We worry a lot about representation in music here in the Twin Cities.
Rightfully so. Minneapolis is 18.6 percent black and 49.7 percent female, according to U.S. Census data. We have sizeable immigrant populations from Africa, Asia, and South America. Minneapolis is the 22nd "queerest" city in the U.S., according to LGBTQ magazine The Advocate, and St. Paul ranks 9th. It’s important that all these populations see equal (if not proportionate) representation in the music scene.
There will always be a problematic element of a straight, white man (me) being the person to deliver their art to the general public. I do my best to signal-boost cultures other than my own, because I recognize the need to do so. We do falter -- as a scene, as a paper, as a community -- but a good bit of intention-setting goes a long way.
Actual Wolf -- “Baby Please”
If you like wolves, indie rock is a great genre for you. But in the pantheon of wolf-named bands, Grand Rapids’ Actual Wolf stand out for their humble deference for the classics and nose-thumbing moniker. In the new video for “Baby Please,” which premiered (appropriately) over at American Songwriter on Friday, Actual Wolf deliver a vintage road song, divining their Neil Young influence along the way.
Director Erik Nelson and cinematographer Kyle Moe give “Baby Please” a 1970s serial TV feel, taking the perspective of a backseat passenger as actors Iris Rose Page and Joey Hamburger flee the law in a Badlands-inspired torrent of passion. Actual Wolf’s new record, Faded Days, comes out September 15 via Red House Records.
Greg Grease -- “Migraine”
Greg Grease is returning to his solo work after a breakout performance with ZULUZULUU in 2016, leading the way with new single “Migraine,” which premiered at 2 Dope Boyz last week. The song comes from Grease’s upcoming Down So Long, and it finds the Minneapolis emcee and his richly enunciated flow over a psychedelic beat produced by Psymun, Trelly Mo, and himself.
Mo also interrupts the Alan De Leon Taverna-directed video with an infomercial, showing how Grease uses humor to space out his politically conscious verses with a bit of levity. ZULUZULUU may have given Grease his most visibility yet, but “Migraine” (and, by extension, Down So Long) show what the lyrical powerhouse can do on his own two feet. Grease plays Icehouse on Saturday along with TBA special guests.
Q Bangga and Tvick -- “No Scrubs (Remix)”
Is it really a remix if you can’t recognize the original song in the retake? Minneapolis rappers Q Bangga and Tvick (both of Diamond Nation Studios) test that question in their take on seminal TLC track “No Scrubs." The two emcees build off a vastly distorted version of the R&B staple’s guitar line, turning the song into an Auto-Tuned mumblerap banger.
Taking place in a pastel hotel room with a thick model in a bikini-cut onesie, the “No Scrubs” video bears no resemblance to its antecedent. Instead of being a defiant feminist proclamation, the remix by Q Bangaa and Tvick is a jaded account from the other side. By pivoting the viewpoint, the Minneapolis duo adds a previously unseen perspective to the triumphant breakup anthem.
Skyhaven -- “Free”
In the 11 months since their last feature on Local Frames, Skyhaven have discovered their style and voice. Though they still retain a lot of the dramatic flourish of their purely instrumental days, Skyhaven have glossed up their music, opting for a poppier math-rock sound. “Free” is their determining single, directed by Jake Woodbridge and produced by Jude Aotik.
Trans-Ams and The Karate Kid were before Skyhaven’s time, but the teen band channel John Hughes' high-school movies for “Free,” shredding in the style of a decade they never lived through. It just goes to illustrate how carefree they’ve become since adding some glitter to their style and giving Keston Wright vocalist duties.
Malik Augustus -- “Move Your Body”
Malik Augustus’ last video, "Trip," blew me away with its complex and illusory visuals and detached-from-reality lyrics. But the young Minneapolis rapper/producer’s follow-up, “Move Your Body," aims for the hips instead of the mind. J Bird sets Augustus up with a rattling salsa beat, and the buoyant emcee follows up with a carefree sprawl of verses that beckon from the dance floor.
The team of Gabe Hostetler, Daniel Laumann, and Eric Johnson return to the fold, joined by choreographer John Mark, to make the blissed-out video. As Augustus takes to the beach to charm his young love, the rapper shows his enviable versatility on the mic while his production team shows their versatility behind the lens.
Dream of seeing your video appear in Local Frames? Email writer Jerard Fagerberg at [email protected]