Cloud Nice
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Cloud Nice

Seattle, Washington, United States | SELF

Seattle, Washington, United States | SELF
Band Hip Hop


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This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"The Cloud Nice Camp Isn't to Be Ignored, and Last Night's Nectar Bill Served as Proof"

?From time to time, Seattle's hip-hop has gotten a helping hand from the vision of independent labels that spring up to support its artists. The Blue Scholars, Common Market, and Gabriel Teodros came together as Massline in the mid-oughts; Sportn' Life has played home to the likes of D. Black, Fatal Lucciauno, and Spac3man; and the Members Only family that encompasses State of the Artist and DJs 100proof and Swervewon has been an increasingly important force. And as last night's Nectar Lounge lineup indicated, Cloud Nice--one of the town's youngest cliques--seems to be next on the list.
On a stage littered with an eclectic list of props--everything from an empty bottle of
Veuve Clicquot to a console TV playing Fritz the Cat--Cloud Nice rocked an all-family bill, and looked at home doing it. The night was headlined by the swagger-heavy trio of Jarv Dee, Nacho Picasso, and P Steez as BadAssYellowBoyz--stylized as BAYB--who celebrated the release of their debut mixtape Ziplock Hip-Hop, which dropped online in February. Support came from the Tay Sean/Thaddeus duo Helluvastate and The Good Sin with his producer 10.4 Rog--responsible for two of the best local hip-hop releases of the year.

One of the most exciting parts, standing out from an already stellar show, was the impromptu addition of Kingdom Crumbs (the collaboration between Tay Sean and Jerm of Helladope alongside Jarv Dee and Mikey Nice) after Sax G Whiz had to drop out. Playing unannounced, unheard, and unrehearsed music that, according to an announcement, probably won't be heard again for a while, the set went to prove that most people haven't seen the best the Cloud has to offer.

As a collection of notably young artists, Cloud Nice's hallmark has been its impressive rate of development. Each show is notably more put together than the last--but always the kind of raucous party where it only feels natural to have nine people onstage, pulling tighter and tighter as mike cords tangle into a demonic ball courtesy of the weaving MCs. Last night's show wrapped up amid thundering staccato shouts of "Swag!" and some near master chef-level cooking, and Cloud Nice made it clear the best is yet to come--but you should start watching now.

- Seattle Weekly

"Review: Nacho Picasso "For The Glory""

His Cannabis Club card (probably) reads "Jesse James," but Seattle rapper Nacho Picasso willingly shares a name with something you'd expect to find at a Johnny Rockets in Barcelona. You will either think the alias is awesome or awful. There is no in-between. Yet it's instantly memorable and more fitting than anything that references a Jack Black/Lucha Libre vehicle has any right to be.

Since Rick Rubin tried to create the "worst shit ever," rap has a long history of the highbrow-lowbrow game. Or what Ghostface Killah called the "smart dumb cat." Robinson is Nacho and Picasso, part fast food, part real deal. He is the hardcore hood nerd, the walking talking paradox writ large. Or as he describes himself on For the Glory: "Think like George Carlin/ Dress like Carlton/ Ball like Damon/ And wild like Marlon."

Nacho openly claims he's an arrogant asshole, not to be trusted, a bridge burner, and a numbnuts. He dedicates his orgies to Dionysus. His album cover is a picture of him riding a horse dressed as Sir Lance-A-Lot, while flanked by a Harry Potter castle and three nude goddesses. The latter continue Sir Mix-A-Lot's proud Emerald City tradition.

Picasso proves that you don't need to practice the art of storytelling when you've mastered the art of saying nothing. And For the Glory is basically a paean to girls, guns, tattoos, chronic, and comics. There is an entire song, "Marvel", wherein Picasso basically compares himself to every summer blockbuster of the last decade. While it should feel like second-rate MF Doom, Nacho spits slick and (partially) revelatory internal rhymes. He repeats, "Smoking/ Reading comic books," until it becomes mantra, like the kid from the cover of OutKast's ATLiens grown up.

If anything, For the Glory is a snub-nosed self-portrait. Picasso condenses information into one or two bars with the ease of a 1990s 5 Percent rapper. "He's been a bad guy/ Since his dad died." The self-aware scumbag redeemed through his honesty and arrant goofiness. On "Moor Gang", he describes his life as "Big butts and boobs/ Blunts and booze/ Watching Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze/ With my Steven Urkel frames and custom-made shoes." And he even has the restraint to refrain from a Vanilla Ice punchline.

That's the thing about Picasso, he knows how to vividly render an image and largely avoid cliché. Even when he resorts to the tired mobster/rapper dualities of "Benjamin Segal", he avoids the obvious Tony Montana trap. Circa 2011, the norm is rappers so tatted-up they might as well be married to Sandra Bullock. But Picasso is one of the few who makes it seem like more than fashion accessory. On "Sweaters", the self-proclaimed "tat in the hat" describes his body as a timeline and his face as something ageless. Later, he says he's inked like a Rorschach blot and a fourth-grade desk.

Half of the record captures Picasso as the affable stoner drawling in a seen-it-all baritone about 1980s professional wrestlers and characters from Half Baked. The guy who would insert a lesser remembered clip of White Men Can't Jump just for the fuck of it. The other side is the ruthless hustler whose car "looks like Iceland," who lashes out against "bitches who say that he looks like Chris Brown." The Black Flag-shirted, bare knuckle-gypsy, who shares his dead dad's love of anarchy. The end result is language-drunk and spliff-lit disorientation in the cold vein of vintage Cam'ron, late-period Curren$y, and the post-Def Jux disorderly conduct of Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire.

Picasso references his internal turmoil but never delves too deep. Nor does he need to. In his worldview, there is little nostalgia for the past or dreams of the future-- just the weary gray of the hustle. Lyrically, Seattle doesn't factor in much, other than a stray reference to being from the city where they "bust heads and clean clocks." Thankfully, producers Blue Sky Black Death and Raised by Wolves provide the requisite Pacific Northwestern pallor, providing moody beats that suture "Stepfather Factory"-era El-P to the mercury float of Clams Casino.

During a year in which Shabazz Palaces has earned Seattle hip-hop more buzz since the last time slackers wore flannel, Picasso grabs his fair share of the spotlight. For the Glory is one of the best rap debuts of the year, one that simultaneously manages to say everything but reveal nothing. Or as George Carlin would have said: Language is just a tool for concealing the truth. - Pitchfork

"Late review: "Adventures in a Helluvastate" by Seattle's Helluvastate"

Helluvastate "Adventures in a Helluvastate" (Cloud Nice/Members Only, 2011)

"Adventures in a Helluvastate" came out in March, so pardon the months-late blogging, but what we have here is something you ought to take your time with, a long-playing half-mixtape/half-album from some of Seattle rap's best and brightest, young metaphysicist producer/rapper Tay Sean and lyrical loungemate TH, presently Voltron-ed as Helluvastate.

The duo's name mixes the member's other groups' names — Helladope and State of the Artist — and for this project, the rappers have fancy new names, too: Swan Coltrane and Thadwick Tristen Trevor III. But that's all immaterial to what's going on here sound-wise, which is Seattle hip-hop sounding distinctly West Coast, capital W, capital C.

Some of the musical backdrops on "Adventures" are borrowed, others are originals from Tay Sean and his Cloud Nice crew. All prioritize a cloudy/soulful feel and kind of pop-fizz synthesizer funk — general ideas from the Cult of Dilla, here arranged with taste and cleanliness and cast/recast/overcast as Pac NW backyard BBQ beats. If you're comfortable with hip-hop that sounds like it was recorded in a coat closet, good, me too. But this isn't that. These tracks were engineered to sound clean, ethereal and heavy in your Camry. When KEXP's DJ Kevin Cole unexpectedly slips "Brain Champagne" into his mid-day set, it blends right into the indie rock listening session, contemporary slick & gritty with a navel gazey twist.

The raps on "Adventures"'s 14 tracks sprawl and skitter, run back and forth across the beat, work all sorts of dextrous magic. In a student/teacher way, they recall the spirit of E-40, Butterfly/Palaceer Lazaro, and Andre 3000, who is not from the left edge of this country but has a deep-down parallel in the logorrheic, blown-mind freestyles of the Bay Area.

Tay Sean in particular is something to behold, a nasal Shabazz Palaces soundalike with his own perspective through these streets. Which streets? Glad you asked:

"From north of one-sixty-fourth to well south of Myrtle
I prefer to stay South End
reverberate out, then
with helladope s__t to get your vertebrae bouncin'"

-Swan Coltrane on "Igloo Coo" - The Seattle Times

"Beacon Hill Rap&B group Helladope releases "Helladope," celebrates with a concert at Nectar 03/12/10"

Today, Beacon Hill Rap&B group Helladope puts out its debut album, "Helladope," and celebrates with a concert at Nectar in Fremont.

Before we go any further, a note on the name. In an accidental and PG-13 way, it expresses the kind of "if you don't get it, it's not for you" thing I love so much about hiphop (see: slang, graffiti, etc.). I've met several people who simply cannot say "Helladope" without making a face and pausing between "hella" and "dope" like they're embarrassed about what's coming out of their mouth. But I digress.

"Helladope" contains no fewer than three minor Seattle classics of fusion-y future-funk sing-rap ("Just So You Know," "Rainwater," "Shine On") and a range of other songs, many revolving around outer space in sound and lyrical content.

Throughout the album, the rapping and singing are excellent, with Tay Sean's nasally tenor perfectly foiled against man Jerm's sandy midrange. The former is in his early 20s, the latter in his late 20s, and they rap with different energy levels and precision requirements. Where Tay Sean's words pile up at the ends of rhymes, crashing in on each other, Jerm has more of a steady flow, and also a real gift for taking up space on a track, not rapping but not exactly singing, either. His refrain on "Just So You Know" is particularly memorable, but doesn't look like anything on paper: "Absolutely, positively Positively, absolutely out to get this party movin'."

Courtesy Tay Sean, the backing tracks on "Helladope" go several different synthesizer-y ways, showing the artist developing rapidly, trying new styles fearlessly. There is really no template for "Mind Shiftin," a song that would sound nothing like hiphop were it not for guest star Rajnii rapping on it. It's a quick-skipping, downward-moving beat with watery keys in the background.

There's a fizzy/aluminum can thing happening on "This Is My Planet" and "Cosmic Voyage," but "Gods On a Mission" is totally different, held down by smooth electric piano and fingersnaps. Sneak-attack strings and an agitated keys melody give "We Come In Peace" a paranoid feel. "The Soul Electric" could have been in a late '80s rapsploitation movie ("Breakin'," anyone?), its electro-synth composition made for popping and locking.

The songs are creative, all, but some have elements that could be done without: the shouty chorus on "We Come In Peace" (does it need to be so loud?), the incongruous Chrisette Michelle-style vocal hook by Isabella Du Graf on "Gods On a Mission" (not that it's bad, it just sounds like it was copied and pasted from another song).

Every time greatness is thwarted on "Helladope," I just go back and listen to "Just So You Know," "Rainwater," or "Shine On."

"Just So You Know" invents a new dance music (Swingstep? Grownstep?). "Rainwater" is sweeping, crushing, romantic synth-R&B/house; it sounds like "Thriller" at the roller rink. "Shine On" is rap that turns on a dime and erupts in joyous song. All three will kill at Nectar tonight. - The Seattle Times

"Cloud Burst"

What you may already know: The beat of this burg was felt worldwide in 2011, with acts from our little scene touring internationally, packing houses throughout the United States, making total believers out of fans and critics alike. What you may have missed, though, is something closer to home—the fact that Cloud Nice, one of our most creative and dynamic crews, was quietly behind some of the best music and movements of Seattle hiphop this year.

Arguably the first great local release of 2011 was from Helluvastate, aka Swan Coltrane and Thadwick Tristen Trevor III—that is to say, Cloud Nice scion Tay Sean and State of the Artist's TH. Their Adventures in a Helluvastate (released and promoted by the Members Only label, which SOTA call home) is rib-sticking hiphop comfort food, all billowing smoke and basement wood grain. It was hardly surprising when the two appeared in the dogged underground-scene-scouring music magazine the Fader, especially after local director Stephan Gray's gorgeous monochrome visuals for their psychotropical single "Brain Champagne."

Cloud Nice producer 10.4 Rog went from unknown quantity to substantial blog notoriety for his impeccable remix and instrumental work (such as his July offering, Scraps). Late, his album with MC The Good Sin, released a month after Helluvastate, was the next local rap essential, matching Rog's amniotic Love Movement–era thump with Sin's sober everyman ruminations. One of my favorite productions yet from Rog was his "4:20AM Remix" of the instant anthem "I Just Wanna" by "Jackin'" Jarv Dee, cornerstone of the Cloud and member of BAYB.

BAYB—the BadAzzYellowBoyz—have brought a wild new energy to Seattle street rap, a subgenre whose best participants have mastered a steely mastermind cool. Instead, BAYB's Jarv, Steezie, and Nacho rage shirtless, gold-toothed, and tatted to the wrists—something more akin to the riotous, fearless drug-user/seller trap-hop of Atlanta's Waka Flocka Flame (who BAYB naturally opened for at the King Cat back in February). Their group debut, Ziploc Hip-Hop, played best to the rhythmic instincts of Jarv—through his pinched, nasal screech, as sharp and direct as an ice pick in your frontal lobe, he spit venom like a cobra. BAYB's youngest member, Steezie Nasa, released Hella Proper—heavy on frontline East Seattle bravado and frenetic, Lex Lugerish hi-haberdashery—this summer. His defiantly "yopped-up" young-gun energy quickly got him buzzing (and courting Twitter compliments from "Gucci Gucci" girl Kreayshawn, of all things).

Speaking of buzz, YellowBoy Nacho Picasso recently took brickbat to beehive, as national press again gushed over a Cloud Nice–affiliated project: His solo debut, For the Glory, popped up on Stereogum, Pitchfork (scoring a 7.9), and even ended up on Spin's 50 Best Mixtapes of 2011 list (and was the only Seattle act—besides the Sub Pop–signed Shabazz Palaces—listed on their State-of-Hiphop infographic). It's a wicked chemistry that brought all this about. Nacho's punch-line-playful cold-heartedness found its perfect complement in the dour spaceborne menace of the instrumental-hiphop crew Blue Sky Black Death—already well established, with a deep catalog and a heap of their own critical praise for albums like Noir, which dropped in April on Fake Four. BSBD produced, released, and promoted Nacho's tooth-cracking supervillain primer For the Glory, with BSBD linchpin Kingston also creating a series of greasy-gritty videos. Nacho matched the work, amping up his already cartoonish contempt for life and his egomania to literally epic levels (just see his Greek pantheon references and Frank Frazetta–checking album art). With the skills and the bona fides in place—plus a new album already completed—Nacho and BSBD are well poised to go Conan the Conqueror in 2012.

Nacho also appeared on "No One," the new single from Cloud MC Sax G, who represents a humbler side of the collective: a hardworking father of two looking for love and meaning. Capturing so many feels and environments native to Seattle, Cloud Nice possesses a rare breadth, the kind that's made many crews great. The clique is developing into something akin to a homegrown version of Georgia's legendary Dungeon Family, an egalitarian hiphop collective full of standout artists, groups, subsets, and affiliates representing varied approaches and a generally high level of quality control. In the Cloud, it seems, every man is king. That just about brings us to Kingdom Crumbs, the upcoming Tay Sean–produced Cloud Nice LP, which focuses on the core of Tay Sean, Jarv Dee, and the witty b-boy gentleman Mikey Nice. Based on a couple of listens, it's the beautiful next step, with deep, oceanic soul and cracking, tectonic heat, their own stab at the Dungeon Fam's Even in Darkness. Cloud Nice, true to its formless namesake, takes many shapes, floating high through the clear blue canopy or swinging low to dump on your parade. Their rain (pun intended) is far from over, so - The Stranger


Still working on that hot first release.



Cloud Nice is a family. Not a record label. Not a music group whatever the fuck that is. We're a family. We fux with each other on the daily. Sometimes we make music together. Sometimes we don't. At the end of the day we uphold one core belief: that by our individual strengths we can strengthen each other. Ridin' on the strength since 2007, muthafuckas.

Cloud Nice started in in a small bedroom in a two-family flat in the South End of Seattle's Beacon Hill neighborhood. Using minimal equipment and only a rudimentary knowledge of the recording process, and virtually no knowledge of the music industry, Cloud Nice began to create a sound that is now a staple in Northwest Hip-Hop, characterized by music that pushes the boundaries in a genre already heavily experimental. Since our humble beginnings we've added talent to the roster, continually learning from one another and growing together.