The Early Portion: Burnell Washburn | Music | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly


The Early Portion: Burnell Washburn

Portia Early talks to SLC's hip-hop wunderkind.


The monthly Early Portion focuses on UtahFM DJ Portia Early’s ( Mondays, 3-6 p.m.) take on the local music scene via interviews, CD reviews and Portia’s personal reflections on what’s going down around town.

Young Burnell Washburn started performing in Utah about three or four years ago.

It started at open-mic nights, house parties, coffee shops and smaller venues such as The Circuit, Zanzibar and Mo’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill. He’s only 20 years old, and already Washburn has an enormous local following. And he’s opened for a few big names, too (did someone say Del Tha Funkee Homosapien?).

“Performing open-mic nights and small venues is a great way to get your foot in the door and gain experience onstage,” Washburn says. “After a year or two of performing at these types of places, I was able to build a big enough following to catch the attention of some bigger venues.”

Washburn, a Utah native, also played at 2010’s huge Desert Rocks and Powellapalooza shows. And, starting May 6, he’s going on tourpromoting his brand-spanking-new album, Food Of Love.

The tour will feature nationally renowned hip-hoppers like RJD2, CunninLynguists,%uFFFDBlue Scholars and Whiskey Blanket. Utahns Dumb Luck and GeorgeLife also will be joining Washburn. Washburn seems like he has dumb luck himself, but the truth is this little rap prodigy isn’t all about who he knows. He’s damned good. You can hear for yourself via Washburn’s website,

Washburn thinks that Utah’s hip-hop scene is wonderful.

“Our scene is young, and it is evolving and spreading fast!” Washburn says. “Almost every day, I meet a new kid who makes beats or writes flows. Many of them are whack, but some%uFFFDhave%uFFFDskills that stack%uFFFDhigher than Mount Olympus.

“There is something about the music made here that you just don’t hear anywhere else. We definitely have our own sound, but our own sound is widely diverse and intriguing. Through Utah’s hip-hop scene, I have built a vast network that has become my family. I keep making more and more friends because of hip hop, and we all do everything we can to help each other succeed. I have found that the hip-hop scene here is extremely welcoming, as long as you are humble and respectful. Overall, hip-hop is blowing up in Utah, and nobody can stop it.”

Besides hitting the road and supporting his new album, Washburn also works closely with local companies Positive Apparel, Borosyndicate Productions and Uprok.

Washburn says at times it can be hard to get certain people to take him seriously because of his age.
However, “If you seem like a seasoned vet who’s been around the block and doesn’t take guff, nobody will try to mess with you,” Washburn says. “I am treated fairly well as an artist.”

As he should be. He’s business-savvy, talented and helping enormously to put Utah hip hop on the map.

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