Hmong rapper Tou Saiko Lee was recently profiled on the New York Times Magazine site in a mini-documentary about his art and his work with the community. The video provides a glimpse into Lee's personal life and shows him performing at Malina's Sports Bar in St. Paul.
One of the most intriguing parts of the video shows Lee collaborating with his grandmother, Youa Chang, on a project he calls "Fresh Traditions." The two take turns reciting their own style of spoken word, with Lee rapping and Chang chanting kwv txhiaj, an ancient style of Hmong poetry.
In addition to performing as a spoken word artist in rap group Delicious Venom, Lee is a regular contributor on KFAI's CHAT Radio: Hmong Arts & Culture and volunteers as a mentor at several local after-school programs.
(If your up for feeling outraged today, see also the Jason Lewis broadcast from May 2, in which he berates the Lake Junior High School PTA for allowing Lee to lead a workshop on spoken word and hip-hop. According to Lewis, the parents should be reprimanded for allowing taxpayer money to be used to teach such outrageous things as poetry and -- gasp! -- diversity at school.)
In other local-via-national news, Cloud Cult have been featured in several large-scale outlets since the release of last month's Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes), including a feature a "breaking artist" mention in Rolling Stone and this recent spotlight from the Wall Street Journal:
The Wall Street Journal also ran a full article about Cloud Cult's unique live show, focusing on lead singer Craig Minowa's wife Connie, whose live paintings have recently sold for as much as $2,500.