Whether star-spangled or bunting, the flag was saluted yesterday. A gesture of loyalty for an independence that was won 240 (not 2016) years ago. It's easy to think of independence as something that's always just existed. The idea that it's fought for is obscured by historical precedent.
This week's Local Frames is a celebration of independence of another sort. One that is constantly fought for by the artists who wait tables in the day to afford a studio space and press records on credit. At the risk of sounding like a blowhard on one of the blowhardiest holidays on the calendar, it's an independence that is often overlooked.
So, hats off to the true independents.
Literati — "Swan Song"
You may remember Mercies May (of Strange and Distant Pictures) for his recent visual for Ecid's "Burn It Down." Now the apocalyptic filmmaker is back with a darker vision for his rap group's new single, "Swan Song." Literati is made up of May and Chris Caesar, and the hard-rapping duo have an edge that puts them alongside Rage Against the Machine in terms of aesthetics.
"Swan Song" is their latest single, a foreboding cut that's drowned in tribal drums. May's slate images fit the tone perfectly, creating a glimpse into post-humanity. Literati play with Tall Paul, Kobra, Dispute One, Orikal Uno, Wisco Kidz, and Purple Queen! at Honey on Thursday.
Monkey Warhol — "Lovely Lady" (feat. Unicorn Festival)
Fair warning: Once you watch the video for Monkey Warhol's "Lovely Lady," you'll be singing it to yourself for the rest of your life. It's that insidiously catchy. The kiddie-aimed electronica song is built with weapons-grade repetitiousness that makes less and less sense with every repeat.
The point of the song, if there is a point, is that there's a woman who looks like a taco. With a vocal assist from Unicorn Festival, the song really relishes the absurdity of its concept. Gigi Ranchero's animations add to the madness, with tacos and chickens dancing blithely across the screen as nothing even resembling a logical moment occurs.
Taylor J — "Every Gram Counts"
Welcome to chapter 3 of the Taylor J Takeover (see here and here for the first two editions). This time around, he again pairs with 13TwentyThree to document his hustle. The St. Paul rapper is posed to release his new mixtape in July or August, but the leadup has been impressive so far.
"Every Gram Counts" is your typical hard-headed dealer anthem, with J rapping steadfastly about his plans to elevate himself out of the ghetto one sale at a time. But what sets the song apart from others of its ilk is J's determination. Through pensive bars, he shows a beast lying in wait. Once he kicks the game, he'll be on his way to greatness. But first, he's gotta flip a couple grams.
Destiny Roberts — "Glow"
Destiny Roberts believes in true, human beauty. She's done with prescribed notions of perfection and soap ads that halfheartedly tell women they're naturally gorgeous. Those messages miss women with melanin. "Glow" is her message to black women — there is nothing nontraditional about your beauty.
Roberts' new album Just a Reminder — which she released on June 11 — is built on the foundation of this message. Through personal stories and triumphing optimism, the St. Paul rhymer inspires the listener to revel in their own soul. See her July 16 at Mill City Nights.
Nick Costa — "A Morning Session with Nick Costa" (PREMIERE)
Filmmaker Seth McGaha has been using his camera to paint intimate portraits of the Twin Cities' most undersold talents. He recently gave us a tour of Luke Redfield's home, and now he's turning the lens to Nick Costa, musical everyman from bands such as the Person & the People, the 4onthefloor, Crash Bandits, and Dan Mariska & the Boys Choir.
McGaha gets Costa to open up about his maturation as a songwriter as Costa performs in his kitchen over a fresh pot of coffee. Costa's voice sounds arresting and bare in the empty room, though there's still a definitive warmth to the session — something that's underscored by the cat traipsing through the scene while Costa uncorks his preening yowl. Seth went deeper on the encounter on his blog.