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Band Hip Hop Spoken Word


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"The Stranger Show of the Week"

(Nectar) Playing to a sparse crowd at Lo_Fi a few months back, these three heads recently moved down to Seattle from Bellingham to infiltrate the city's local hiphop community. Backed by the grandiose beatslinging of one DJ Swervewon, Taylor "Taybot" Napolski and his poof-haired compatriot Praxis take on the usual talking points for the educated MC: the cultural divide, the pursuit of enlightenment, the government, and all around wackness in general. But if you're lucky, they might freestyle about your sports coat and drink. SAM EWALD - The Stranger

"My Philosophy"

Nectar is hosting the hiphop on Wednesday, January 17—with Estrella, La Rue, and Grynch. Estrella formed in '04 in Bellingham, and these now-Seattle reps (MCs Taybot and Praxis, plus DJ Swervewon) ply their trade with positivity, passion, and political insights. They dropped their Good Mixtape in '06 and have been on the grind around town ever since. LARRY MIZELL JR - The Stranger

"Music for Mother Earth:"

Western's Earth Day celebration is exactly that - a chance to have fun in the sun, listen to live bands and celebrate a year's worth of environmental achievements.

The festival's theme this year is Local Revolutions = Global Solutions, said co-coordinator and Western senior Alyssa Corrow. Approximately 30 to 40 Western student clubs and organizations will be on Vendors' Row near the Viking Union and on the Performing Arts Center Plaza from noon to 6 p.m. April 21.

The goal is to emphasize the individual's impact on the environment and take large scale global issues to a local level, Corrow said.

Participants in such activities as making reusable shopping bags and learning how to make their homes earth-friendly will get to hear music from Seattle bands Estrella and Slender Means and Bellingham bands The Yogoman Burning Band and The Growers. The Planets were scheduled to perfrom, but are unable to due to scheduling conflicts.

The bands playing April 21 hail from different genres of hip hop, rock, reggae and soul, but they have one thing in common, said Western junior Ian Morgan, who coordinated the event with Corrow.

The bands all have a message or mission statement in their music that relates to the environment.

"We try to choose bands who are very interested in environmental issues," Morgan said.

Estrella played at Western's Earth Day festival last year, but the other bands are new to the event and offer a wide variety of music for all listeners.

"We play rock-jam-funk-jazz," said Aaron Guest, drummer for The Growers. "You couldn't really put it into one genre, which is why it's really fun to play."

The Growers formed in 2005 as a garage band, and have moved on to play local shows and clubs.

Bassist Richard Reeves and guitarist Mike Preuss join Guest to create a sound that mixes vocal and instrumental songs equally, said Guest. The band took a break while Reeves attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, but now are back together.

Earth Day will be the band's second show since getting back together, Guest said. "I've always enjoyed Earth Day," Guest said. "I've (participated in the event) since I was a freshman. It seems to be awesomely good weather every time."

The music scene will be different this year, he said. The traditional Earth Day sounds of reggae and soul will still be there, but The Growers' sound is a little different from the past Earth Day soundtrack.

"There's going to be a lot more rock this year than in years past," Guest said.

Estrella's Alberto Mejia and Taylor Napolski, known by their emcee names as Praxis and Taybot, plan to add more of a hip-hop sound to the festival.

Napolski and Mejia met in 2003 at a musical battle at Western and were in another band that eventually broke up. From there, they formed Estrella and have been playing the hip-hop scene in Seattle and Bellingham.

The band looks forward to playing at the festival, Mejia said. It's a great place to get Estrella's environmental message out to a receptive crowd.

"We're just there celebrating the hard work of being active about [the environment] and being aware," said Mejia.

The Yogoman Burning Band, led by vocalist and occassional drummer Jordan Rain, is also playing the Earth Day festival. The eight-member band also includes bassist Norah McGlaughlin, guitarists Stell Newsome and Dan Lowenger, Joel Ricci on trumpet, Thomas Akihiro Deakin on saxophone, Mars Lundgren on trombone and drummer Mike Mitchell.

Earth Day is important to Rain because it creates awareness about local environmental issues, he said. The lighthearted atmosphere with an environmental focus makes the festival an ideal venue for the Yogoman Burning Band, Rain said.

"In the Yogoman Burning Band my mission is to create a positive environment for people to come together and dance and experience joy through music," Rain said. - The Western Front, author Liz Beaulieu

"estrella: community beats"

Estrella: Community Beats

by Joseph Westover


To some, Estrella means star. To others it means date night. Priced marginally above the monotonous flava of two buck chuck (motto: Our Shiraz is the Shiritz homey), drinking the star means something special is in the air. Sniff. For those of you who have no lovin to look forward to or simply refuse to cough up more than three dollars for a bottle of wine, there is an Estrella you may want to check out.

Forged by the spirit of competition, emcees praxis (formerly known as dusk)and Taybot fused at a 2003 WWU battle. From there, bohemian ruled everything around them. They would often walk miles through Bellingham's notoriously inclement weather to each other's houses, while regularly taking advantage of Western's best perk ever (hint: it involves the dining hall). When a proficient beatmeister became necessary, the two failed to go wrong in recruiting DJ Seawa from the State Street Depot, and in 2004 Estrella was born. The name was obvious enough. As praxis and Taybot point out in a high-tech interview, "stars bring hope when things are bleak, people find their way by the stars."

Wait, wait, wait, don't jump the gun and lump these guys in with the pretentious. Consider that as a group, the members of Estrella believe that "hip hop is a community art form, and it's important for us to be about what we speak in our songs." which tend to be about community affection, indignant empowerment, and practiced flow. Words schmurds? Estrella takes the time to participate in their community in productive ways. Instead of a "talky" interview, their priority was a second trip as staffers to Hip Hop Hope, a youth arts camp put on by local non-profit The Power Of Hope. The camp, attended by high school kids from across Washington State, is dedicated to building a solid sense of community, developing musical talent, and ultimately recording "a hip hop album centered on positive self expression." Additionally, Estrella can regularly be found chomping at the bit to perform at benefit shows put on by worthy causes, such as the Migrant Youth Conference hosted by WWU.

To the smiling chagrin of many connoisseurs, hip hop as a positive (even therapeutic) form of expression has mostly been overlooked by the Hot 100 portion of these United States, but by following through on their promise of working to make Bellingham (and thus the entire universe) a better place, Estrella lives up to their utterance of "if you're an emcee or involved with hip hop in any way, and hip hop is part of who you are, you can be an ambassador, it's kind of your responsibility to make hip hop live wherever you are."

To that end, Estrella has produced a super good 45-minute mixtape (The Good Mixtape, recorded by Jackson Long). Nonstop along one track is confident lyrical content, a series of anthemy beats reminiscent of RJD2, and a problem-free freestyle section. The mixtape is very well produced, and will only serve to solidify your belief that Estrella is truly capable of residing in the inhalations and exhalations of Bellingham, then bringing home Good Hip-Hop For The People (their upcoming album due out this spring).

Through their focused effort towards "persistence, passion, and praxis" Estrella hopes to inspire Hamsters to understand the roots of hip-hop and respect the culture. "You can only rap for so long without really saying anything. There is a difference between an emcee and a rapper. A rapper can put words together that rhyme. An emcee understands the link between the history, the now, and the future. Hopefully, as the music flourishes, the other elements will fall into place too." - joseph westover, March 2006, whats up magazine, bellingham


estrella- the good mixtape (2006)

Radio play on:

KUGS 89.3 FM Bellingham
KEXP 90.3 FM Seattle



MCs Taybot and Praxis came together through a mutual passion for music and a longing to take the Bellingham hip-hop scene to the next level. With few groups respecting the culture, Taybot and Praxis put their pens to the pad to bring that real hip-hop back, yet still take it forward.

Driven by the pain, joy and everything-in-between of living, and a belief that hip-hop belongs to the people and must speak for them, estrella was solidified when DJ Swervewon completed the circle.

Persisting through trials of disappointment and criticism, in just over the span of two years, estrella continues building steam in the seattle hip hop scene. Having built experience sharing the stage with acts like The Perceptionists, Blue Scholars, Common Market, Sleep, C-Rayz Walz,Sweatshop Union, One Be Lo, 2MEX, The Visionaries, and Lyrics Born as well as many local acts; estrella continues their rise in the horizon.