Gimme Leaks #1: Local hip-hop albums you may have missed

Gimme Leaks #1: Local hip-hop albums you may have missed
Photo by Jeffrey Bryce Bordenkecher

There's a glut of hip-hop coming out of the Twin Cities, and it can be a lot to try to digest. In the spirit of the Gimme Noise Mixtape series that ran on this blog, we now present to you a more focused album round-up, selecting three recently released albums by local rappers that deserve recognition. Welcome to Gimme Leaks.

Common Labor - Tale of the Troubadours

The combined work of Background Noise Crew's Analyrical and Phingaz is under the name Common Labor, whose debut work Tale of the Troubadours has a distinct sound thanks largely to Phingaz' organic beats. Most songs are built from acoustic guitars, hand claps, live bass drums, and tambourines to create a sort of fireside jam vibe that is complimented by Analyrical's storytelling and Phingaz' sung hooks.

The beats feel like beats and the raps feel like raps, but there's an almost folk sound going on underneath, with the occasional accordion or banjo accent to flesh out the full-sounding musical landscape. The lyrics are reflective, musing on the nature of art, progression and self-improvement, all delivered with an experienced sense of delivery that finds the boom-bap buried in the non-sample-based song structures. It's a forward-thinking record that does it's best to stay grounded in Background Noise's signature style.

Common Labor are throwing a release party for "Tale of the Troubadours" at Hell's Kitchen on Saturday, February 9, with Guante, Mike the Martyr and Kuley, hosted by MaLLy. All attendees will receive a free copy of the CD.

Gaines - Nightcrawler Reloaded

With a melodic undertone that gives each verse an almost hook-like quality, Gaines brings an airy and fun sensibility to a wide variety of tracks, ranging from straight hedonistic party anthems to reassuring break-up songs. Guest Chance the Rapper fits in perfectly over a Daywalker beat driven by acoustic guitar and an anthemic hook, as they both provide technically and emotionally apt verses resulting in a standout of this diverse album. Gaines takes similar strides as some of his Northside compatriots but sets himself apart with an adventurous feel to each song. He's someone to watch out for, and with a recent song-a-day cycle that found him beasting over a number of different styles of beats, his movement is proving hard to slow.

Tek and Jesslisten - The Co-Op

Tek's recent incarceration came at a bad time for the release of his own album as well as Meta's, with his collaboration with Jesslisten (aka Jesse James) The Co-Op dropping recently without as much fanfare as it deserves. The pair trade some raw and deft bars over precisely textured beats that are consistent as a whole even as they bring new heat with every tune. The bass and synths give a body to the tracks that punch with heavy drums and intricate sampled cuts, and the production is some of the best in the city. "I love to talk shit," says Tek, introducing the jazzy "The Answer". "It's one of the best things I do". Indeed, Tek and Jesslisten are both skilled at verbal barbs and ego-driven boasting, but as the song continues, they prove they're great at smooth-talking and introspection as well. There's a tightness to the two as a team, and this long-awaited full-length from the pair is an impressive example of why it's a shame Tek's behind bars.

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