Give Me the B-Boys and Free My Soul

20 weird moments from the Twin Cities Celebration of Hip Hop

8:00 The rest of the night is all happy comedown. Fiction reprises his catchiest song (something about "Fuck that, nigga, I'll take your shit"), Doomtree gets over on group moxie, and I Self Devine offers our best regional anthem yet, "Ice Cold." The momentum carries over into the DUNation after-party, held on the top of the building that houses Roberts Shoes on Lake and Chicago. Producer Dtekh, poet Desdamona, blogger Saucy Dame, Slug of Atmosphere, artist Earnest Bryant III, and many others mingle against a skyline of moon, downtown buildings, and the lit-up Sears tower. Muja Messiah mans the bar, charging white people extra for drinks.

Daniel Corrigan

Day Three

Sunday, August 21, 5:20 p.m. During a panel discussion on "indulgence," Brother Ali takes issue with the notion that hip hop and rap are different entities with different motivations. "If I could sound like Ludacris, I would," he says.

One reporter's opinion: There's nothing wrong with rap music that isn't wrong with the American dream, a two-faced beast that tells people to work hard, then glorifies those who've skipped the square job and gone straight to riches. (Later this evening, AD, whose initials stand for American Dream, performs his own local anthem, "North Side Stomp.")

6:15 On the sidewalk outside, Afro-ed rapper Young Pluky is stopping passing SUVs to hawk his $3 CD, D.T.R. Dodging the Rico. "Yo, we're trying to get off the block here," he hollers. "I don't want to sell drugs no more."

10:10 "How many of you here were born in the '70s?" says Zach Combs onstage, by way of buying some time for festival headliner Slick Rick. A "yeah" comes roaring back in reply. "How about the '80s?" says Combs. The "yeah" doubles in volume, and Combs pantomimes being blown over by a fierce wind. One new resident of Golden Valley wonders why people born in the '60s are so often slighted at hip-hop shows.

Today was a good day: Gangster-esque females Heat were hot. Local hip-hop godfather Travis Lee (better known as Travitron) got an award for starting all this. "Northern Exposure (Tease Me)," the new song by the C.O.R.E. (featuring festival organizer Toki Wright), is the best hip-hop ho-down since Crucial Conflict's "Hay." And Enfinity Dance Group did some krumping during what was essentially a paid performance for their $200 prize money when nobody else showed to compete.

But everyone is here for "the Ruler."

"I'm going to play two records, one old-school, one new-school," says Slick Rick once he's taken the stage, cueing his DJ. "And you tell me which one moves you in your soul."

He plays a series of new tracks and old ones, setting Mike Jones against House of Pain, the Ying Yang Twins against the Mary Jane Girls. He introduces his wife, who suits him up in '80s-style gold chains before he raps "Children's Story." ("This was how we dressed when I was your age," he says.) Trim and animated, he nonetheless has the ironic glint of a man who knows he's an oldies act. "Try to stay within your Ten Commandments," he says by way of goodnight. "And let's try to keep this racial melting pot going."

11:30 Clad in a white tank top with a Puerto Rican flag, St. Paul rapper Maria Isa is salsa dancing outside First Avenue with a guy in a Che Guevara T-shirt. Friends are banging on drums, and others are singing call-and-response in Spanish. Soon b-boy Daylight is a blur on the sidewalk. Dick Mammen, a guy in a white beard who founded the organization behind this weekend's event, Yo! the Movement, has known festival honchos Toki Wright and Larry Lucio since they were kids.

"It's a spontaneous youth gathering," he says, smiling at the spectacle. "Shouldn't somebody call the cops?"

For more photos from the 4th Annual Twin Cities Celebration of Hip Hop, visit

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