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Brother Ali returns with a real beauty in May's Twin Cities rap roundup

Brother Ali

Brother Ali Photo courtesy of Biz3

Let's get right to it: These 10 recent songs are among the best of what Twin Cities rap currently has to offer.

Allan Kingdom Ft. Denzel Curry -- ‘The Fusion’
Album: LINES
Label: So Cold Records/Empire

Allan Kingdom linked up once again with collaborator Denzel Curry for the biggest-sounding song on his new album, LINES. “The Fusion” may not be as purely catchy as lead single “Know About It,” but Allan’s vocals, especially his Travis Scott-style chorus, are thrilling. Even better, though, may be Curry’s verse, with the fiery Florida spitter chomping up Ronny J and FNZ’s thunderous vortex of a beat.

Brother Ali -- ‘Never Learn’
Album: All the Beauty in This Whole Life
Label: Rhymesayers Entertainment

Rhymesayers mainstay Brother Ali announced a new album in February, his first since Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color five years ago. Following the release of “Pen to Paper” and “Own Light (What Hearts Are For),” the simultaneously swaggering and soulful “Never Learn” was more reason to be optimistic. The accompanying video, shot in New Mexico, is well worth an intent viewing.

Drelli -- ‘Oasis’
Album: Non-album single
Label: So Cold Records

In barely more than a minute and a half, Minneapolis upstart Drelli encapsulates some of the exciting things about his music: playful vocal deliveries, fluid sense of melody, and brightly colorful beats. Read more about Drelli via City Pages’ list of "10 Minnesota music acts poised to pop in 2017."

Rich Garvey ft. Nsikak -- ‘Antetokounmpo’
Album: Non-album single
Label: Self-released

Among the handful of tracks Rich Garvey has dropped since his solid Man of the People project last year, the Nsikak-assisted “Antetokounmpo” stands out. Inspired by Giannis Antetokounmpo, the lyrics range from straightforward boasts relating to the Milwaukee Bucks phenom (“On the way to being great, just a young buck coming up”) to the issue of Americans with long, unfamiliar names being given shorter nicknames (“Antetokounmpo: It ain’t hard to say, right?/ ‘Cause it’s just a name, right?/ So get my fuckin’ name right”).

Greg Grease -- ‘Migraine’
Album: Non-album single
Label: Sound Verite Records

One year past the release of the modern T.C. music masterpiece that is ZULUZULUU’s space-funker What’s the Price?, Greg Grease is back at it with solo music. “Migraine” isn’t the straight-up stoner song its cover art suggests, though its lyrics do drift in the way one’s thoughts might during a weed high.

The Lioness -- ‘O’Brother’
Album: Non-album single
Label: Self-released

There’s always serious weight and power in the words of the Lioness. “O’Brother” is a characteristically personal song from the Minneapolis artist, remembering the life of her older brother Corey, who was just 42 when he passed. The first verse is particularly affecting, with the Lioness rapping from the perspective of Corey’s now-fatherless son.

Meezy -- ‘Keys to Life’
Album: PoLo La Familia
Label: Hybrid Global

The St. Paul pair of rapper Meezy and producer Kush2x recently collaborated for a seven-song EP, PoLo La Familia. Press play and the gorgeous, twinkling piano of Kush’s beat on opener “Keys to Life” will intrigue you immediately. Meezy's nonchalant, melodic flow can easily wiggle its way inside your head and stay there. It's both a strong song by itself and an effective introduction to the EP that’ll make you want to hear more.

Metasota -- ‘Psymun Says’
Album: Non-album single
Label: Self-released

I love how Metasota summed up his It’s Just Rap - The Mixtape from earlier this year: “If you like rap, you’ll like this.” Sometimes, it’s that simple: If you’re a faithful hip-hop fan, you know a natural-born MC when you hear one. Like Greg Grease’s abovementioned “Migraine,” “Psymun Says” is buttressed by a laid back, supremely head-noddable beat with production by Psymun, though this one has a little more J Dilla in it.

Lucien Parker -- ‘20/20’
Album: Non-album single
Label: Self-released

Minneapolis prodigy Lucien Parker celebrates his recent birthday by reflecting on what it means to have lived a full two decades on this earth. One of two new collabs with BNJMN, “20/20” is my favorite, opening with contemplative piano before Parker introduces his fittingly thoughtful lyricism. In the grand scheme of things, 20 is still a young age to be, but Parker is confidently moving forward.

Tarxan -- ‘Hip Hopper’
Album: Non-album single
Label: Self-released

St. Paul’s Tarxan has been bodying remixes for a while now -- from his “Faneto” to “Drill Time” and beyond, he’s made it into an art form. On his remix of Blac Youngsta and Lil Yachty’s “Hip Hop” (which preceded his also-hot remix of XXXTentacion’s “Look at Me” by a few days), he piles on evidence that he’s the Twin Cities’ finest street rapper. The minimal beat leaves plenty of space for rappers to make the song their own, and Tarxan takes full advantage.