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Rap Finesse

Hip hop is expanding in sound & style

We haven’t done a list on hip-hop for years. In 2015: Adam Vida, Anderson .Paak & Goldlink were our hope to revive hip-hop. As much as our love for them have grown more than many, our focus has still been with dance & soul music.

We did collect fifty songs with emcees that got talent. More for their cadence and flow than lyrical depth, but with one usually comes the other (not always). These emcees more than ever before come from different backgrounds with all types of styles and sounds. We’ve even got some from the UK.

I bet the next one in two years will have even more countries.

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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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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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False Hopes by Doomtree

"I'm trying to free up them wings, trying to bare some teeth."

In an interview with Ryan Olson on The Local Show, Ryan talks about some of his favorite music from the Midwest, one being from Doomtree’s very own Cecil Otter.

The song he talks about, Traveling Dunk Tank, is off of Doomtree’s first album, False Hopes. I talked about one of False Hopes‘s singles, Flex, a year back, but I had to showoff the rest of the album, thanks to Ryan.

Unlike Doomtree’s latest self-titled album, False Hopes is set up with one hit after another. It’s just one of those […]

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Made Like Us by Paper Tiger of Doomtree

It's no Doomtree, but it's still Minnesota nice.

What the hell’s a Doomtree anyway My guess is it’s got something to do with the Tree of Life, maybe its arch enemy!… maybe not. Doomtree is a collective consisting of a mix of MC’s and DJ/producers from Minneapolis, including Paper Tiger. I’ve been following Doomtree ever since I heard “Flex” – check it, guaranteed like. And now for the second time, one of the group members has created a solo project – Paper Tiger’s Made Like Us.

My first thoughts after listening to Made Like Us was that it’s got some killer beats and vocals, namely Dessa, but why not include some of the MC’s I’ve come to love with Paper Tiger’s beats A recent interview with Paper Tiger at Sunset in the Rearview brought up this very question. Apparently he wanted to go solo on this one and make it all his own. Now the question is if he pulled it off… (I’d say so)

Question: On the last track of the album, “Cigana” has about half a minute of silence in the middle – why is it that on some albums the last track has a silent part towards the middle or at the end The first person who can answer this for me will get entered into the contest we’re holding next month- I really want to know!

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Drumsticks by Doomtree

"DTR here we are, holla atcha rap group."

Banner - Doomtree (album)

Way back in ’08 I was obsessed with a little known group from Minneapolis called Doomtree. I was just getting over my fixation with Flex, a song from their False Hopes album, when I heard news of an upcoming release. “Drumsticks” premiered on the group’s site a couple weeks later, and the beat blew me away. Its natural sounds with a heavy kick bass made the hairs on my neck stand up. I couldn’t wait for the release, and when it rolled around I was in for a surpise… unfortunately, not a good one. The album didn’t come close to that of False Hopes, and although, it packed in a few noticeable tracks, the album as a whole was nothing praiseworthy. I still love this track, though, and I know you will too.

I actually wanted to show y’all the video of “Drumsticks” that made “the hairs on my neck stand up”, but all I could come up with was something they did after the release (found here). I gotta say the video isn’t all that impressive; partly because of the “bicycle gang” (not my thing), but mostly due to the shotty camera work and poor video editing. So instead I put up a video from another song off the album, “Game Over”, which is not only a good listen but highly entertaining, and also has some nice shots of the city.

Enjoy it all, and make sure you share your thoughts. I can’t tell y’all enough how much I love to hear your opinions, it helps me determine what and what not to post up on here!

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Beat it Loose by Mel Gibson and the Pants

These guys really are one of a kind.

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Mel Gibson and the Pants is that strange child no one gets at first, but eventually realizes their genius(ness)…

I reviewed MGatP’s album (w/ Guitar) about two months back, but didn’t give Beat it Loose (a song on the album) much thought because I wasn’t quite sure what I felt about it, yet. Well, a good two months later and I finally have a solid opinion. Beat it Loose is becoming one of my favorite songs by the group/band. At first, I was a little skeptical about the beat, like I am with a lot of other MGatP songs, but it grew on me… like a lot of other MGatP songs. The song features Doomtree‘s Cecil Otter & Harold Sanders Jr. (MC for MGatP) on the mic. The two work well together, and do a phenomenal job of flowing off each other and the beat (which I can’t imagine is easy). This may not be something you enjoy at first, but give it time… trust me, it’ll grow on you… or at least one of the songs on this album will.

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Flex by Doomtree

"Had enough? Well, yea... that's enough."

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I’ve always wondered what style of hip-hop people outside the U.S. like. I decided to show a friend of mine from Wales Doomtree’s Flex, but had a feeling it wouldn’t be his “cup of tea”. I asked him if he liked it, and he told me “it sounded like a bunch of angry white kids”. At first, I got defensive, but eventually saw his point. The song sounds like a bunch of coked-up, hyperactive guys who may not know half the shit they say, but say it well.

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w/ Guitar by Mel Gibson and the Pants

Silly name, quality sound.

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Hailing from my hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Mel Gibson and the Pants (MGP) are a band with a peculiar sound with an even more peculiar name. But don’t let the name throw you off, MGP is a midwest group with a quality sound. Though their music includes a midwest style, MGP comes up with a new flavor of hip-hop incorporating electro-rock, drum & bass, and of course hip-hop. With Riley Hartnet’s maginifecent guitar riffs and Harold Sander’s (J.R.) thought provoking rhymes, MGP pulls off something never “seen” before.

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