This December, we’ll be celebrating two years of The Thesis with a pair of shows: our typical First Thursday evening at Kelly’s Olympian on December 1 as well as a very special all-ages edition at Hoop Dreams on December 2. I’ve waxed nostalgic about the early history of this event in this space before, but it’s worth noting just how much has changed since the last pair of anniversary shows we threw back in 2015.
Willamette Week had three hip-hop artists in the top 10 of their annual Best New Band poll, McMenamins began the monthly Mic Check hip-hop series, Portland Mercury started the bi-weekly Sneaker Wave hip-hop column, Rontoms started running all hip-hop Sunday Sessions lineups for the first time, Thirsty City concluded their monthly concert series due to The Know closing, Mic Capes captivated the entire city with his debut album Concrete Dreams, and just recently, Aminé delivered what may have been the most significant Portland music moment of the decade in his performance of “Caroline” this week on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (watch below).
Meanwhile, we’ve been regularly hosting and promoting sold-out monthly shows at Kelly’s Olympian. The Thesis has never been the only monthly series, and it’s certainly not the first monthly hip-hop series, but we’ve been proud to continue throwing lineups that showcase emerging talent. In December, we host a pair of shows—the first of which will be a little different from our usual formula. As we enter our third year, we will have three co-headliners gracing our stage.
On Thursday, December 1, Illmaculate will perform his first headlining set in Portland since the now infamous Blue Monk incident of 2014. Blossom, fresh off her being named XRAY.fm’s featured artist of the month will play The Thesis for the third time. Lastly, ROBy will be our third headliner, continuing to bring material off his Cartoon Summers mixtape to the Portland masses.
The next day on Friday, December 2, we’ll host a show for the ages—all ages to be exact. Only the second ever all-ages Thesis show, it will bring together four of Portland’s most promising squads: SQD (a fluid crew including Heff Boogie, A-RU$$ and Tugg), STRAY (with Donte Thomas, Chris Lee and Chief), Gutter Family Entertainment (with HV Gutter and Bocha), and RARE VIBE (featuring Drae Slapz, Lang and Nick B).
The STRAY crew seems most poised to steal the show after Donte Thomas put on what might have been the best Thesis headlining set of the year back in October and Chris Lee continues to be one of the most talented emcees in the region. Here’s to hoping Chief brings the STRAY crew together for the future-classic cut "With My Dawgs" featuring Thomas—listen below.