|Photo by Dan Corrigan|
James "Nocando" McCall is an L.A.-based critically acclaimed rapper, co-founder of the Low End Theory and founder of indie rap label Hellfyre Club. This is part one of his "Unrivaled Under the Sun" series dedicated to his inspirations. Read more of his writing at LA Weekly.
I've been to Minneapolis on three occasions. The first was in 2007, and I have barely any recollection of what happened that night. There wasn't a word for the tone of the night in my vocabulary at the time. Now there is, and it's ratchet. Although fun, it was amoral but no one got hurt or arrested. The second time was at 7th St. Entry this past February on tour with Hellfyre Club compadres Busdriver, Milo, and Open Mike Eagle. The cold felt like the dark side of the moon, and I grew a new respect for the people of Minneapolis.
I had a magical moment that night. I freestyled over an instrumental that was jacked from the internet -- kinda like the kids do these days, kinda like me and my friends did as teens and in our early 20s. I did this in front of a room full of people at 7th St. I improvised a song and took a risk that could have destroyed the momentum of my set. It could've meant I would not get to play in Minneapolis again. Sounds dramatic, but that's how I feel about it sometimes. With that said, it was a near-flawless three minutes of improvised rap. Just before I did that, I ate three bowls of vegan chili and gave a big hug to a lady who cooked the chili. I dedicated the freestyle to her son. That man's name is Micheal Larsen, better known as Eyedea.
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Eyedea dead at 28