The local rap scene has already shown itself to be in control in 2014 -- and we're only halfway through. Creativity is coming from all corners of the Twin Cities.
Gimme Noise compiled our picks for the best rap albums thus far.
Allan Kingdom - Future Memoirs
Allan Kingdom is an exploratory rapper, taking great strides in multiple directions on his latest effort, Future Memoirs. It just dropped on Monday and already making a big impact. The fluidity of his soft-spoken and melodic style finds him singing on some tracks and machine-gun spitting on others, often landing somewhere in the middle. In some cases his influences are evident, in others he sounds like no one who's ever done it. He's an adventurous songwriter, and he produced the majority of the tracks himself. Juggling avant-pop leanings with cloud-rap sensibilities, the sonic experiments work more often than not. It's more developed than anything he's put out thus far, and hints at still further evolution.
Tall Paul - Ahead Of The Present
With cadences, golden-age lyricism, and production choices that represent classic Southside Minneapolis rap stylistics, the elements that set Tall Paul's Ahead of the Present
ahead of most are subtle but plentiful. It's easy to get caught up in the tongue-twister rhyming, which is quick-paced but not flashy and flow-focused, but it's really the writing that highlights the material's strength. The triplets and internal rhyming are more an aid to make lines more pointed and thought-provoking than to show off. There's uniquely solid specificity of topics on songs like "April Fools," a song dissecting the reaction to his biggest hit "Prayers In a Song" and its use of rapping in Ojibwe, and "The Show (Act 1 and 2)," which details his reaction to Dave Chappelle's unexpected shout-out to Tall Paul onstage at First Avenue
with incisive context of both his and Dave's lives. It's all spit with tightly constructed bars, which could potentially strike either for their intricate phrasing or their powerful content.
GRRRL PRTY - TNGHT EP
It's a rare record that can really translate an artist's live energy, but GRRRL PRTY's excellent TNGHT EP delivers the same punch as Lizzo, Sophia Eris, and La Manchita's stage performances. Lunis and Hudson Mohawke's beats are surefire turn up fodder and GRRRL PRTY attack the animated production with the appropriate level of verbal dexterity and flow gymnastics. Songs like "Higher Ground," a heartfelt tribute to Sophia Eris's family filtered through an anthemic horn-heavy club banger, implore a close listen to the festival-ready fare, but the EP is designed to approximate the punch of a GRRRL PRTY concert. It's a fun and consistent project, one that lends itself to multiple re-listens.
Muja Messiah - God Kissed It, The Devil Missed It
Floating over Mike the Martyr's soulful progressive boom-bap, Muja Messiah once again proves himself among the best in the city, dropping his most cohesive project to date with God Kissed It, The Devil Missed It
. Consistently crafting complex rhyme schemes rapped with slick delivery, every song becomes a series of lines equally clever and provocative that will prompt several rewinds. He tackles politics at the global and the street level, zooming out one moment to call out systemic issues and zooming in the next to include hyper-local references like specific street names. It's a more nuanced approach to well-worn topics like sex, drugs, violence, and money, proving it's still fertile territory if dealt with as distinctively as it is here.
Sweetz P - #liferrrs: Watching Porn With The Headphones Off
Sweetz P dropped one of the hardest mixtapes out of Minnesota in a long while, pushing the local scene of aggressive street-rap forward by tightening the flows and reframing the perspectives. She comes off as unflinchingly brash, braggadocious and unapologetic, but claims a wider range of beat selection and a better sense of hook-writing than most rappers of a similar ilk. She'll complicate rap tropes while still working within their confines, giving the songs far more staying power than your average mixtape.