On Wednesday, March 8th, Seattle hip-hop pioneer Jonathan Moore passed away at the age of 47. While details of his death have not been shared, friends and fans knew he had been ailing. Just last year, The Physics and Jake One held a benefit show at The Crocodile for his medical fund, after Moore’s body rejected a much-needed kidney transplant.
It’s hard to know where to start in listing Moore’s accomplishments and contributions to the Seattle hip-hop scene. He was a founding member of the Source of Labor rap crew, performing under the name MC Wordsayer. (Watch a Source of Labor performance via long-running video series Coolout TV above.) He booked hip-hop shows at legendary local venue RKCNDY, a club mostly known for hosting “grunge” acts at the time. He was the host of “Sunday Night Sound Sessions” on KUBE, breaking new artists on the airwaves with every show. And KEXP was fortunate to have Moore serve as a member of our Advisory Council, and to have his invaluable assistance on the KEXP Documentary series, Hip Hop: The New Seattle Sound.
His death is an incredible blow to the Seattle music scene, but the impact he had during his too-brief life will live on forever at every hip-hop concert, on every hip-hop radio show, and in every rhyme a young future MC begins to craft. KEXP sends our thoughts and love to his friends and family.
vintage Sureshot flyers, courtesy of DJ Chilly
“My real college education was on Sundays at Sit & Spin. That’s where I learned the power of being positive, the power of community, and the power of working hard and having fun. Sureshot Sundays and the hip-hop scene at that time are really what made me want to do something meaningful with music. Jonathan Moore was an amazing teacher and person. I can’t thank him enough for all he’s done and helped us build here in Seattle not just back then, but through his whole life. Rest in peace.” — DJ Chilly“Jonathan Moore was a vibrant, intelligent part of our community and truly loved music as much as any of us. He was narrator of the historical intro to, and collaborator on our KEXP Documentaries series Hip Hop: The New Seattle Sound. He consulted on all ten episodes and brought in Ishmael Butler and Vitamin D for one-of-a-kind interviews. It was enlightening to work and write with him and we have been music friends ever since. May we all make such a beautiful contribution to the world. We will miss Mayor of Seattle Hip Hop, Jonathan Moore.” — DJ Michele Myers“He was a powerfully wise man with a never-ending commitment to our community. I recall conferring with him when he was a member of the KEXP Advisory Council back in the early Dexter days. I’d always get a dose of wisdom — and the exchange itself was always uplifting. Every time. Thank you, Jonathan.” — Tom Mara, KEXP Executive Director“He was a true brother: always warm and friendly while being serious and focused. He was comfortable on stage and showed support for anything local by always being on the scene. It’s a shame he’s gone.” — Johnny Horn“So sad to hear of Jonathan Moore passing. Such a vital part of the Seattle scene and a true champion of art and artists. We worked on a variety of projects together over the years and he was directly responsible for so many amazing club nights that transformed the city. He gave many artists their first break, and I know of many who credit him with their success. Too fucking young. Damn” — Darek Mazzone
A documentary produced by KEXP DJ Darek Mazzone for the EMP (now MoPOP) in 2001.
Watch Moore speak at a hip-hop peace rally at Westlake Center after a shooting in Pioneer Square in 2000.