a series of promising mixtapes and EPs, now followed by this debut album. In tune with the city's independent hip hop tradition, Porter Ray's music is imbued with a left-field sensibility.
The story of Aaron Sullivan is out there. It’s been out there for some time, a sad narrative supporting a sad statistic. Chances are, you’ve read or seen hundreds of stories like it in the local papers, on the local news. “Gone too soon.” “His whole life ahead of him.” The story is here.
In 2009, Porter Ray Sullivan's brother, Aaron, was shot and killed during an altercation he had no stake in; when the Seattle MC's son was born a few years later, he named him after his late sibling. Much of Watercolor , Sullivan's airy, classicist debut, pivots between these two Aarons--one a symbol of the graveyard's call, the other of the future's persistence. Up until recently, the particulars of Sullivan's personal life have been asides in the exaggerated, smoke-session retellings of old conquests, as on the jazzy 2015 EP Nightfall .
Watercolor is the proper debut from MC Porter Ray, a Seattle native who has been writing music for much of his life, but only began releasing mixtapes in 2013. The album appears on Sub Pop, which signed Ray in 2015 after he met Shabazz Palaces' Ishmael Butler, leading to a guest appearance on THEESatisfaction's EarthEE that year. Ray's lyrics reflect all of the tumultuous occurrences throughout his life; his father passed away in 2005, his younger brother was killed four years later, and several of his friends have been shot or become incarcerated due to gun violence.