Band of the Day

2012.07.19

Sol

Rising hip hop star Sol mixes serious intensity with easy-going jams
But we ain't playin for the fortune, we ain't playing for the fame. Matter of fact, we ain't even playing the game.
lyrics from 2020

Seattle based hip hop artist Sol Moravia-Rosenberg, simply known as Sol, or “Seattle’s Prince,” has been a staple of the Northwest hip hop scene since 2008. Sol’s latest independently released album—Yours Truly (1/20/2012) rose to #1 on the iTunes US Hip Hop charts (#4 worldwide). Yours Truly tracks a three-year journey following his 2009 debut album The Ride, the acclaimed Dear Friend’s EP series, and him sharing the stage with artists such as The Wu-Tang Clan, The Clipse and Zion-I. Known to “rap like a soul star,” the 23-year-old has also showcased his Haiti pride and humanitarian efforts by performing at a sold out “Haiti Relief Show” that raised more than $7000. In addition to success on the music front, Sol, a University of Washington student, was a 2011 UW Bonderman Fellowship recipient.

Rising 23-year-old hip hop star Sol could be called underground for his smooth and socially conscious flow, pop for his glittering hooks, or contemporary for the way he mixes snippets of house and indie into his production. But his real gift is how he can be all these things at once with such clarity and focus and sound so... Sol. There's something incredibly easy-going and uplifting about the rapper. He makes music that can serve as soundtracks for the good times you’re nostalgic for. First making waves in the Northwest music scene in 2010 on the strength of his three-part Dear Friends EP series, the Seattle-based rapper saw his profile steadily rise with the release of his 2012 full-length Yours Truly. With his effortlessly laid back, approachable flow and minimal, but continually compelling production, the album has some truly great moments.

“Stage Dive” is a positive highlight that sees Sol rapping about the power of music over sparkling and soulful vintage samples and a classic hip hop beat. Like most of Sol's best cuts, it's simple and straightforward. He wows through an unassuming vibe and universal sentiments that all kinds of people can identify with. Title track “Yours Truly” is another example of minimalism turned gold. Beginning with a lush, lo-fi sample that immediately tugs at the heart-strings with sweet nostalgia, Sol jumps in with calmly measured confessions and rides a stellar groove.

While his most easily accessible and arguably best moments are the sunny afternoon jams like “Stage Dive” and “This Shit” off the Dear Friends EP, Sol can do serious and powerful, too. On “2020” Sol dissects some dance-floor synths and The xx style guitar, turning them into a meditatively plodding backing as he spits lines like “Killing the game feeling like I'm hunting safari/You got that Jesus on your chain while you do nothing but party” with an intensity you wouldn't have expected after his fun loving moments.

With the variety of producers and tones throughout the album, Yours Truly doesn't exactly feel like a “statement.” But it does feel like the work of a young artist bursting with talent, ideas and chops to make those ideas a reality.