Long live TyyP.
That’s it, that’s the intro.
Finding Novyon – “Majin Flow”
Album: Super Saiyan 3
Label: Anime Klub
Minneapolis’ Finding Novyon teamed up exclusively with producer Angelo Bombay for his new Super Saiyan 3 EP. It was a wise choice, as the duo went five-for-five on the project. A couple other songs seem to be getting more traction, but “Majin Flow” is my personal favorite for Novyon’s memorable bars (“Look at all these goofs tryna get up in the loot/Niggas stuck down at the bottom like some fuckin’ Jimmy Choos”) and Angelo’s flute melodies, which, alone, might get stuck in your head.
Juice Lord – “Float On”
St. Paul’s Juice Lord has been on the scene for a few years, but it wasn’t until last month that he finally released his first project, the 5/5 EP, which includes guest spots from other Twin Cities rappers Why Khaliq and Reefa Rei. The young MC has already made his name as a precocious lyricist, and, in reflecting on life in his beloved city, he’s at his most heartfelt and introspective on the EP’s closing cut, “Float On.” The Costis-produced beat samples the Floaters’ 1977 hit of the same name, to melancholy effect.
KC – “40 Months”
KC, aka BDKC, was an emerging figure in Twin Cities street rap when he went to prison for a headline-making 2015 shooting—a situation he vividly recounted on his self-explanatory song “Last Day Out.” Forty months later, the St. Paul rapper is a free man once again, and appropriately, his first song since being released is a lyrical laundry list of the many things that weighed on his mind while locked up, including his eagerness to return home, the disloyalty of friends neglecting to put money on his books, and his disgust at other associates snitching.
Knucky – “3 Wishes”
Knucky is one of my favorite lyricists in all of Twin Cities rap; I’ll happily listen to him spit bar after bar, with no hook anywhere. That’s not what he does on “3 Wishes” though. It’s a deliberately more hook- and melody-driven song than what I typically expect from Knucky; some of it even reminds me of guys like Lil Durk and Roddy Ricch. “Got hits in the stash and I’m finna blow,” he raps, and I believe him. The guy is growing more versatile before our eyes.
Lizea Harper – “Cherry”
Album: Dark Remedy
Lizea Harper’s music may be more hip-hop adjacent than it is hip-hop, period; she qualifies as an MC, and she’s somewhat of a pop and electronic artist, too. “Cherry” may be the closest thing her new Dark Remedy—one of my favorite local albums of this summer—has to a straight-up rap song, but even this thrives on Harper’s artistic fluidity.
Lerado Khalil – “Girl Go Be a Star”
It’s easy to hear St. Paul’s Lerado Khalil and be able to tell that he’s a young dude. The brevity of his songs, his repetition, and his sleepy flows might annoy the hell out of (or just perplex) a stereotypical “old head.” But all in all, it’s a fresh sound, and one that Lerado has virtually perfected already, as evidenced by his latest project, Mildly Happy.
Muja Messiah – “PHO79”
Album: Lucky Bastard
Label: Brooklyn Dark Ent
Now in his early 40s, Minneapolis OG Muja Messiah continues to work like a hungry MC half his age, remaining well above-average in terms of both quality and quantity; you could easily argue that he’s making the best music of his career. With its trap drums and laser sounds, the final song on his new Lucky Bastard—not just my favorite Minnesota music release of the year, but one of my favorite albums of 2019, period—is its most contemporary-sounding, pairing well with a familiarly witty and especially playful Muja.
Nimic Revenue – “Paramount”
Label: Def Jam Recordings
As previously mentioned in this space, St. Paul’s Nimic Revenue made a major move when she became the first Minnesota native to sign to Def Jam as a solo artist. In June, she rolled out her first project through the iconic label, Lifeline, receiving attention from outlets including Billboard and HotNewHipHop in the process. Though she has a relatively small catalog, Nimic is batting 1.000 with her sing-rap melodies, and the latest Lifeline highlight “Paramount” is one of her catchiest songs yet.
Pilot Jonny and THROWEDTOBIN Ft. Nyanga – “NFC”
I glanced at the tracklist for Pilot Jonny’s new Altitude EP with producer THROWEDTOBIN, and I thought “NFC” might somehow reference the Vikings and their reputation among the National Football Conference. Nope! That title stands for “Not for Clout,” and it’s a song that hinges on the notion that modern acts of clout-chasing (e.g. social media fuckery) are mere petty pursuits in the broader rap landscape.
TyyP Ft. Jaylap – “Paradox”
Album: Memoirs of a Junkie
Twin Cities music lost one of its most purely creative rappers when TyyP, born Tyler Peters, died in June. (Full disclosure: I went to school with Tyy for several years, and I knew him a little.) Tyy was a member of the raucous, relentless group Cram, and his posthumously released solo project Memoirs of a Junkie features a number of collaborations with fellow member Jaylap. “Paradox,” produced by Shrimpnose, also of Cram, is my favorite. While much of Memoirs of a Junkie vacillates between depressive and manic moods, “Paradox” is straight-up chill, recalling Flying Lotus’ alter-ego project Captain Murphy.