ThaWilsonBlock Magazine Issue79

Hip Hop: The Emergence of Da Pantha (Article by Jhantu Randall)

Listen to Seven Da Pantha's music   ///   Article by Jhantu Randall
It was a hot July day stuck in traffic trying to get to the library on 56th and South Tacoma way. Now a library may sound like an unusual place to meet a rapper for an interview, but on second thought, the location made perfect sense. For a student of Hip Hop that comes from the era of lyricism, to be surrounded by the written word would be be vital.

I pull into a beaten down parking lot and parked alongside a few older model cars scattered about throughout that the tattered strip. As I get out of the car, I meet up with a man known to people as Seven Da Pantha. He stood just outside the doorway as he greeted me and asked me to excuse him for a minute while he went and grabbed his phone from the charger. Many assume that rappers, especially local ones would run the stereotype of overplaying a stage persona, but Seven goes against that idea. In reality, his stage show is darker, more reflective and at times forcefully intimate as his lyrics are presented in a way to strike the audience in a precise manner. The man himself carries a lighter presence about him.

Almost as if the stage is truly his therapy and to go without it would be to ignore that which presents him peace. His performances are individual live entries into an audio time capsule of that moment in time and his daily grind merely requires him to take notice of the small moments.

Seven Da Pantha dropped his debut project in 2004 and has been consistently putting out work ever since. He has released 10 albums as a solo artist and was apart of 3 group projects as well. Originally from New York, he really found success in music when he moved to North Carolina. When I asked why he left New York he said, “I found success in music really in North Carolina. In New York I was just a face in a large crowd.”

He became associated with Gerald “ReaLife” Beamon and Crown the Kings within 2 weeks of moving to Tacoma 2 years ago. “No lie, I came to Washington on a Wednesday and met Raz Simone, who he had known through Facebook, at a spot in Seattle and was asked to go on tour the next week.”

He was immediately put on the Unruly Mess I made tour with Macklemore and Raz Simone which is where he first met Gerald Beamon which lead to Crown the Kings.

I was interested in his influences because his music always holds a strong black social conscious at the base of nearly all his songs. The son of a Black Panther, he was raised to live with pride in the community, it was clear who you turned to and who you stayed away from. He began rhyming at 11 but didn’t really begin to take music seriously until college where he played football. The 6’3 Seven said he avoided basketball mainly due to the assumption that he should play due to his height. During college he began to think about a future that football could bring but decided to take his talents with words and test his skill on stage. He was the standout at his first show and from there he seemed to be on a streak all through New York City. In the early part of his career he had performed with KRS-1 who brought him out to spit as he switched up the baseline to match Seven’s flow. After showing him a playback, one of the most respected emcee’s in hip hop told Seven to run with the gift.

After hearing this small portion of his life story, I wondered how he isn’t known beyond a concentrated group of core fans?

Being a man of reflection, we delved into the issue of politics in the industry. Through a loom of questions the only response that wouldn’t set off a firestorm basically states that although lyrical Hip Hop that tells stories may not be in demand at the time being but for fans who want to hear that style artists like Seven the Panther will be there to supply the demand.

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