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Finding Novyon and P.O.S bridge the generation gap in June's Twin Cities rap roundup

Finding Novyon

Finding Novyon Max Heyes

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

Brother Ali -- "Dear Black Son"
Album: All the Beauty in This Whole Life
Label: Rhymesayers Entertainment

The concept behind this cut from Ali’s excellent new album, All the Beauty in This Whole Life, may be straightforward, but it’s masterfully and touchingly executed. Ali raps as if in conversation with his son, addressing him honestly about the adverse inevitabilities he’s bound to encounter as a black male growing up in America. More powerfully, though, Ali assures the kid that he can ultimately be resilient: “You got a spirit that a bullet can’t kill/ That doesn’t make it any less real.”

DB Tha Rasta and Lil Ant -- "Fresh Out the Zoo"
Album: Non-album single
Label: Self-released

This St. Paul connection from DB Tha Rasta and Lil Ant has a unique chemistry rising out of their different levels of experience in the rap game The older DB has been doing his thing for years, collabing with the likes of Boosie, G Herbo, and Famous Dex, while Lil Ant is the younger spitter who never delivers a weak verse. Here, they meet halfway, with DB establishing his solid songcraft and Ant bringing his raw street lyricism.

 

Dubb P -- "Blackin Out"
Album: Non-album single
Label: Self-released

Chicago rappers G Herbo and Lil Bibby have connected for (no exaggeration) dozens of strong collabos over the years, and “Blackin Out” is one of their latest standouts. DJ L’s beat is hard and menacing, and because of that, it’s no surprise that the tough St. Paul street rapper Dubb P would want to hop on it. The energy to Dubb's flow keeps this remix mesmerizing throughout. Look for Dubb’s solo mixtape Akeem the Dream to drop August 1.

Finding Novyon ft. P.O.S -- "Never Too High"
Album: That’s My Dawg
Label: So Cold Records

“Never Too High,” the lead single from Finding Novyon’s upcoming debut album, That’s My Dawg, is a comprehensive showing of Novy’s rapping ability and A1 ear for beats. Lyrically, it’s both boastful and personal, while the beat goes from quiet to loud and back again, with contemplative, piano-based sections and harder trap portions. With a verse from P.O.S, it effectively bridges the generation gap, resulting in a song that flows beautifully despite its varied sonics. That’s My Dawg is out June 9. 

Heiruspecs -- "Relativity"
Album: Non-album single
Label: Self-released

Heiruspecs probably don't expect to become much more renowned than they are, which allows the long-running St. Paul band to focus on the sheer quality of their music. It’s what defines a song like “Relativity,” their first single since releasing last fall’s theskyisfalling EP. Felix and Muad’dib deliver sagacious, reflective verses, and the latter provides a sneakily catchy chorus atop the quietly gorgeous instrumentation.

Knowledge -- "Traumatized"
Album: Non-album single
Label: Self-released

Knowledge has a lot on his mind. Over the beat from Meek Mill’s “Traumatized,” a dramatic instrumental defined by its piano progressions, he’s brutally honest about the effects of street life and the death and incarceration that inevitably come with it. Even at a lengthy seven minutes, he keeps your attention. It’s unclear at this point how serious this newcomer is about rap, but he definitely has potential.

Kristoff Krane Ft. Lady Midnight -- "Shine On"
Album: Kairos
Label: Self-released

Kristoff Krane is preparing to release a two-part album entitled Kairos, and lead single “Shine On” is a sign that the project could be something special. Lyrically dense and sonically inventive, songs like this are why Krane is one of the Twin Cities’ most beloved alt-rappers. Meanwhile, Lady Midnight’s cameo is more like a layer of the beat than a distinct guest feature, and it fits excellently. The first part of Kairos will be released July 11. 

Lexii Alijai -- "Me Myself & I"
Album: Non-album single
Label: Self-released

On her new remix of Beyonce’s Dangerously in Love single “Me Myself & I,” St. Paul prodigy Lexii Alijai sounds like she’s having fun and simultaneously keeps it real about relationships. Though she presumably put the song together relatively quickly, this alone justifies Kehlani’s recent praise for Alijai -- the Oakland singer said that she’s her “biggest fucking fan.”

M R$ch Ft. Famous Dex -- "Runnin Thru"
Album: Non-album single
Label: Self-released

At this point, a feature from Chicago’s ubiquitous Famous Dex is practically guaranteed to make anyone’s song a success -- and “Runnin Thru” has definitely worked out for St. Paul native M R$ch, with its video racking up 85,000 YouTube views and counting. But while Dex’s cameo might be the reason for people are interested, it’s R$ch’s hook that leaves the biggest impression -- this might be the single catchiest song on this list. The spacey trap beat comes courtesy of St. Paul producer Kush2x, who’s bound to grab the attention of more big-name rappers like Dexter.

Ness Nite Ft. Drelli -- "Happy Ness"
Album: Non-album single
Label: POW Recordings

The genre-bending music of 2016 Picked to Click finisher Ness Nite (now living in Brooklyn) isn't easily categorized. Neither is Drelli’s. So “Happy Ness” isn’t strictly a “rap” song, with Ness transitioning from singing to rapping and back again, while Drelli comes with a verse that highlights his elastic voice. The beat is a plinking, vaguely tropical thing by Ness’ main collaborator, Mike Frey.