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May 9th, 2012 WW Staff | Cover Story
 

Best New Band 2012

10 local acts that Portland’s music insiders think you should hear.

     
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IMAGE: Mike Grippi

 6. Tope

  • 46.5 Points
  • Formed: Started playing shows in high school, formed his group TxE in 2009.
  • Sounds like: Laid-back regional hip-hop that plays nice with Portland’s indie-rock scene.

A few weeks ago, Anthony “Tope” Anderson performed in front of students at Central Catholic High School. Some kids thought the freshly shaven, baby-faced MC was one of them. “I almost wanted to lie,” he says. “When I don’t shave, I look 19.”

It has only been eight years since Anderson was one of those kids, playing Central Catholic talent shows while a student there. “Those were always really awkward,” says the 26-year-old MC-producer. “But it was kind of a big thing. Everyone knew I rapped, even then.”

Making it outside of Central Catholic has been trickier. “I kind of knew it would be one of those things where I’d have to put out like 10 albums before anyone knows who I am,” Anderson says. These days, anyone paying attention to the Portland hip-hop scene—or, considering his contributions to the PDX Pop Now! festival and last year’s record deal with respected local indie-rock imprint Amigo/Amiga, the Portland music scene in general—knows Tope’s smooth flow and soulful production. They might also know his other groups, Living Proof and TxE. (The latter, with rapper Epp and rapper-producer G_Force, collected almost enough votes to place on the poll alongside Tope.)

Anderson began his career as the teenage hype man to now-retired Portland MC Manic D (“I didn’t know what the hell I was doing,” he admits now). He was refining his flow and learning the basics of production at age 19 when his mom died. For a while, Anderson quit music altogether. “I just didn’t have anything to say,” he says. “But, after getting through the initial pain of it, I guess it was motivation. My mom was always a big supporter.”

Tope is committed to music these days—his latest solo album, Until the Next Time We Meet, garnered national praise and in April he paid his rent with music for the first time—but he says he’s still finding himself as an artist. His next EP, he says, will be his most personal project to date. “I’m not Luck-One, I’m not Illmaculate, I’m not Cool Nutz,” Anderson says. “I’m just trying to find my lane. I’ll never be one of the top five rappers in Portland, but hopefully someday I’ll have a top-10 album.” CASEY JARMAN.

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