Last night, the lucky-thirteenth edition of The Corner- Candidt's much-beloved monthly hiphop showcase at The Rendezvous- went down without a hitch as always, headlined by Seattle's most controversial MC, Fatal Lucciauno. It was another classic Corner- complete with house party vibe and intimate performances. Tacoma grinder J-Mar kept it surprisingly soulful with a battery of backup singers, and rhymed hard times over a couple of classic D'Angelo instrumentals- and Beacon Hillionaires Helladope proved why they're the illest up & coming crew in the town.

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The main event, however, was a dimunitive MC that hobbled out onstage, holding a cup and a cardboard sign reading "Will Rap For Food". Funny, and more self-aware than 99.9% of the MC's that could be said to be on a "gangster tip", Fatal handed off his props, discarded this brief bit of comedy, to get to the serious business at hand.

If you've never seen Mr. Lucciauno, you might not get it- but the guy has the most commanding stage presence in the scene, the swagger of a general, and a hellafied heart, a palpable quality, immediately recognizable. Appropritately, the Corner crowd was locked right in- going patently nutso during his raucous songs (including several new joints that sounded incredible, such as the roof-on-fire banger celebrating his Sportn' Life family), yet attentive to the utmost; applause was loud but brief, as every ear hung on his words between cuts. When he spoke, it was no-bullshit pin-drop silent in that packed-out room- as he dedicated his set to the souls who couldn't figure out how to change their life, as he asked the crowd to chant "DYME DEF" and ever-graciously, "SUPPORT THE CROC". (Because, as he said here- "they're under the microscope like I am now".) When Fatal said "L's up"- the call to throw up The Life- seemingly every hand shot up.

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Fatal's DJ Swervewon started to play a crowd favorite- the rowdy pre-Only Forgotten Son nihilst-rap "Fatal's World"- but Lucciauno told him to cut it off- seemingly closing a chapter in his narrative. Instead he launched into his set-closer, the new Jake One-produced cut "Cry For Help"- where the MC wonders how he'd be perceived if he really did all the things people say:

What If I
Maybe then you would listen and wish you had paid more attention to me
What If I
Maybe then you would try to understand why am what i am- a g
What If I
Maybe then i wouldnt feel like a loser every time i didnt win
What If I
Oh i get it, if i aint fake & fraudulent, then i aint fittin it

I think of the other night at the War Room, where Fatal confided- "I am absolutely growing as an individual- but I won't turn my back on where I'm from, never." I would never ask him to. Lucciauno has emerged as the keynote MC of the Central District, a position which bears it's own uncomfortable, symbolic weight- there were a couple of people last night who saw parrellels to 2Pac's fiery orator, shouldering the burden of every hood.

If it sounds like I'm lionizing the dude, trust me- he needs no help; his life, his literal trial and tribulations have put him in a unique situation, making his art more potent and his truth more truthful. No offense to anyone, including myself for that matter- but right now, Fatal Lucciauno is hands down, L's UP, the most important rap artist in Seattle.

(thanks to Terry Creighton for the photos)