East Side Story

Stereo Type Click dial 651 for hip-hop information

"So me and Juice Box got together," Paizon says, flicking a thumb in D-Mil's direction. "I call him Juice Box 'cause he's so little. Look at him--he looks like a little juice box, don't he?" K.B. and Jozi crack up. D-Mil smiles generously. "And Ski would always be around," laughs Paizon. "He wasn't afraid to grab the mic."

Shawnski was slower to get his act together than the savvy D-Mil. "He got sick of it, 'cause we always had a show ready," says D-Mil. "And he'd just show up and do whatever because he didn't have anything prepared. So one night he was like, 'Hey, D-Mil, fuck this already. I'm comin' to your house. I'm gonna put it down--my rhymes, your beats, so I got something for the next party."

Turns out Shawnski's "personal business" is legal in nature: He's keeping an involuntary 60-day appointment with the State of Minnesota. He sketches similar scrapes in his rhymes. "My past has affected my present," Shawnski muses on "Dreams." On "Gambles," Ski skates on a hectic edge, balancing career, thrill-seeking, and love while pondering his future. Similarly, Paizon makes no bones about his past legal entanglements, while insisting that he, Shawnski, and many of their friends and acquaintances are just clearing their slate as they broach maturity. "It's cool to see all your boys--instead of running the streets getting into something crazy, they're putting their energy into setting goals," Paizon adds.

Of course, while said slates are being cleared, the Click's plans--particularly Shawnski's solo joint--have been set on the back burner. But this is a crew that more than knows how to make do, scavenging for any available venue while others have bitched about the lack of performance spaces. They've held it down at Schwietz Saloon, a neighborhood tavern on Payne Avenue, organized riverboat shows in Stillwater, celebrated a CD release at Banana Joe's, and even saturated Acapulco last spring with their sensuous single "Money Remix." (D-Mil returns to Mexico this spring break, to DJ for three weeks in Mazatlán.)

Even as they make plans ("very long-term") for an East Side St. Paul club, the STC still hold out hope that downtown Minneapolis might make room for live hip-hop shows in clubs that don't pander solely to a vanilla temperament with jiggy, smiling, tip-your-bartenders jams. Of course, club owners tend to be suspicious of the patrons those shows draw--you know, the "element" euphemistically railed against in the news. The lines drawn are almost as much generational as they are racial. (The crew itself is interracial.)

"Downtown people are scared of a bunch of kids with baggy pants showing up in their place," K.B. says.

"Yeah, well they gotta get used to it," Paizon interjects. "Hip hop ain't goin' nowhere. It's all anyone listens to in the schools, except for those Manson kids with the painted fingernails and fake eyes and shit. I mean, damn."

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