class=img_thumbleft>Truthmaze (a.k.a. Truth Maze, a.k.a. B Fresh, a.k.a. IBM) has one of the longest-running careers in Minneapolis hip-hop. He beatboxed with the groundbreaking I.R.M. Crew in the mid-'80s, rapped with the Micranots in the early '90s, and has since played percussion or performed spoken-word with a number of bands (read more about him here , here , and here , or check out his pages at myspace and mnartists.org ). Dubbed "the Afrika Bambaataa of Minneapolis," Truthmaze is one of the few MCs who could credibly rap, "North Side full-throttle/Mister Influence, I taught Aristotle," as he spits on his new, long-awaited solo debut, Expansions + Contractions (Psoems 1:1) (Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records). The album is a true event, combining the full range of his past live music and electro into a carnival of poetry, hard funk, and raw rap, with guests ranging from multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Ylvisaker to fellow ex-Micranot I Self Devine. I caught up with Truthmaze via cell phone in England.
CTG: What are you up to there?
Truthmaze: I'm outside of Leeds, exchanging and sharing with young poets here. I've done three performances so far, mostly [songs] from the album, with DJ Fundamentalist from Hecatomb. I went to the illest dub party. It was dub and drum-n-bass, and I got to meet LTJ Bukem's brother, King Chris. I'm recording down here with him and his partner.
CTG: A lot of old fans will be surprised to hear you as a real soul singer on this new album.
Truthmaze: Man, I can't sing. I'm just finding what feels really good and learning how to hold that as a note.
CTG: Is this your first straight-up rap music since 1993's Hoods Pack the Jam [the Micranots cassette]?
Truthmaze: I guess you could say that. But in certain circles, you could still hear me freestyling like it ain't nothing.
CTG: Since you moved to Atlanta and back in the mid-'90s, you've been kind of out of the spotlight. What have you been doing?
Truthmaze: Trying to keep my fucking sanity. I'm being real honest with you. I mean, the best way I can put it is, I've been doing a lot of different things because all these different genres is just a part of me. I decided a long time ago that I'm not going to be stuck with making what people want to call hip-hop.
CTG: Last question: Where and when were you born?
Truthmaze: I was born in Hennepin County Hospital, my brother. I don't want my birthday in there. Just put a question mark for my age. Either a question mark or an infinity symbol or a dolphin or something.
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