Sunday, October 31, 2010

Voter Guides

Hey.  So if you're voting on Tuesday, but you haven't really been following the races or whatever, there's a site that posts user-made voter guides.  You can find an organization or entity that you trust and see who they're endorsing.  Whatever state you live in, there's a guide (probably multiple guides).

Here's the link:

The site was set up by the League of Young Voters, a very cool organization.

My only obligatory "get out the vote" pitch is this.  Voting isn't the only way to create change.  It may not even be the most effective.  But it is the easiest.  There really is no excuse; I've come around to the idea that important tactical and short-term gains really CAN be created through the ballot box.  I still believe that we all need to get involved in progressive organizations that work on important causes all year-round, no matter who is in office, but I ALSO believe that voting really is as important as everyone always says it is.  So don't just vote; get everyone you know to vote-- family, friends, co-workers, whatever.  Organize your social circle.  There's going to be a lot of close elections this year; let's be ready.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tour Update

So far, we've been to Milwaukee, Madison and Chicago-- five shows down.  It's been great.  Milwaukee is one of my favorite places to visit-- so many beautiful, genuine people there.  And Madison is my second home, so that was fun too.  I'm writing this from Chicago, where we've played two shows and have one more to go (Sunday at the Green Mill, ground zero of poetry slam culture).  It's fun.

I'm touring with Inky, who is a good poet and also a vegan, which means I get to eat at places I wouldn't otherwise.  Total blessing in disguise.  I had some Chicago deep-dish last night while she was out, but I actually didn't enjoy it as much as the black bean burger, mashed potatoes and vegan shake I had at the Chicago Diner the other day.  Maybe she's on to something.

All in all, this tour has been great for making me rethink certain strategies.  As much as I enjoy rapping, spoken-word shows are really special for me-- more of an attentive audience, more room to be creative, less drama, more profitable... This might be the future.  I'll take a smaller crowd who is actually interested in what you have to say over a big crowd who just wants to drink, flirt and nod their heads any day.  I know that's a false binary, but still.

Mostly, I just wanted to post that picture Inky shot in Madison.  It's a sad bear.  Go Packers.

P2C fallout: new Twin Cities hip hop acts you should look out for

Since Picked to Click didn't feature any hip hop acts, and the Twin Cities has one of the strongest hip hop scenes in the nation, I figured I'd highlight some of the newer artists that have potential.  As with P2C, it can be hard to define "new," but I'll give it a shot:

The Tribe & Big Cats!
A Chicago transplant (Truth Be Told) backed by some of the most epic, radio-ready production the Twin Cities has ever heard, this group has dropped a great EP and a very entertaining mixtape, and their debut, "Forward Thinkers Movers Shakers," is slated for January.  It'll feature Abstract Rude, Phil da Agony, Toki Wright and more.

Also a member of the Usual Suspects, I.B.E. is just a beast on many levels-- smart, technically proficient and a good songwriter.  Check out his video for the song "Make the Road by Walking" featuring Toki Wright. 

Heidi Barton Stink
One of my favorite new artists, Heidi is unabashedly political and also a very strong songwriter.   She also picks some unique, engaging production to rap over.  There aren't a whole lot of artists repping for the trans and queer communities, but Heidi should be one to watch over the next few years.

Audio Perm
A three-person production collective, Audio Perm is responsible for some of the best beats that all these younger TC acts are using.  The Ants and Lazerbeaks and Medium Zachs of our scene have a very worthy heir.

Culture Cry Wolf
In a scene that values brooding, angry, dark hip hop (I know I do), a band like CCW can be pretty refreshing.  They've got a strong singer on top of their MC, make great use of horns and put on one of the best live shows in town.

Fresh Squeeze
Radical politics and party music.  That'll get me every time.  These three kids also have the most energy of any hip hop act in town.  A very exciting act to watch.

Wide Eyes
Good old fashioned underground rap.  Nothing revolutionary, but this group's energy, charisma and pure rhyming talent is infectious.  Great beats too.

Mally, Mike Dreams, Lipset, Just Wulf, Max Haben, Bobby Richardson, D'Allen White, Irenic, Lazlo Supreme, Mnemosyne and more I'm forgetting
There's a whole crop of really solid MCs and hip hop acts coming up; I can't write about all of them.  But you can hear many of them on the same track here.  While time can only tell which ones will break out from the pack, they're all very talented.

I'm excited to see all these acts reach out and do new things-- that's really what the TC scene is traditionally about; being fearless and unique and different.  I don't see that happening as much with this newer crop of artists yet, but it'll be very fun to watch that develop.

And that's not even to mention the "not-quite-new-but-new-to-a-lot-of-people" artists like No Bird Sing, Junkyard Empire, Kristoff Krane, Kill the Vultures, M.anifest, See More Perspective, Chantz, Ill 3, Ill Chemistry, Usual Suspects, Maria Isa and (of course) Guante/Guante & Big Cats! who are all making some really great, original, creative music.

Again, I'm sure I'm forgetting some great ones, but the bigger point is that it's a beautiful time to enjoy hip hop in the Twin Cities.  Go see some shows.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Going on tour: Milwaukee, Madison, Chicago, Indianapolis, La Crosse

Me and Inky are going on a quick midwest spoken-word tour.  Here are the dates:

10/14: Still Waters at Sweet Black Coffee in Milwaukee, 8pm
10/15: Voltage! at Milwaukee Public Library, 6pm
10/16: Genna’s Lounge in Madison, 7pm
10/18: Mental Graffiti at the Butterfly Social Club in Chicago, 8pm
10/19: Young Chicago Authors workshop and feature, 6pm
10/22: Root Note in La Crosse, 8pm
10/23: Indianapolis, details TBA
10/24: Green Mill in Chicago, 7pm

For addresses and more info, check out my full performance calendar here.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Bricks and Bones Tour, Rally to Defend Public Education, Halloween, more!

What a week.  Facilitated a workshop on race and music at Inver Hills college, visited a bunch of schools promoting The Canvas, slam team showcase at McNally Smith and the "Don't Be Nice" mixtape release party at Hell's Kitchen.  Even more exciting stuff coming up this month:

The next show I'm performing at is a rally/concert to defend public education on October 7.  6pm in Loring Park in Minneapolis.  The Usual Suspects, Junkyard Empire, Fresh Squeeze and Poetic Assassins are also performing.  It'll be a great show, but it'll also be a great opportunity to get involved in this very important struggle.  Check out PJAM.ORG for more information!

After that, I'll be going on a short midwest tour, the Bricks and Bones Tour.  We haven't made the official announcement yet, so look out for that soon.  In short, it's a spoken-word tour through Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago, La Crosse and elsewhere, with multiple shows in the Mil and Chi.  I'll be on the road with Inky, who runs MN Mic.  Again, more info soon.

Finally, I'll be finishing up the month with a monster show Halloween eve at Hell's Kitchen.  It's the debut of Strange Perspective, a collaboration between See More Perspective and Dameun Strange, two of the most creative, wonderful people I know.  Costume contest, fortune telling, burlesque, sideshow oddities and more, plus sets from me and the always-amazing Mayda.  Definitely a can't-miss kind of show.