Producers don’t always get a fair shake.
Often the silent partners of the hip-hop world, producers are actually the biggest presence on any given track. Sure, the rapper is standing at the forefront, and it’s easy to be seduced into thinking the lyrics are a song's most noteworthy element, but without the canvas, there’d be nothing to paint on.
So I’m going to make more of an effort to shoutout the folks behind the boards in these Local Frames rundowns. Luckily, I got two impeccably produced tracks to discuss during the first week in my endeavor.
Fox & Coyote -- “In Sunlight”
The cool earnestness of Fox & Coyote makes them immediately relatable despite their more avant garde elements. As singer Ryan Evans’ voice saws through a melody and anxiety-inducing alarms reach from the background into the foreground, the simple honesty of the songwriting keeps your grounded. When Evans sings “God I want you” on the band’s new song “In Sunlight,” suddenly, there is no more relevant truth in the world.
The video for “In Sunlight,” directed by Maxwell Collyard and Leeya Jackson, also dredges up a familiar scene. We see a forlorn lover wrestling with his sheets, one edge of the mattress exposed, trying to erase a memory. Through his constant attempts to detach, we see an amalgam of experiences we’ve all had -- a true night of despair before the pillow.
Fox & Coyote will celebrate the video release on August 12 at the 331. They’ll be playing alongside Poolboy and Lauren Piper.
Collapsing Stars -- “2012”
Justin Wayne Nelson of Collapsing Stars was stuck in what he calls “artistic paralysis.” After going for over a year without writing any new lyrics, he reached out to local music everyman Jeremy Messersmith. Messersmith’s guidance was enough to uncork Nelson’s creativity, and the resulting record, 2012, was released on August 1.
The title track to that record struggles with 2012’s much-ballyhooed “Mayan Apocalypse” and the anxiety it begat. In the video for the song, Nelson jousts with his impending doom as Biblical lithographs flash across the screen. Ultimately, he's undeterred and even empowered by surviving the prophesied end--and he emerges with a full songbook to share.
Jaylap -- "Do Like Mi"
Minneapolis hip-hop motherfuckers CRAM have stepped up their game in 2017, releasing videos and songs at a startling clip. They've double their solo efforts as well, with each of the four members popping up on tracks all over the local rap scene. The latest endeavor comes from Jaylap, whose new mumblerap opus “Do Like Mi” dropped last week via director Kale Eickhof.
As you’d expect from any and all things CRAM-related, it’s a trip. The video begins with Jaylap dropping a pill into a Corona and proceeding to wild out like the post-millennial burnout he is as Windows 95 graphics play over the screen. With its earworm chorus and professional-level mixing, “Do Like Mi” could hold rank with most Top 40 tracks of its ilk -- thanks in large part to 1kLowkey’s job on production.
GainesFM -- “Smile”
The title track from GainesFM’s recent EP Smile begins with an Evanescence callback, “Smile,” and immediately feels volatile. The Topper Atwood beat is utterly beguiling, layering vicious trap snares over graveyard keys, but Gaines know exactly how to reign it in, creating a blurry love song with the disparate pieces he's given.
FreeMinds in-house director Robert Henry mixes dozens of shots together – some from a highway underpass, some from a carnival, some from the James J. Hill House – creating a visual that’s just as disorienting as the song. Through the chaos, however, you may recognize a few members of V.I.C.E. Boys -- the local hip-hop anarchists who also love fucking around in St. Paul mansions.
Lulu's Playground -- “Late for a Date”
There are few things more touristy than renting a four-wheel surrey at a Twin Cities park and riding it around with your friends. It’s corny as hell. But, we’ve all done it, and improvisational band Lulu’s Playground is here to let you know it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
In the video for their new jam “Late for a Date,” the four musicians tool around Como Park in a surrey with their instruments, somehow steering clear of joggers and pissing Shih Tzus while they scrape together a polka. Cloverleaf Audio captures the good-timing madness.
Dream of seeing your video appear in Local Frames? Email writer Jerard Fagerberg at [email protected]