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
We interrupt your regularly scheduled 2012 election-season rage tweets with a special report: the 22nd installment of Picked to Click is here!
This is my first year behind Picked to Click, and I'll already say I'd much rather steer this band wagon (get it?) than a PedalPub. Regardless of how you'd rate this current crop of bands, we are certainly in a golden age for voter participation. With the input of 146 Twin Cities club employees, label owners, writers, and scene citizens, we have a weighted cheat sheet for hundreds of performers — and the 10 freshest of the bunch — vigorously keeping this music scene kicking.
Since I just moved back to Minnesota earlier this year, I've noticed Twin Citians often forget how good we have it. So many major metropolitan centers are nowhere close to being as hair-trigger opinionated as we are about our local scene. It's impressive that something as outwardly benign as a yearly survey of the region's new and underappreciated acts can be so reviled by some, but we've always been a little different here. Coming to it with fresh eyes, I take Picked to Click as a bit of nerdy, statistical fun, not an outright industry forecast.
This year, the votes clustered the top four artists within a 12-point range, which made for an exciting bit of spreadsheet-gazing as the ballots poured in. Voters who numbered their picks gave their first-place act five points, the second-placers got four, and so forth. The non-ordered ballots gave each nominated act three points. The ballots that nominated Y.N. Rich Kids in all five slots, or said "Reed, let's get a beer" earned points in my heart, but didn't change the ultimate outcome. —Reed Fischer
The winners of the 22nd Picked to Click poll:
1. The Chalice 83 points
2. Pony Trash 78 points
3. John Mark Nelson 71 points
3. Wiping Out Thousands 71 points
5. Heavy Deeds 63 points
6. Actual Wolf 58 points
7. Strange Names 39 points
8. Observer Drift 36 points
9. Prissy Clerks 34 points
10. Audio Perm 32 points
By Reed Fischer
"Our ladies' nights are really dope," asserts the Chalice's queen-bee rapper, Lizzo. "We get together and drink. That's how it started — with red wine. If it were liquor, it wouldn't get done. Making tracks, turning tracks into a song, and turning tracks into a banger is like three completely different processes."
Process number four is working on steps and transitions in a drafty, high-ceilinged practice space in northeast Minneapolis with cans of Pabst at the ready. "You want a drink?" asks Sophia Eris, who perpetually wraps her head in colorful fabric. After pouring something alcoholic for herself, she hands a bottle of water across the makeshift bar. Come to think of it, every interaction City Pages has ever had with the local hip-hop scene's new goddesses has incorporated liquid refreshments.
"First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you," F. Scott Fitzgerald once said. And though he uttered it in a state of enlightened intoxication long before rap music, there's something to his statement that applies to the framework of the Chalice. Except their drinking sessions aren't just taking Lizzo, Eris, and Claire de Lune in — the greater Twin Cities music scene is getting lit too.
"I want to impress the pants off the audience so that they feel like their time is well-spent," Eris says of the group's live presence. For now, it's time to work out miniscule kinks in the ensemble numbers embedded within an ambitious 19-song set. This is stuff like agreeing on which beat to bust into rapping the intro to Salt-n-Pepa's "Push It" after segueing out of their own song of the same name. And like everyone else who sips — and eventually gulps — from the Chalice, the guys in the four-deep funkatronic backing band, Sexy Delicious, wear the smiles of those who are pleased to imbibe along during this rehearsal.
It'll be another five days before the Chalice wear sequins, jewelry, and dresses while hoisting cups swirling with fermented grape. They'll be in front of a 7th St. Entry crowd packed with rapper friends and a dozen photographers. But you can already see the entire thing playing out in their glistening irises. They're even considering their end-of-show banter. "There's a lot of fucking people to thank; I could talk for hours," Eris admits. At this instant, their world is an enormous ladies night, and the trio's raw talent is the intoxicating stuff brimming from their goblets.
"One of the reasons it works is that I'm a Lizzo fan and a Sophia Eris fan," de Lune says. "And I have been since before we were in a group. I have a guess that if you put five-year-old [Sophia] on stage, she would've killed it. Lizzo owns the stage, owns the booth, and everything she touches turns to Lizzo." Lizzo's got the pure vocalist's back too: "Claire has a voice that is almost like an instrument. It's very rich and clear. She nails it."
After a fortuitous meeting at last year's Red Stag Block Party, a mixtape incorporating a bunch of females from the scene brought the Chalice closer together. Then there was the 12-minute blowout performance at SXSW that even a geriatric bartender got down for, and later what amounted to crashing the Minnesota Public Radio's airwaves party. "There's a lyric on the Current right now that says 'roll up up up in the club club club' and I'm proud of that," Lizzo says, exploding with a booming laugh. "That was not on there before."
After questions started circulating about when a record was coming, a fervid July and August in the studio turned into We Are the Chalice. It's a party EP, a gilded cup handled with a middle finger cocked on its cover, to remind us that Missy Elliott used to have the nickname "Misdemeanor," and that audacity and brashness are an acceptable substitute for hip hop's chin-stroking and pontification. Their song "Ladies Night," while it is immediately a nod to what the Chalice call "our foremothers," is also based on a true story that's still unfolding.
When Friday's release show arrives, so does a palpable and feminine electricity inside the Entry. Even though each member of the Chalice is only in her early to mid-20s, there's ample creative ground to cover. In addition to We Are the Chalice, Lizzo has regular projects with Larva Ink and Tha Clerb, and de Lune has her solo songs, as does Eris. And everyone guests on everyone else's stuff around town. It's a set lively and fluid enough for the middle-finger wavers to want to get crunk, and long enough for the whole room to achieve crunk.
Still, the ladies admit they've only really begun to mesh recently. "If you listen to the record, you can hear us grow as a group," Lizzo says. "We're not just three artists anymore." If this is only the happy hour of the Chalice's development, let's order up another round.
By Reed Fischer
"Part of the reason that we had the discussion about Chris [Bierden] joining the band is because he was the person we knew had a lot of time on his hands," explains Pony Trash singer/guitarist Neil Weir.
While kicking back in an office chair inside Old Blackberry Way, the recording studio he runs, Weir articulates the tightly scheduled world of a band of four men who play in a lot of other bands. While their time together is scarce, inspiration is not in short supply.
For example, only when Weir isn't occupied with the Chambermaids, Sativa Flats, or his solo instrumental project, Devil on the Beach — plus recent and continuing studio clients like Cloak Ox, Blind Shake, Chatham Rise, and Web of Sunsets — can he get together to rehearse with neo-shoegazers Pony Trash.
With a dual attack of reverb-heavy Fender Jazzmasters, the music hits the gut far harder than it does the eardrums. "It's all about how hard you're playing the strings in this band," says equally occupied guitarist Nate Nelson. He's also in the Chambermaids, and other groups include STNNNG, a project with his wife called Sister Bear, and American Cream. "You're playing the strings so lightly, you're setting a mood. I've never done that too much in bands, where you're trying to play as quietly as possible. You're not turning down your amp or anything, it's just how delicate can you play."
Nelson and drummer Ollie Moltaji (Gospel Gossip, Battle Napkin, Wizard Baby, a Bruce Springsteen cover band, among others) share a couch near Weir. Surrounding them is wallpaper with a pattern that might start moving at any second, a comfortable mix of glimmering vintage lamps, and recording gear. These rooms may be just part of the first floor of an unassuming house near Dinkytown, but Weir has continued a several-decade lineage of hosting a hip musical womb, of sorts, within these walls.
Absent is bassist Bierden, who might have the least free time recently due to another Picked to Click band, Heavy Deeds (see page 14), and a certain guitarless, experimental combo that has been on the road extensively throughout 2012. Still, scheduling's been really easy, Weir contends: "I just look at the calendar for the green line. That's Poliça. If that's not there, Chris is available to get together. Last practice we had was one day between two Poliça tours that he had off. He's really eager to work hard on stuff when he's in town."
Pony Trash started as a more loose garage-y incarnation about two years ago with bassist Srini Radhakrishna (France Has the Bomb), who has since moved to Chicago. About a year ago, Bierden stepped in on bass and things became more fluid and melodic, and the group began work on the self-titled five-song EP coming out in November. With four guys balancing so many projects at once and so little time to rehearse, it's easy to see why a high level of precision in conversation is important. Having a sound engineer like Weir in the band opens up a hyper-attention to detail when it comes to influence and intent.
"[This music] has this breathing quality that isn't meticulously constructed," Weir says, and adds that the feel they're after is expressed on live Velvet Underground, Neil Young and Crazy Horse's mid-'70s creative run of On the Beach, Tonight's the Night, and Zuma, but also a proto-alternative album like the Breeders' Pod. None of these bands have melodies quite like Pony Trash's Grand Canyon of twang "The Weight of the Night" or the expansive tear-jerker "Dry Your Eyes."
So far, listeners are split on how the results come across — comparisons to the seasonal extremes of summer and winter keep coming up. "It's both in my mind," Nelson says, not long before he and Moltaji semi-hastily exit the studio for their next projects of the day. "Reverb-y guitars make you think of surf, so I can see the summer thing. There's a sadness to the songs too, which makes you feel kinda wintry. I take it as a compliment. Then we did what we were setting out to do, a little bit. The contrast is very interesting."
"I don't get out much," jokes 18-year-old folk artist John Mark Nelson, when asked how he's managed to already record two full-length albums. But with the amount of buzz generated around his sophomore record, Waiting and Waiting, he might have to force himself out to play some more live shows for his expanding fan base.
The acoustic-based songs featured on the album are augmented by soaring string arrangements, subtle keyboard flourishes, and poignant, wise-beyond-his-years lyrics delivered with Nelson's rich, sonorous vocals. The numbers have a timeless quality to them while still managing to have a modern pulse, which could be the result of Nelson's talented genes and his early influences. "I grew up in a musical family, and soon realized it was one of the few Nelson talents," he says. "I eventually discovered that my true calling was singing a strict tenor line along with my Beach Boys greatest hits CD."
Everything on Waiting and Waiting, save for the strings, was recorded at home with the aid of modern technology. "Advances in home recording have made the once far-off, hazy idea of making your own record into a tangible reality," he says. "It gives artists the ability to create and share, on a budget. On the down side, you get a lot of emotional Coldplay covers on YouTube."
Nelson has put plans to study at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul on hold while he focuses on supporting Waiting and Waiting. After his rousing record-release show at the Entry back in August, his next performance is supporting the Hush Sound at the Triple Rock on October 28. He expects more live dates soon — just not always with the sprawling backing band. "The 10-piece band is a riot," he says. "That being said, I don't want to get overly comfortable in one sonic spectrum."
And while the growing attention might derail any young songwriter, Nelson is appreciative of his time in the limelight. "I am just very thankful," he says."Everything that has happened to me in the last four months is much more the story of a supportive and encouraging city than it is a story about me. Whatever happens in the next few years, I will always look back on this season with a humble, grateful heart."
Wiping Out Thousands is a two-person electronic project with an energy and a sound so fresh that you'd think they dropped out of a Futurama episode. It's fitting that the name is derived from Adam Toffler's 1970 sci-fi novel Future Shock.
Throughout 2012, Taylor Nelson and Alaine Dickman have proven themselves the preferred local purveyors of electroclash. On these tracks, opposing forces advance and retreat within the layers of synths, propulsive beats, and Dickman's entrancing vocals. It's enough to make the end of the world sound destructively sexy. This sort of experimental music is instantly danceable, and universally understood for its highs-and-lows moodiness.
Since the release of their debut EP, Reaction Machine, Wiping Out Thousands have gained a reputation and popularity for their electrifying shows. It's no surprise to anyone — except Nelson and Dickman.
"We recorded Reaction Machine in a basement," says Nelson of the beginnings of the band, incredulity attached to his friendly tone. "We used the laptop's microphone. We didn't use any sort of studio space. We did all the website design ourselves. We didn't think it would become this big."
"This big" alludes, most likely, to the times when Wiping Out Thousands snagged opening slots with YACHT and Tanlines earlier this year, and the inundation of attention from new fans. Thus, the pressure is only building, and Nelson and Dickman hope to keep the momentum swinging upward with this month's release of their debut LP, This Came First.
For all the hype, Wiping Out Thousands are focused on staying accessible — just as Reaction Machine was released as a free download, so it will be for This Came First.
"We think, right now, that the free model is the best way to go," explains Nelson. "Like, 'Hey, we like this, we want you to like it, so just have it, and if you do, come to our shows and support us in other ways.'"
By David Hansen
Heavy Deeds are in no hurry — because they can't be, and because they don't want to be, and because nothing good comes of hurrying.
"This EP has taken a year to come around," says singer and percussionist Sara Bischoff. "We've taken our time recording. But once you've taken a certain amount of time, you might as well just take all the time you like. Make all the revisions. Master it when we can all be together. Figure out the best way to release it."
Heavy Deeds don't have an album, yet. The five psych-rock songs they recorded at Old Blackberry Way last autumn have spent a long year waiting to be mastered, getting a tweak here and there. The members often spend months apart while bassist Chris Bierden or guitarist Chris Rose tours with other projects.
"We started to accept that things would move at a slower pace," says Bischoff. "It's a really interesting way to be in a band. We're going to be in this band for a long while. There's no rush."
Speaking of, it's October, and Bierden has been on tour with you-know-who for ... well, it feels like forever. Especially to Bischoff. She's Heavy Deeds' singer and tambourinist. She's also Bierden's girlfriend, and they share a house with Molly Hilgenberg, their keyboardist, and a singer, too.
This is what Molly calls "a weird family," meaning the house, its occupants, their friendships, the music they make. Heavy Deeds has all a family's moving parts: leavetaking and reunion, absence and return, ambition and patience. They keep their own time, calmly absorbing one another's needs as a family might. "Go on if you need to. We'll be here." Stitch it in needlepoint, hang it in the foyer. So everything about Heavy Deeds feels exquisitely lived-in, tried-on, worn-well.
No small feat. Bischoff and Hilgenberg walked into Heavy Deeds utter newcomers. Not a minute of band experience between them, unless you count Hilgenberg's opera education as a mezzo soprano. Their bandmates, on the other hand, had the better part of a decade between them as Vampire Hands. If the name rings no bells, go buy a copy of Me and You Cherry Red.
"We're in the room with people who can count off a song by looking at each other," says Hilgenberg. "But it's not intimidating. They're warm and welcoming people. They make you feel like part of the family."
Yet there's also something uncanny in Heavy Deeds — be it in the ring of their guitars, in the rise of their voices. Their songs are little returnings, epic dreams in miniature where everything is just so. Close your eyes and you've come home.
After getting busted for selling pot, Eric Pollard penned 70 songs in the anxious months before his court date. Though Pollard had spent his 20s drumming for Low's Alan Sparhawk and Sun Kil Moon's Mark Kozelek, this was his first serious pursuit of his own sound.
"After my bust I had a lot on my mind, and that directly translated to the tunes — as did getting sober," admits Pollard, 32, who ultimately avoided jail by pleading guilty to lesser charges. "Once things were resolved I was eager to start recording. By that point I didn't have any money, though, due to attorney fees. Luckily Al [Sparhawk] was nice enough to let me record with him for free and just see where it went."
Where it has headed so far is the excellent EP Lightning & the Wolf, Pollard's full-band debut as Actual Wolf. Teaming up with a murderer's row of local scene veterans — Retribution Gospel Choir bassist Steve Garrington, Tapes 'n Tapes drummer Jeremy Hanson, and guitarist Jake Hanson — the EP finds Pollard drawing musical inspiration from '70s country-rock and lyrical insights from his own troubled past ("Always going to owe you favors/I live life in the red/I can't even sell enough reefer/I can't keep none in my head"). His slightly twangy understated tenor fits the material perfectly, and as a longtime sideman himself, Pollard knows most songs shine brightest when the spotlight gets shifted around, hence stunning guitar solos by Hanson and harmonies courtesy of Haley Bonar.
Given how gaga the Twin Cities has gone over similarly pedigreed acts like Dawes, there's reason to believe Actual Wolf could break big, and indeed Pollard's tuneful alt-country has already seen significant airplay on the Current. That doesn't mean he's taking future success for granted: Pollard and the band are already back in the studio hard at work on a new record.
"You always have to be working harder than the next person if you want to succeed in music at all," claims Pollard as our conversation comes to a close. "Right now 90 percent of music fans have ADD and will forget about you unless you're giving them constant stimulation. That's why I'm working so hard, that and because it's really boring to be sober in a bar. If I'm going to be in a bar I want to be playing."
By Jeff Gage
Here's something you don't see every day: a band that prefers to do its interviews via conference call.
Well, okay, maybe that's not Strange Names' preference, per se. It's in part a matter of necessity, given that the band's chief members, singer Liam Benzvi and guitarist Francis Jimenez, live 1,200 miles apart — one in Brooklyn, the other in Minneapolis.
"It's a sign of the times," says Jimenez, from his apartment in Loring Park. "It's how you got to be able to do it. [But] we're also very concerned about our artistic integrity. We like to be involved in the process, like to be proactive."
Proactive is one way to put it. Brooklyn native Benzvi recalls that when he moved back to New York after studying theater at the U of M, where he befriended Jimenez, he read Don Passman's All You Need to Know About the Music Business. Little surprise, then, that living so far apart is a strategic decision as much as anything — a chance to get footholds in different markets, including the biggest one of all.
"Plane tickets and everything else are more expensive, but it seems to be working okay," Jimenez says of the physical separation. "In the modern age, it's easy to be split up across the country. It feels like you're in the same room, what with the internet, telephones, Skype."
With that said, there's hardly anything detached or calculated about Strange Names' music. "Potential Wife," the obvious single off their new, self-titled EP, is one of the most joyful, exuberant dance numbers to come out of the City of Lakes this year. And, with an energetic supporting cast, that vibe carries over to concerts. "We both put a lot of joy into the music we make," says Benzvi. "It's so easy to make recordings you do at home that sound really epic. When we do a live show, we want to maintain that feeling and mood."
Putting out a full-length is the next logical step. Not surprisingly, they already seem to be one step ahead. "We need a little more backing or support as far as funds go," says Benzvi of their upcoming plans. "We've been pursuing certain labels, and we're being pursued by others and whatnot, trying to figure out what's best to do.
"Nothing official yet," he adds, playing coyly. You can almost hear a grin through the phone. "But it's exciting."
By Erik Thompson
Listeners might be surprised to learn that Observer Drift's expansive sonic experiments were all crafted by just one 20-year-old guy named Collin Ward. The polished nature of Ward's electro-pop album Corridors, recorded in a Bloomington basement, belies the young age and relative inexperience of its creator.
According to Ward, he's had musical leanings since beginning piano lessons at the age of seven, but didn't begin writing his own original material until he was 14 or 15. But in the years since, he's really honed his artistic vision, with the admitted help of modern conveniences. "Recording on a laptop and utilizing a lot of electronic instruments has really played a part in my approach," he says. "The recording software I use makes it possible to distort a guitar recording in a way that you wouldn't even be able to tell what instrument it is."
And while the textures and tones of the album blend together effortlessly, the recording process was a long one for Ward, who spent eight months poring over the songs that would make up Corridors, not knowing it was truly finished until right before he shared it with the music world. "Three nights before I uploaded it to Bandcamp, I listened to it all the way through without interruption for the first time. When I listened to them individually, I would have more concerns, but as a whole when I listened to it, each song seemed to complement the next and had a good flow throughout the entire listen. So once I finished listening, that's when I decided it was done."
Observer Drift opened for another Picked to Click artist, John Mark Nelson, at the Entry in August, but playing more shows in the future isn't high on Ward's priority list. "I can admit that performing live is not my strongest ability," he says. "I almost feel embarrassed playing songs that I simply wrote at home in my free time. I feel like they really aren't good enough to be given stage time. I would possibly do other shows here and there, but regarding touring or playing out in attempts to establish a reputable name in live music ... that's not a huge concern of mine."
Ward's been writing some new acoustic-based material, in an effort to get less digital, but the songs already in his arsenal have captured the attention of music fans not only in Minnesota and the U.S., but Europe and South America as well, which Ward is still trying to grasp. But rest assured he's not letting this growing interest in his songs go to his head. "I feel like if I attempted to take music too seriously, I would lose what I have right now. I love the fact that people can find it without [my] having to market it or promote the life out of it. I write it, I record it, and I upload it. The rest is really up to whomever chooses to listen to it and who they share it with."
Prissy Clerks frontgirl Clara Salyer has built her pedigree around an ability to adapt.
Last year, the 20-year-old guitarist's pet project, Total Babe, dissolved amid the departure of her lead guitarist — a certain Julian Casablancas doppelganger who sought opportunities across the pond fronting a little band called Howler. In the throes of recording a full-length with Total Babe, Salyer scrapped the heft of the work and moved forward with friend and Red Pens frontman Howard Hamilton toward a set of Drag City-drenched demos that became Prissy Clerks.
"We'd been plotting playing together for a while," Hamilton says from the steamy confines of Uptown's Savoy Pizza. "And Total Babe wasn't anymore, so I kind of insisted on being the bass player."
Salyer speaks of these steps forward in serendipitous terms — an attitude that gives the wunderkind less credit than is due in the wake of such resilience. In her words, the band was born from purchasing a shell-pink Jazzmaster more so than Total Babe's dissolution. "Howard has a good way of saying, 'That guitar's got a couple more songs in it,' where guitars do a service to you," Salyer says. "I almost credit buying that guitar with starting Prissy Clerks."
There's also the girl's knack for seeking out backing players, which include rock historian Hamilton, Teenage Strangler guitarist Dylan Ritchie, and Total Babe drummer Tim Leick Jr. Salyer sought out accordionist Emily Lazear during a performance with another indie up-and-comer, Wolf Mountain.
"Clara was talking up this girl, saying, 'This is the girl we're gonna get for Prissy Clerks, and we're going to the State Fair on this day to check her out,'" Hamilton says. "Wolf Mountain played to like 10 people right next to the skateboard demo, and that was enough." Adding to that thread of adaptability, Salyer and co. work around Lazear's out-of-state schooling. Their expatriate's role — one that doesn't rely on anachronistic wheezes of accordion but rather melodic inhales — is still wholly felt on their new record, Bruise or Be Bruised, which is due in November.
The group spent spring and summer recording in Pachyderm Studio veteran Brent Sigmeth's home studio and Hollow Boys frontman Ali Jaafar's dingier Minneapolis space. While Sigmeth's Cannon Falls abode offered rural zen and pettable dogs, Jaafar stirred crustier aesthetics, which Salyer was forced to work around. "He left a message for her saying, 'Don't come over. An animal has died in the roof, and it smells so bad that I can't even find it,'" Hamilton recalls.
Listening to Bruise or Be Bruised, there are sonic schisms between the riff-driven aggression assumingly laid down beneath Jaafar's rot-laden rafters and the listless, open strums more appropriate for Cannon Falls. But with Salyer's ability to see her vision through a domino-line of compromises, perhaps their most tranquil moments rose from their more hellish surroundings.
By Jack Spencer
"We haven't done one photo shoot where every member has been in it," says Audio Perm rapper 80H20 with a laugh. That's because the AP crew, which has risen to prominence putting in work and a fresh approach to the Twin Cities rap sound, is more than 10 members deep.
Each Audio Perm show features material stemming from a number of side projects and group efforts. A rotating cast of young rappers — including Chantz Erolin, 80H20, Bobby Raps, Ramiro X, Yakub, Big Dylan, and Unfuh Qwittable — spit over beats provided by Taylor Madrigal, Cory Grindberg, and Julian Fairbanks. At shows, including the last Soundset, opening slots for big names like Kendrick Lamar, and AP's very own block party, these performances have slowly grown into melees putting forth the team of rappers as one entity.
"It used to be like a medley, just sharing dope shit over Audio Perm beats," says Madrigal, who formed an initial trio with Grindberg and Fairbanks as a producer crew. "It's pretty much just some stuntin' shit, like look at all these dope songs we made with all these dope rappers, and they're our fucking homies."
Beyond the manic energy the large group of young scoundrels creates, the guys have drawn attention from fans and older-generation rap veterans thanks to their thought-provoking content and distinct instrumental style. The newcomers have gotten a lot of support from the old heads — many members of Audio Perm met through I Self Devine's hip-hop classes at Hope Community Center — which isn't surprising considering they've been around in the scene as fans, students, and budding artists for years.
"A lot of us do a really good job of dressing up our own personal ideas, styles, and values in this way that's fun and enjoyable," says Chantz Erolin of his work with Audio Perm. "Everybody kind of shines through that in their own way. It's given depth to this hype and it's made me feel in friendly competition with the rappers that I'm working with."
A compilation of scattered tracks previously released, We Out Chea, came out over the summer, but an official crew record is slated for the coming year. Audio Perm represent the new face of local hip hop, one that pays homage to predecessors but is striking out in bold new directions. "We got Slug hollering at Julian beats," Erolin continues. "We got P.O.S. and them bigging up Cory. If I'm not careful, I could get left in the dust. I feel like I have to match up to them."