From Prince to Lizzo, funk has often been the Twin Cities’ most popular export. But there’s more hip-hop in the streets than anything else.
This week’s Local Frames is evidence of rap’s local ubiquity. Three of the five videos in this edition fall within the genre’s loosely drawn lines, with one coming from one of Minnesota’s foremost voices on the mic. It’s artists like these that make the Minneapolis Sound feel ancient. But how long is hip-hop’s time in the sun gonna last?
The other two videos this week, well, they’re a completely different flavor. Perhaps they’re evidence of the next sound that will define the Twin Cities.
Rob-1 – “Ride wit Me” (PREMIERE)
Cedar-Riverside’s Rob-1 prizes loyalty above all else: Ride and die or don’t apply. The hard-boiled rapper’s new song “Ride wit Me” is a freeform “fuck you” to those who left him holding the bag in the past. Rob-1 teams up with Jake Handegard of Morningside Films to show Rob-1 at his most desperate, sitting in the strobe of a police light without anyone to stand by his side. A damn shame.
Atmosphere – “Love Each Other”
Atmosphere’s surprise December LP Whenever completes the rap duo’s evolution from angsty malcontents to thankful vets. Slug raps without a care, choosing to maintain the peace that he’s found. “Love Each Other” capitulates that vibe with its message of love’s transformative power. The video, directed by Thomas Aksamit, takes place in an underground speakeasy, where a handsome stranger chases down a lover, only to realize it’s all a hallucination. Hopefully that’s not the lesson the Rhymesayers stalwarts leave the record with, but it would be classic Atmosphere if there was some darkness that prevailed. Atmosphere play the Palace Theatre on February 28, closing out their North American tour.
26 Bats! – “Magnified Iris”
26 Bats! are cresting with momentum after finishing fourth in the 2019 Picked to Click poll.The genre-rejecting collective stunned with 2018’s Onyx, and they’ve been playing incessantly since, planting their flag as one of the hardest-working local bands. But it’s been a while since they’re released new music, which is why “Magnified Iris” is such a welcome surprise. The whimsical tune comes with a gorgeous video, directed by Michaela Shae Fitzgerald, in which sheet-wearing creeps come to slash singer Bailey Cogan’s outfit to bits. Come for the graveyard chase scene, stay for the dance number featuring Cogan, Cullen Roger, and Artemis Brown.
Reel Smoovv – “The Era”
Deeply Rooted Tribe is one of the Twin Cities’ most consistent rap acts. The entire lineup can rip verses, and they make it look so goddamn fun. They’re like the local version of the Flipmode Squad, which is why the new song “The Era” feels so natural. Borrowing liberally from Busta Rhymes’ “Woo Hah!! Got You All in Check,” Tribe member Reel Smoovv flexes in the streets of New York, feeling like his fast-rapping idol. Eirik O'Keefe Bratli directs.
New Primals – “Modern Lover”
Horse Girl Energy is the best album name to come out of the Twin Cities in at least a decade, and we can thank the demented minds behind New Primals for coming up with it. That record doesn’t come out until March, but the 2019 Picked to Click finalists are giving us the first taste of what a geniusly named album sounds like with the new video for “Modern Lover.” The song is a frothy-mouthed fit, an animalistic screed. Director Adam Foster Jacobs doesn’t hold back, doing his best to recreate New Primals’ confrontational live show through the video.
Dream of seeing your video appear in Local Frames? Email writer Jerard Fagerberg at [email protected]