Last year, Twin Cities heavy hitters like Atmosphere and Dem Atlas sated fans and followers with new singles and full-length projects. That leaves the Twin Cities rap scene wide open in 2019 to accommodate breakthroughs by other artists, whether brand-new or perpetually slept-on, and City Pages will continue to track those developments with our monthly 10-song rap roundups. Take a look at this month’s batch to see how Minneapolis and St. Paul is shaping up to start the year.
Allan Kingdom – “Coming to America”
Label: Yebo Inc. / Opposition
Allan gets more serious and topical than usual on his latest single, rapping about the obstacles and opportunities that define the American immigrant experience in a way that's more personal than political.
Angelo Bombay ft. Nick Travae and J. Plaza – “Dirty and Ratchet”
Tapping Minneapolis natives Nick Travae and J. Plaza, the prolific MPLS producer Angelo Bombay has somewhat of a SoundCloud hit on his hands with the propulsive “Dirty and Ratchet,” which has quickly amassed a quarter million plays on the platform.
DB Tha Rasta – “Tweaked Out”
This is the hardest I've heard the flashy St. Paul street rapper DB Tha Rasta go in a minute, barreling over Datboigetro’s hypnotic piano beat and rightly seeing no need for a hook.
Drelli – “Rude”
Label: Swag bOP inc.
Without fail, Minneapolis rapper (and recent City Pages Street Style participant) Drelli has a charming, preternatural ability to make music that is unambiguously joyous, and the glistening neo-funk of “Rude” is no exception.
Lexii Alijai – “No Love”
“Too busy on the road for me to ever wanna slow down,” raps Lexii Alijai here, but that doesn't mean the St. Paul native isn't willing to do some reflecting along the way, even getting diaristic in these self-assured “chronicles of a cold bitch.”
Mac Irv – “Know Myself”
Judging by his latest single, Mac Irv has been in dire need of a musical venting session. Over a twinkling but melancholy piano beat, the Minneapolis rapper and ex-Gophers hooper opens up about some of the heaviest things on his mind (e.g., “Memories of my oldest daughter sleeping on my chest/ Now I see her once a year, that shit’ll leave you depressed”).
Student 1 ft. Mick Jenkins – “Metaphors”
Label: Coines Creations
Minneapolis’ Student 1 finds some inspiration in Atmosphere’s “Scapegoat,” interpolating the Overcast! classic on this collaboration with one of Chicago’s finest, Mick Jenkins.
Tek – “Gametime”
“Gametime” seems longer than it is—in a good way. Tek’s latest single builds epically.
Travis Gorman ft. Demon Marcus and Baby Shel – “Flamethrower”
Album: Remember You Have to Die
Label: Rotation Records
Almost two years ago, in City Pages’ 2017 Best Of issue, Travis Gorman was named the Twin Cities’ top hip-hop producer. But it wasn't until last month that he finally released his debut album, Remember You Have to Die . A monstrous collaboration with distorted bass that just seems to shake the earth, “Flamethrower” is a clear standout, featuring a bellowing Devon Reason (one of Gorman’s fellow members in the Rotation crew) and a fast-rapping Baby Shel.
Why Khaliq – “Seasons Change”
St. Paul’s Why Khaliq kicked off his 2019 by reviving his Why Wednesday series of drops, releasing a new collab with his frequent producer Been Reza. One of Khaliq’s strengths is the kind of smart, conceptual writing that's made projects like The Mustard Seed stand out, but here, over Been Reza’s sparse, mellow beat, Khaliq gets looser than usual, sounding more free to just rap.