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A Taste of Minneapolis

What's next for the Twin Cities music scene

I grew up listening to Prince mostly because of my pops, living in a suburb South of St. Paul, but didn’t appreciate the Minneapolis music scene until I got out of it and left for college out West.

There I started to appreciate hip-hop and R&B on a much more personal level, getting in much deeper with Prince & Atmosphere. When I studied abroad I got into other Minnesota acts: Solid Gold, GAYNGS and Mel Gibson & the Pants. Finally, in the Bay Area it was Polica, Tickle Torture, thestand4rd, and most recently, Morly. Well, kinda.

I stayed in Minneapolis for a few years after college and covered Theophilus London at The Loft in early 2012. There I heard one of the openers and I fell in love (with her voice). It belonged to Katy Morley, now Morly. I remember tracking Astronautalis and her down to see if they had any music released. She didn’t, but I remember her telling me something was in the works.

Four years later and I run into her music while researching a post on Minneapolis (this one). Her voice is even more touching and her piano playing stands out more.

It’s good to have such talent sprouting from the Twin Cities. Here’s a dozen or so and their songs.

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Hiero Day 2015

Annual festival in Oakland

Hieroglyphics is a hip hop group out of Northern California. Each year they celebrate new hip hop talent with their own festival in Oakland on Labor Day. I got the chance to cover their show this year and even though there were over a dozen quality performers to see on each stage, I was there for one.

It took me over three hours to get to Hiero Day, public transit wasn’t doing so well. When I got there the temp had to be hitting on 90 and everyone was looking for shade to sit in. But I had to find Anderson .Paak. The main reason I was there.

I caught him right before his performance on the Third Eye stage. I ran up to him like a giddy fool and blathered about my love for his music. When I realized how foolish I was sounding, his manager assured me that they all felt the same way too. We talked a bit longer about other LA emcees, I actually told him the only other one that could compete with him was Doja Cat. He got a kick out of it.

His performance on stage had just as much character as his music, along with the short time I talked to him. The day was a highlight I’ll be holding on to at least until next Labor Day.

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Hip Hop + Heartbreak

For your Valentine's Day, or anti-Valentine's Day

This is the first playlist I’ve collaborated on. I gave up about half the songs for her, but she helped give this playlist more direction and make more sense. When I usually create playlists I tend to miss out on the obvious, and get called out for it later, but she kept me in check for this one. Plus she had a few good songs (more than me).

Here’s Lauren’s intro to our Valentine’s Day playlist, or anti-Valentine’s Day, “Hip Hop & Heartbreak.”

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Outside Lands 2014

Fulfilling all your sensual needs in SF's park

I taught a friend a new word this week. I thought it summed up Outside Lands pretty well and most festivals in general. It’s got a negative connotation to it, but a TA at my University once defined himself as a hedonist and at the time it sounded like the most honest look at one’s life I had ever heard. I don’t mean it in its extreme, as it’s often taken, but to some extent it’s what most festivals are in the business for, the senses.

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Know Good Indie Labels, 2013

12 independent record labels with a well imagined roster

Independent record labels are sprouting up all over the place in location & style. And the ones that are doing it right not only have a choice selection in catalogue, but also take the time to artfully craft their image as they do their artists.

Each of these 12 labels sport some of the most well respected producers & musicians that belong on this blog and create a culture with style around their music. On here I may point out a few that lack in proper online presence, but they are all doing it right when it comes to the perception of this era’s evolution in music labels.

Check out the Top 12 Labels »

Mixes & Mashups of Soundset 2011 Headliners

Whole 'lotta Big Boi, the best De La Soul and some interesting Atmo

Soundset 2011 is right around the corner, so I thought I’d gather the best remixes & mashups of the lineup. Well, I quickly found out that people don’t really mashup underground hip-hop, so I turned to the top three headliners – Atmosphere, Big Boi & De La Soul.

De La Soul had a decent amount, but the good ones weren’t easy to find (e.g. Emancipator’s mash). Big Boi, as expected, had well over any of the others and wasn’t easy to narrow down to seven (yes, it was hard to narrow it to 7!). Lastly, Atmosphere was by far the most difficult to find. I don’t know how in hell […]

Check out All the Mix/Mash Goodness »

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Atmosphere ·· The Family Sign

with a look at the family's therapy sessions

The Family Sign brings an intimate look into the members of Atmosphere. In their recent video therapy sessions, the group sits down with Dr. Ralph Borka and hashes out some of the issues they’ve had as a group over the years. However, the real sentiment lies is in their seventh studio album, where Slug dives into his life as an aging emcee and the group, more than ever, shows where their roots truly lie.

The most noticeable change in The Family Sign is Slug’s style. Many have criticized it, claiming he’s lost his edge over the past few years. As true as this may be, when you’re almost hitting on 40, edgy may not be what you’re going for. But with the loss of a youthful arrogance, a more humble emcee emerged, expressing the sentimental side of Sean and pushing the group in a different direction. But as fresh as their new style is, it still relies on the place that made them so great.

We all know Slug is know for his Minnesota love, but The Family Sign, more than ever, is a true ode to MN. The album shows clear Minnesota ties through its themes and choice of instrumentals, but more importantly is a representation of the Twin Cities’ growing scene. Atmosphere may be the most influential group in the area right now, but they’re only at the tip of the Minnesota music culture.

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Music that Got Me Blogging About Music (Part 1)

The Midwest - with a little East Coast & Florida mixed in

I decided to compile a list of 25 artists that I discovered (or rediscovered) in college and was the driving force to get this music blog up and running. The list is broken into five categories – Midwest/East Coast hip-hop, West Coast hip-hop, International/non hip-hop music, Bay Area hip-hop and finally my top five. I plan on posting one per week for the next five weeks (each Sunday), but you know how that goes. Make sure to stay tuned in.

For the first part I decided to go with the Midwest because that’s where I’m from. Unfortunately, my Midwest & East Coast influences are lacking on this list, probably because I went to college in Arizona, heavily influenced by the West Coast. Anyways, I think you’ll enjoy these six musicians from the heart of America – some you may know and some you’ll get to know (you better!) […]

Check out the Midwest’s best »

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Atmosphere – She’s Enough

The Family Sign is inching closer with a second single release

Here’s the second single off Atmo’s upcoming album, The Family Sign. Slug’s down to earth rhymes seem to be consistent in “She’s Enough” and all of his latest work – I guess that’s what comes with age, more stories to tell and less ideologies to preach. Whichever Slug you’ve grown to love, it’s good to see the MC come to age.

Verdicts still out till the album drops April 12, see you then.

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Atmosphere – Just for Show

The first single off their upcoming LP, The Family Sign

In an interview last night on The Current, Slug of Atmosphere introduced the first single off his upcoming album, The Family Sign. In the interview, Slug talks about the emergence of ‘rap bands’, highlighting The Roots, explaining they’re more than just the everyday jam bands we see popping up today.

He also goes into how Atmosphere is becoming a jam band with two instrumentalists, a guitarist & keyboardist, who were added around six years ago. It’s quiter coincidental calling Atmosphere a jam bad when their newest single, “Just For Show”, sounds a hell of a lot like one – with Slugs rhymes over top.

Can’t wait to hear what’s to come in The Family Sign, which’ll be out April 12!

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