Papa Said Knock You Out

How a boxer and a backpacker put local hip hop in the ring

The MCs haven't quite found their personas on the mic yet, a fact made more obvious by vivid cameos from Slug and Muja Messiah. And for all their stylistic bravura, they seem self-conscious as well as "conscious." Among the few local hip-hoppers to find an audience among both "nerds" and "thugs," the C.O.R.E. worry too much about alienating either: When I ran into them at the Minnesota Music Awards last year, the MCs went so far as to ask that I not mention in print their most unique live feature: their dance moves. (Sorry, guys.)

But sometimes being different is as "street" as it gets. At the gym, they even poke fun at the no-dancing rule among contemporary MCs.

"It's like people are afraid to move their bodies or something," says Wright.

"And we're not trying to spit a bunch of big words that go above your head," adds Frazier. "We're trying to come through you. Make you feel the music."

In other words, do something physically to reach you mentally. For the C.O.R.E., dancing is just part of the fight.

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