By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
"I ain't asking you to be in a relationship/Nah, it's more like a situationship," raps Muja Messiah, pleading for play on his latest album. But the local hip-hop breakout of the year is a long-term slow hand when it comes to seducing and honoring the hometown tattooed on his neck, "MPLS" (inked with a Minnesota Twins "M," a sword for a "P," a gun for an "L," and a dollar-sign "S").
Making his name as a live opener, cameo king, and member of Raw Villa since the late '90s, Mu finally came into his own this year with two devilishly good CDs on Black Corners, the mixtape MPLS Massacre (featuring web phenomena "Amy Winehouse" and his cover of M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" with M.anifest) and a debut solo album, Thee Adventures of a B-Boy D-Boy (featuring Slug, Black Thought, and Maria Isa), which will be re-released nationally by Koch in November. "The story of my life contains no King James version," he raps, but it has a new testament, and you might soon find it in hotel rooms everywhere.
Upon being told that he'd placed as a "best new local artist" in Picked to Click, Muja replied, "It's about damn time." We asked him to list a few of his favorite things that aren't Muja Messiah:
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Favorite new album: Nas, Untitled (Def Jam)
"I wouldn't think I'd be saying that for years. But we went on tour—me, Trama, and [St. Paul] Slim—and we sat listening to the new Nas three times in a row back-to-back in the car. Nobody said nothing for an hour and 20 minutes, that's how much we liked it."
Favorite local artists: Dodi Phy, Real Spit Rick, and Black Blondie
"By the time Samahra [of Black Blondie] finished the hook [on "Beautiful," from Thee Adventures of a B-Boy D-Boy], I'd already finished the verses. It came real easy. With me and Samahra together, we could probably write four or five songs in a day. I'm on the Black Blondie album coming out this fall."
Favorite show he's ever played: Opening for Rakim at First Avenue
"When he didn't show up."
"If I had those five albums, I could drive straight to Los Angeles and that's all I would listen to for them two days on the road."
Favorite thing he misses about drug dealing: Nothing
"I'm not a hustler who raps, I'm a rapper who hustled to pay for studio time."