Eight Twin Cities hip-hop producers you should hear now: Vol. 5


We return once again with another roundup of local producers worth listening to. The range and quality of beats coming out of Minnesota never fails to impress, and this month's mix ought to go perfect with the beginning of backyard barbeque season. Get ready for some great instrumental work from another batch of homegrown artists!

Julian Fairbanks
Representing the Audio Perm collective, Julian Fairbanks has a classic digging-in-the-crates aesthetic, chopping beats with a Dilla-esque approach that flips loops in a distinctly different way on each song. It's clear Julian derives great joy from finding samples, crafting beats with a playful sensibility that always finds a way to create a new groove. He's dropped a few solo instrumental projects and collaborations with rappers, such as the Social Capital EP with Manny Phesto and the recently released nonviolence with rapper JO3MA.

Featured track: "Triplex" from The Best New Dance, 2013.
Julian Fairbanks on Bandcamp / Soundcloud / Twitter

Producing and engineering out of state-of-the-art studio Shock and Audio, EQthesound has a hand in a number of projects of varying genres. He has a particular flair for producing hip-hop, working closely with select rappers such as Rob-1 and Manny Phesto. "Sound the Alarm" comes from the upcoming album I Want My Name Back with King Fuvi, to which he contributed production alongside Nicademus and others.

Featured track: "Sound the Alarm" from I Want My Name Back, 2014.
EQthesound on Soundcloud / Twitter

Emazin's résumé reads like a laundry list of big-name industry artists; he's worked with everyone from Chief Keef to Twista to Talib Kweli to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, as well as having songs featured in numerous television shows over the past year. He's worked with numerous local luminaries as well, and regularly puts out strong instrumental projects. "Gwopoland" is taken from his most recent project, Godzilla Beats, and he's already preparing to drop a new project in July called Finally Summer. His feature in The Source for Unsigned Hype is clearly warranted.

Featured track: "Gwopoland" from Godzilla Beats, 2014.
Emazin on GotInstrumentals / Twitter

Southside Minneapolis producer Whoolley stretches the confines of downtempo bass-heavy beats, spreading into imperceptibly different territory on each song. With an impressive cadre of songs already populating his Soundcloud page, Whoolley has also produced for Greg Grease, the stirring "Lest We Forget" off his latest, Black King Cole EP.

Featured track: "Train Spotting", via Soundcloud, 2013.
Whoolley on Soundcloud / Twitter

Andre Mariette
In addition to rapping as a solo artist and with swing-hop group Ménage Quad, and engineering music with Ackronem in Timbral Studios, Andre Mariette produces lush and full instrumentals that he also mixes and masters. He's contributed beats to albums like Botzy's Buck Fotzy, and he will be dropping a new instrumental EP called Sense Made on June 9, which features "Conquered." With some huge bass and excellent keyboard work, the EP reflects a number of moods and grooves, moving from downtempo jazz and chopped live instrumentation.

Featured track: "Conquered" from Sense Made, 2014.
Andre Mariette on Bandcamp / Soundcloud / Twitter

Benzilla is well known in local circles, having made a name for himself thanks to some standout tracks on records by I Self Devine, Toki Wright, and Muja Messiah. Full-length collaborative albums, like Rádio Do Canibal with BK-One and I.B.E.'s This, That & the Third, showcased his expertise with sample-flipping and album construction. "Standing Right Here" is taken from the latter, with some mixing help from the sound genius Mike Swoop.

Featured track: "Standing Right Here" from This, That and the Third, 2013.
Benzilla on Bandcamp / Soundcloud / Twitter

Mavin MC of Illuminous 3 rebranded himself as Tufawon for last year's Schwag, which he also produced in full, showcasing his skills on the mic and behind the boards. Combining a boom-bap sensibility with synth-based trap leanings, a Tufawon beat maintains his MC persona's grittiness but branches out into numerous directions from there. He's in the midst of a number of new projects, from a full-length Tufawon album to a collaborative effort with the USA Cuba Artist Exchange, which will expand on the sound he's shown off so far.

Featured track: "Around Midnight", Gimme Noise exclusive.
Tufawon on Bandcamp / Soundcloud / Twitter

Big Jess
Half of the Northeast duo Unknown Prophets, Big Jess has been a respected producer and rapper in the local scene for years, with no signs of slowing down his productivity. His massive Honorable Mention series showcased both his range and prolific work ethic, mixing and mastering his own beats for upward of 70 rappers. He's currently working on a collaborative project with Long Doe's Big Wiz, which should see release later this year.

Featured track: "Groceries" from Honorable Mention Volume 1, 2012.
Big Jess on DJBooth / Soundcloud / Twitter

If you have suggestions for artists to include in future mixes, please contact the author at [email protected]

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