I know some people read these kinds of lists and scoff or whatever, but New Year's is not a time for humility; it's a time for honest reflection. And if you're awesome, it's hard to be humble about things, haha. Of course I had a lot of help and support from my label, friends, co-workers and collaborators, but I'll admit: I'm halfway awesome. So here are some things I did this year:
An Unwelcome Guest" w/ producer Big Cats!, one of the most ambitious, original, quotable, poetic hip hop albums to ever come out of the Midwest (biased, but stop me if I'm lying). Don't take my word for it, read the press quotes... or better yet, listen to it.
Don't Be Nice") w/ Big Cats! (all original beats, even though it's a mixtape) that proved that we not only do what we do well, but we do what other hip hop acts do well too, probably better. Also designed the cover, which I think is really cool.
Canvas, a teen arts center in St. Paul, into one of the most dynamic, high-quality after-school programs in the area. Aside from coordinating a lot of the programs there, I personally facilitated a weekly writing circle, an MC workshop and a couple of different social justice-oriented workshops, hosted numerous events and built a lot of relationships.
~Played in multiple cities in the Midwest (often multiple times)-- St. Louis, Des Moines, Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, La Crosse, Brainerd, Stockholm and more I'm probably forgetting.
~Played dozens of shows here in the Twin Cities too, from Kristoff Krane's CD release party to opening up for Dead Prez at Voices Merging's hip hop conference to debuting a snippet of my one-man spoken-word show at the Bedlam to playing numerous progressive events from the Defend Public Education rally to the IWW's Fall Feast to much more. Not a lot of rappers can say that they got booked to perform at the CONvergence sci-fi conference, the Dragon Festival, the Twin Cities hip hop awards, the Loft Literary Center and the Uptown Pride Fest all in the same year.
~Also hosted some big events, something I'd like to do more of in 2011. This year, hosted the big No Bird Sing/LookBook/Kill the Vultures show at the Cedar, the Twin Cities Spoken-Word Sampler at Honey, Kristoff Krane's other CD release show at the Cedar and more.
~Continued the successful Hip Hop Against Homophobia concert series; the last one featured Mike Mictlan from Doomtree, Heidi Barton Stink and Kaoz and was held at the Canvas. The next one will be a two-day joint in June at Patrick's Cabaret.
a very flattering City Pages feature.
~Got one of my poems featured in The Progressive.
~My label, Tru Ruts, secured national distribution.
~Laid a ton of groundwork for the MN Activist Project, a database and promotional campaign aimed at getting more people involved in progressive organizing. Not public yet, but look for a launch in the springtime.
~Completed writing/performance residencies or single workshops in a dozen schools in the Twin Cities and beyond, on top of visiting almost every St. Paul high school and talking to students as part of my Canvas duties and mentoring a young poet one-on-one. Even got to go to my own high school and talk about spoken-word to students who had never heard of it. Hopefully I can get famous once all these kids turn 21, haha.
~Performed on 89.3 The Current's Local Show:
~Freelanced for Reviler, one of my favorite local music blogs, on top of providing all kinds of original content right here and on my Twitter.
~Facilitated workshops on topics from writing and performance to privilege and oppression to how to write a bio and more at the Giant Steps conference, the Minnesota OUT Campus Conference, the St. Paul Youth Commission's Youth Summit, the Vices to Verses Conference (where I also got to sit on a panel about hip hop and feminism) and elsewhere.
~Performed live in-studio on Radio K with Big Cats!.
~Wrapped up the first/second draft of a book of essays and creative nonfiction that I might go get published. Weighing options right now.
~Released a music video that I'm proud of:
Guante + Big Cats! - A Hug From a Stranger from Tru Ruts on Vimeo.
~On top of the two aforementioned albums, recorded some of the best music of my career; you haven't heard it yet. But soon.
So again, big thanks to all the people who have been around this year, supporting the work that I do. You're only as good as the community that surrounds you. It's been a great year (not even getting into my personal life, haha), but it's still really just groundwork time for me. Looking at the long-term plan right now, and things are good. Lots of big stuff planned for 2011. Stay tuned. Let's build.