Usually I listen to my music on shuffle and some time ago I realized that most of what I was listening to was the likes of Edward Sharpe, Death Cab for Cutie, Mars Volta and Elliot Smith. I found myself disappointed by the lack of diversity. This was extra frustrating since I was working at a record store. I decided to start with Hip-hop. This journey started before the great Hip Hop vs MPR Misfortune of 2014 and, as my exploration continues, is influenced by it.
Exploration ALWAYS starts with that first step. No matter how small, it’s the first step that turns out to be the most important. This first step was a small one. My first artist suggestion came from Boondocks. (I’m betting musical suggestions from a pimp are unique.) After being introduced to A Pimp Named Slickback it hit me upside the head. “Why don’t I have any music from A Tribe Called Quest?!” .
My trip to The Electric Fetus (Minneapolis, MN) presented my first hurdle. Once I stopped griping about how A Tribe Called Quest was filed under ‘T’, I realized that I didn’t know which album to pick up. I mean really! A Tribe Called Quest has five albums and I’m not made of money. The staff at The Fetus are especially helpful and suggested The Low End Theory.
One listen through. That is all it took and I was hooked. Deftly created beats based on precision percussion led my body’s movements. I was bobbing my head along, and within a few listens I was singing with the Hype Men. Hype Men? Nah, try Boosters. Because they didn’t just repeat lines, they made them better. The voices flow, words lead to a larger picture. Each storyteller staying on point. After the fourth time through Animal was in my head screaming “MORE MORE MORE”.
Which brings us to my second hurdle. NancyDrewYou doesn’t start anything with half-ass intentions. Hip-hop is all about community. It’s about voices that are loud and proud, speaking from the heart because that is all you have left. If I’m going to build hip-hop chops I’m going to start local. I had a jump-start. Back in 2000-2007 I was living in Duluth, practically the frozen north of MN. Perhaps it was the infusion of Twin Cities born college students, but even 150mi away we had heard of Atmosphere. Doomtree with it’s Blowouts is hard to miss as well. And I’m not going to lie and say that our local station The Current doesn’t play hip-hop or rap music (but it is mostly Atmosphere and Doomtree). But there has to be more, right?
A community that fosters a gajillion singer songwriters, two zillion rock-a-billy bands and half a thillion punk, rock-and-roll, and metal groups MUST have a diverse Hip-hop community. Right? Seriously, Minnesota’s hip-hop community could not be more underground. But it is there. I put it to Facebook and found that there are a bunch of people in my mini community that are already immersed in MN’s Hip-hop world. I received suggestions for 22 different local hip-hop makers with in an hour. Several more have been revealed to me since then. I put together this Youtube Mix tape so you could enjoy them with me.
This is where I tell you why I started this blog. Exploration doesn’t stop because you’ve arrived at your intended destination, the journey picks up speed and before you realize it you’ve been pushed farther than you thought you could go. I’ve beefed up my playlist to include Hip hop. And now its time to find these artist, go to their shows… and if I’ve learned anything from the State of Hip Hop Panel Discussion at Intermedia Arts it’s this:
You want it? Go get it. Support it. Shout it.