... Pearl Dragon
After meeting at a Spank Rock show in Seattle, Wash., Pearl Nelson, aka Pearl Dragon, impressed Spank Rock MC Naeem Juwan with his freestyling hip-hop prowess. The two stayed in touch, and six months later Spank Rock invited Dragon to open the West Coast leg of their tour.
Fast-forward to the present. Dragon, 25, is spending the better part of his summer in Philly recording, building and connecting. "I love this city," he beams. "It's gritty, but people show so much love out here. They respect your artistry."
Dragon's lyrics are peppered with social commentary, but he's not immune to using party music to get his point across. "My subject matter varies from politics to pussy-poppin'. I don't wanna be locked into any box. I think Black Thought said it best: 'People can't digest apples right now, so you gotta give 'em applesauce.' You have to be clever about how you present a message in your music. If you can get people to dance to music that has a message, that's even more political."
Coming from a town whose hip-hop identity stops at Sir Mix-A-Lot, Pearl is determined to broadcast the fact that his city is brimming with talent and drive. "We had grunge, but as far as hip-hop goes, everybody wants to be the first to make a mark. We take a lot of our influence from the Bay Area on the independent hustle. Nobody's gonna take notice unless you put yourself out there.
"I feel like I'm a good ambassador for Seattle. I just wanna carry on the legacy of great musicians from the grunge era, and further back to Jimi Hendrix and Quincy Jones. When it comes down to it, good music will stand on its own."