If you ran into him on the street with his son or saw him at work as a Special Education teacher you might not put it together. But if you heard him rap it would all make perfect sense. At this point in his journey, Frankie Stones, a Pacific Northwest based emcee and producer from a small beach town on the Oregon coast, has been making hip-hop music for almost 20 years. Stones is an extremely skillful and versatile wordsmith with a powerful stage presence. He combines poetic word wizardry, catchy melodies and nasty northwest hip-hop production to bring something unique and refreshing to hip hop music.
Frankie Stones was born in 1981 in Manzanita, Oregon shortly after his parents and older brother moved there from Long Island, New York. They left New York because his father had just been released from prison to start a new life on the west coast. And so, Frankie Stones’s launch pad, conceived out of work release, from the big apple to the little apple.
He always had a love for music and found himself on stage performing as early as five years old, maybe not rapping yet, but always with a mic in his hand. His first exposure to hip hop came around the fourth grade from none other than 2 Live Crew. He heard the tape in his childhood friend and future crewmember Kwyet One’s basement and has been hooked ever since. In Middle School he would always listen to his Walkman on the bus, rocking anything from Tribe Called Quest, 2 Pac, Bone Thugs n’ Harmony and Nas to Nirvana and Pearl Jam. By the time he was in high school he was leaving the mainstream for the underground and found himself immersed in mix tapes given to him by another childhood homie Jeff James, now Stones’s main partner in hip hop. The tapes were coming to his small beach town from a crew in Portland known as Forgotten Dialect, in which a few of the members had connections to Manzanita. His head was being filled with the sounds of Freestyle Fellowship, Camp Lo, Poor Righteous Teachers, Latyrx, Living Legends and many more.
By the time he was fourteen Frankie Stones started rapping. It began as hanging out late nights in the Manzanita City Park and freestyling with his friends, which led to writing his own rhymes. Frankie Stones wrote his first verse in Spanish class with Jeff James. From there his love for rapping and the notebooks he filled with rhymes continued to grow exponentially.
By the time they were sixteen, Frankie Stones, Kwyet One and Jeff James had started a rap crew with a few other friends called Elite Souls Kreation. They began recording songs in Jeff James’s bedroom using a keyboard and karaoke machine and never stopped. Elite Souls Kreation put out one album shortly after they graduated from high school in 1999. They got 50 CD’s and 50 tapes. They recorded it on a four track in Frankie Stones’s apartment while him and Jeff James where going to college at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Oregon. Since this humble beginning Elite Souls Kreation evolved into Western Medicine. They built up their own professional recording studio and have developed a huge library of songs. Frankie Stones has independently put out two solo albums, his first “The Serious Project” in 2002 and his most recent “Love Hate n’ Marriage” in 2007. He has collaborated on many other releases, including Western Medicine’s self-titled and only official crew album in 2007. Frankie Stones and fellow Western Medicine member Kwyet One formed the Blue Kollar Ballers and have released two projects, an EP called “Off the Clock” in 2006 and a full-length album entitled “Shadowbox” in 2010. Frankie Stones is also part of an acoustic rap group with Utah Fake, a long time friend and folk singer. This unlikely duo calls themselves “Lodestar.” Lodestar independently released their first album “Soul Folk Rap” in 2008. Although they love to make records, Frankie Stones and his crew are real emcees and love to get on stage even more.
Stones has been performing for almost as long as he has been rapping. When they were teenagers Stones and his crew Western Medicine would take advantage of any opportunity to show off what they did on stage. However, due to the small beach town they came up in they would often find themselves rapping under some unique and often uninviting circumstances, like over local jam bands at community events, with rock bands at high school talent shows and even over random instrumentals played by Dj’s at high school dances. As Adolescence gave way to adulthood Western Medicine’s performance venue changed to local bars, art walks and parties, while always having to work extra hard to gain acceptance for hip hop in a small town.
The trio eventually grew weary of these awkward encounters, so they bought a PA and began throwing their own shows at any place that would rent them the space. The shows started out like their town, real small, but after a few years the local youth caught on and Western Medicine had created a hip-hop microcosm in their little beach town. They used the energy as a platform to build on and networked with the hip-hop community outside their local area. They brought other rappers from as far away as Los Angeles and Baltimore to perform in Manzanita, and had great success in doing so. They shared the stage with highly acclaimed artists, such as 2Mex , Life Rexall, Existereo, Sleep (Chicharones), Smoke (Oldominion), Sandpeoples, Labtekwon, Drunken Immortals, Animal Farm and Mic Crenshaw to name a few. However, all good things must come to an end. As the shows grew larger so did the negative attention hip-hop received in their small beach town. The local police in conjunction with vacationers looking for a nice quiet evening at the beach started putting a damper on every show. Eventually, due to small town politics it became increasingly difficult for the crew to rent a space to throw a show in their own town.
Frankie Stones currently lives in Portland, Oregon, while his crew Western Medicine seems to have all but dissolved. However, Stones and his ex-fellow Western Medicine member Jeff James continue to independently make records and do shows across the Pacific Northwest. Frankie Stones has operated as dark horses of the Northwest underground hip-hop community for quite sometime, but with his upcoming Album "Rampant Illness,” due to release in 2015, Frankie Stones appears to be at the cusp of a regional breakthrough. Stay tuned and support independent music.