Soundset is only three weeks away.
That means a few Twin Cities hip-hop acts—including Atmosphere, Prof, Dem Atlas, and the Lioness—will soon be getting their biggest looks of the year, sharing the same stages as some of rap’s biggest names. But there’s still a ton of local talent that won’t be represented at that fest, and you’ll find those acts in our eclectic May rap roundup below.
Album: Unofficial remix
Rappers have been remixing Three 6 Mafia’s trumpet-blasting 2000 song “Who Run It” left and right, inspired by Chicago’s great G Herbo, who absolutely murdered the beat during a Drake-approved radio freestyle in March. But young Minneapolis street rapper Bookie (who happens to be the much younger cousin of Minneapolis O.G. Muja Messiah) took a different cue from Herbo, recording this fluidly flow-switching remix of Herbo’s “Never Cared.”
After being named City Pages’ Best Hip-Hop Artist 2018, Minneapolis’ Dwynell Roland returned with his first single in nine months. “I know y’all been waiting a year, I’m back, go tell all your peers,” he announces on the bass-heavy, Travis Gorman-produced barrage that is “Clipped.” His confidence is unassailable here, like he knows he won’t be cooling down anytime soon.
Pilot Jonny ft. Metasota—“Purge”
Album: I’m Not Sad No More..
Minneapolis rapper Pilot Jonny’s latest project, I’m Not Sad No More.., is heavy on guest features from Minnesota artists, including Muja Messiah, Sophia Eris, Sole, and Finding Novyon. Metasota shows up on the Rich Garvey-produced “Purge,” and while Jonny is in fine form here and on the rest of the project, it’s a fiery, incisive Meta who contributes a Minnesota verse-of-the-year contender.
Prof ft. Cashinova—“No”
Album: Pookie Baby
Label: Rhymesayers Entertainment
Last month, Prof finally delivered his follow-up to 2015’s Liability with Pookie Baby. While Prof remains one of Minnesota’s quirkiest and wildest artists, one of my favorite moments on Pookie Baby is one of its most straightforward: the taunting, trap-influenced “No,” which features an assist by Prof’s fellow Stophouse Group artist Cashinova. I wouldn’t mind hearing a joint project from these two at some point.
Destiny Roberts—“Full Moon”
Album: Moon Melanin Mami
Label: 3rdworld Music Entertainment
As multi-talented as Destiny Roberts is, expertly intertwining rap and neo-soul sounds, I usually like the St. Paul artist best when she’s animatedly and energetically rapping her ass off. She does a whole lot of that on “Full Moon,” off the new, deluxe edition of her conceptual project Moon Melanin Mami. Combined with white-hot producer Angelo Bombay’s progressive trap beat, it’s the most unique song in this roundup.
Album: Number 5
Label: Gold House 78
Soda Supreme’s solid new project, Number 5, really kicks into gear during its third song, the booming “Motivated.” Amid all its swagger, Supreme also slips in some earnest and even endearing lines: “Drinking holy water, reading books to my daughter/ Trying to be the best father/ Please don’t judge me, Your Honor.”
Label: Coines Creations
Minneapolis’ Student 1, a 2017 City Pages Picked to Click selection, admits to being “nerdy as a motherfucker” on “Lung,” a standout off his new Drag EP. But when Stu is at his best, as he is here, he sounds a hell of a lot cooler than he may think he is.
Tarxan—“Who Run It”
Album: Unofficial remix
St. Paul street rapper Tarxan is one of the Minnesota artists to try his hand at the aforementioned “Who Run It” challenge. If you’ve heard some of Tarxan’s previous freestyles (“Faneto,” “Drill Time,” “Hip Hopper”), you won’t be surprised he killed this one too, fast-rapping about the St. Paul streets and even mentioning the recent killing of fellow rapper BillyThaKidd.
Why Khaliq—“Harder Way”
Label: Six5 Records
It seems like Why Khaliq ends up in these roundups every time; the St. Paul native is constantly proving why he’s one of our finest Twin Cities MCs. Though possibly inspired by Atlanta rapper Derez De’Shon’s breakthrough hit “Hardaway,” “Harder Way” is another in a long line of understated underground gems from Khaliq.
ZR and LilMo—“Life of the Party”
From out of nowhere, Minneapolis rappers ZR and LilMo have a minor internet hit on their hands. Unfamiliar with either artist, I’ll admit to scrolling past the “Life of the Party” video when I saw it pop up in my YouTube subscriptions via MinnesotaColdTV. But after another popular channel, HipWiki, included the catchy-as-hell song on a new roundup of gangsta/drill/trap tracks, I realized I was wrong to dismiss it.