Top 20 best Minnesota rappers: #20-11

Categories: Lists
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17> Big Jess
Origin: Minneapolis | Active: 1997 - present | Songs: "Now You Know," "Lord Please" and "Lost in Time"
It's kinda funny now that Northeast Minneapolis is looked at like a hipster haven or the "new" Uptown with its bars, diners, and places to socialize. Back when World Premier dropped "Nordeast" was just a close knit neighborhood full of hearty drunks who loved their Grain Belt and were proud of their local boys done good, the Unknown Prophets. Big Jess rapped about life on the other side of the river, representing with lower working-class rhymes and epic production. One of the veterans of the scene, he's not getting older he's just getting wiser. --Lars Larson
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MPLS.TV
16> Joe Horton
Origin: Milwaukee, WI | Active: 2008-present | Songs: "Land Mines," "Sparrows" and "Devil Trombones"
The endlessly well-spoken Joe Horton used to rap under the name Eric Blair, but recently confirmed that his alter ego is dead -- or in a cabin somewhere. Combine his animated-as-fuck performance acumen with his creative writing scholarship, and you'll end up with the unique Horton-fronted project No Bird Sing. It's a three-piece band -- filled by guitarist Robert Mulrennan and drummer Graham O'Brien -- that's as punk as anything in the local hip-hop scene. Horton's also the type to oscillate quickly between comedy and serious commentary in the middle of a live set. "I don't care if you're a platypus and you're having sex with a rock," he told the 2012 Art-A-Whirl crowd at 331 Club. "If we don't have love, we don't have anything." 
--Reed Fischer
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Photo by Daniel Carrillo
15> Astronautalis
Origin: Jacksonville, Florida | Active: 2003-present | Songs: "The River, The Woods," "Contrails," and "I Don't Always Dream About Rappers... I Promise
Andy "Astronautalis" Bothwell is the freshest transplant on this list. With only about one calendar year of time as a Minnesota resident, he's been an impressive addition to the home team with a blistering live performance style and songs to back it up. Last year's This Is Our Science straddles about a dozen genres, but at its core is his ever-malleable voice. Be it freestyle tales of dispair, or tightly written hooks that are as infectious as they are gloomy, is it any wonder that Justin Vernon recorded an impromptu album with Astronautalis earlier this year? --Reed Fischer

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