Common Market: 8th Annual Program – Rap/Hip-Hop Album IMA Winner

Common Market
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Dave Carducci
davecarducci (at)

Common Market

Before coming together to form Common Market in 2005, Sabzi and RA Scion both staked a name for themselves in the Seattle hip-hop scene – the former as an up and coming producer and one-half of the groundbreaking duo Blue Scholars, the latter as a humble, well-traveled solo emcee. Their paths crossed through the Baha’i faith and their political and spiritual approach to hip-hop music.

After collaborating on a couple tracks on RA Scion’s 2004 solo project, Live and Learn, the duo began work in the sweltering heat of an attic-based studio for what would eventually become the 14-track self-titled Common Market LP, released in October 2005. An advance copy caught the ear of KRS-One, who praised the album and RA Scion for “spitting in the Tradition of the conscious Hiphop movement.” The Blastmaster then flew up to rock Common Market’s album release party in Seattle, then taking the duo on the road with him on the Temple of Hip-hop tour.

Distinguishing this album from his previous body of work, Sabzi showcases his versatility as a producer, custom-fitting his hard-knocking drums and melodic samples to fit RA Scion’s classic delivery. Like a true mic veteran, RA flips between abstract imagery, straight-forward slogans and storytelling with an unmistakable delivery you would expect from someone well-versed in classic boom-bap hip-hop from the era of Brother J, Beatnuts and A Tribe Called Quest. More than just another throwback album, Common Market also dares to pose questions about religion, politics and the state of mainstream hip-hop. At the core of Common Market’s music is a critical, unapologetic world view that change is not only necessary, it is inevitable, and can only come about through having love for and serving the people.

In the brief time since Common Market dropped their extraordinary debut album, the duo has gathered praise as Seattle Weekly’s 2006 Best New Artist and performing slots on grand stages such as Sasquatch Festival and The Capitol Hill Block Party. They have shared the stage with the likes of KRS-One, Zion I, Ghostface Killah and The Coup. The album’s regional success, along with the rising tidal wave of Northwest hip-hop, has poised the group for a serious push into the national scene, as the Common Market LP has been mixed and mastered by legendary Seattle music engineer Martin Feveyear and repackaged with new album cover art. Common Market will be the first official new release of Mass Line, a co-op indie record label run by Common Market, Blue Scholars and Gabriel Teodros.