No young Minnesota rapper has accomplished more in the past year than Dwynell Roland.
Last October, the Minneapolis MC released a nine-song EP, The Popular Nobody, on which he deftly handles different production styles (including spaced-out trap and neo-boom-bap) while still carving out a cohesive identity for himself.
One of Roland’s guests on the EP is P.O.S, who cameos on “Been Here.” That wouldn’t be the last time the pair worked together: In January, Roland delivered a standout verse on P.O.S’ epic Chill, dummy album cut “Pieces/Ruins,” and in March, he opened for the local indie-rap hero during a string of West Coast tour dates. “He cares about me and he cares about what I do,” Roland says of P.O.S. “It’s not just like, ‘All right, we’ll do a show and I’ll see you whenever.’ It was more than I could have ever asked for.”
Roland also performed at Rock the Garden in 2017 and scored a sponsorship with the North Loop-based Fulton Beer. But the 25-year-old rapper still works 45- and 50-hour weeks at his day job—recording music and playing shows means a lot of late nights followed by early mornings. Not that he’s complaining. “No one else is going to do this for me,” he says. “That’s why I don’t make excuses, like, ‘I don’t have time for this.’ I might as well get it while I can.”
Roland is making his crew look good, too. He’s one quarter of the Rotation, a collective with rappers Finding Novyon (No. 6 Picked to Click finisher last year) and Devon Reason, plus producer and DJ Travis Gorman. A Rotation group record is unlikely to materialize anytime soon, but the collective is set up to thrive on its members’ individual successes. “We’re just focusing on our solo stuff and just trying to figure out what really can work,” Roland says.
Roland is “damn near done” with his next album, but he hasn’t committed to a release date and he’s reluctant to reveal the album’s title. Still he’s clearly excited about what he’s cooking up, and he’s especially stoked for listeners to hear the album’s intro and another song, “Control It.”
Finding Novyon relocated to L.A. this year to explore more musical opportunities. Assuming Roland’s career wins continue to pile up, would he make that kind of move himself? “I feel like I still have a lot of work to do [in Minnesota]; I’m missing just a few things here,” he says. “But who knows what could happen?”