A few different conversations concerning the state of the local rap scene have been thrown around in the media lately: As criticisms of the lack of diverse hip-hop coverage in the popular press arise, so does Slug's argument that the scene is "over-saturated". As I've come to discover over the past year with my Twin Cities Rap Mixtape Roundup series - a monthly post that highlights a new batch of eight up-and-coming local rappers in a streaming playlist - there are, indeed, a hell of a lot of rappers around town.
A grand total of 96 different artists have had music grace the mix, representing a number of different crews and sounds. The idea is to give the scene more accurate representation: were you to be outside Minnesota reading our music coverage, it'd be easy to make the mistake that Rhymesayers and Doomtree were the only rappers we had. Meanwhile, local rap movements are happening everywhere, and with the advent of the internet and the increase in home recordings, new music is being released at a quicker pace. Wanting to cover the quality cropping up in an efficient way that let the music mostly speak for itself, I dropped the first mixtape in June 2011, and have somehow pulled together a new one every third Tuesday since.
I honestly didn't think it'd make it as far as it has, and I assumed there'd be a point where the mix would run out steam, but I can say that each mix has maintained the standard I initially hoped to achieve. A short bio of each artist came with the mixes so fans can get acquainted, and I wound up learning more about the various pockets of the scene than I could imagine. From the old heads like Mastermind and I.L.I.C.I.T. who were picking up new hustle, to the Wag Movement's multi-faceted musical expression, to the hard-to-deny grind of Still Real Records and Rocky Diamonds, and everything in between, the mix attempted to cover a lot of ground. For such a small population, we are home to a wide range of talent that's hard to recognize fully at first.
Call the scene over-saturated if you want, but it's clearly a diverse cast that's brimming with real possibility. To celebrate the completion of a full year, I'll be hosting a show featuring artists from the mix at Honey on Thursday the 14th. Trama, The Escape Artists, Ernest Rhodes, Lizzo, Gaines and Ecid will all throw down sets. A live version of what the mix is trying to accomplish, the night is going to be a unique slice of local hip-hop that showcases the wide range of sounds that fall under the Minnesota umbrella.
Listen below to the artists featured at the showcase:
Trama - "One Day At A Time"
The Escape Artists - "Grown Children"
Ecid - "Werewolf Hologram"
Lizzo - "W.E.R.K."
Gaines - "Thinking Out Loud"
Ernest Rhodes - "Fire For The Future"
Gimme Noise Mixtape Anniversary Showcase
with Trama, The Escape Artists, Ecid, Lizzo, Gaines and Ernest Rhodes