You'll see plenty of familiar names in this month's rap roundup, as established Twin Cities hip-hop artists push their music forward, taking chances and developing their styles.
Lexii Alijai -- “Miss Jackson”
Album: Growing Pains
St. Paul’s Lexii Alijai may still be maturing as an artist, but when you listen to her music she already seems fully formed. Conceptually and technically, “Miss Jackson” is a highlight off her new album, Growing Pains, which is easily one of the most impressive releases from a Minnesota artist this year. She plays around with the premise of the deathless Outkast single of the same name, addressing and apologizing to the mother of a boyfriend.
FreeWifi -- “Hi Bich”
Album: Unofficial remix
Every song I’ve heard from Bhad Bhabie, aka the “Cash Me Ousside” girl, is absolutely grating, but at least Ronny J’s massively propulsive beat for her single “Hi Bich” bangs harder than fuck. On FreeWifi’s remix, some legit MPLS talent takes on the track, and each member of this trio -- J. Plaza, Danny Dinero, and Tha Rift -- comes out with guns blazing.
Greg Grease -- “So What”
Album: Down So Long
Label: Sound Verite Records
Throughout Greg Grease’s excellent new album, Down So Long, the Minneapolis MC and ZuluZuluu member grapples with questions about his place and purpose as a rapper; he wants to be honest and rap about his real-life ups and downs, but he also knows people listen to music for escape. “So What” (which was actually the working title for the album) perfectly encapsulates that conflict. “Ain’t nobody tryna hear that shit,” Greg goes during the chorus – and yet, this is a song with plenty of replay value.
Lucien Parker -- “Own Thing”
Album: Chapter VI: Metamorphosis
The last song on Minneapolis MC Lucien Parker’s new EP, Chapter VI: Metamorphosis, is the only song on the consistently melodic record that can really be considered a rap song, and even here, Parker fluidly transitions between rapping and singing. But however you want to categorize it, this is a fun, neon jam.
Shredders -- “Flipping Cars”
Album: Dangerous Jumps
Label: Doomtree Records
“Flipping Cars” is the latest single from the Doomtree offshoot Shredders’ upcoming debut album, Dangerous Jumps, out November 3. On the mic, over Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger‘s frenzied beat, the whirlwind duo of rappers P.O.S and Sims are once again a dizzying combo with smart and funny bars. Shout out to P.O.S for the hilarious reference to Prodigy’s “Keep It Thoro.”
Tarxan -- “We Ball”
Album: Unofficial remix
There’s a serious, almost angry tone to Tarxan’s remix of Meek Mill and Young Thug’s “We Ball,” as the St. Paul street rapper pointedly reflects on friends he’s lost to death and prison. MinnesotaColdTv’s video for the remix is equally reflective, showing Tarxan returning to the site where his collaborators King Savage and Boss Sleep filmed their notorious “Computers” video.
Taylor J -- “Feelings”
Label: Scenious Entertainment
Taylor J is still somewhat within the cycle of his debut album, June’s Who Would’ve Thought, but the relentless St. Paul rapper and singer is simultaneously readying his second EP with super-producer Lex Luger, The 91 Family Pt. 2. “Feelings,” which will presumably appear on the project, stands out from other Taylor/Lex collabs for the fluidity and effortlessness of Taylor’s rapping. Meanwhile, Lex’s beat is an airy, subtle trap production.
Tek, Muja Messiah and Metasota -- “Hullabaloo”
Here, three frequent collaborators prove why they complement each other so well, bringing the ruckus on top of Metasota’s shadowy and cinematic beat. The trio will be performing tonight at a special Friday the 13th costume party at the Nomad.
Vo -- “Let Me Be Great”
Following a string of remixes that have all racked up thousands upon thousands of YouTube views, St. Paul’s Vo links with producer and fellow STP native Smokey Visions for this original single. Vo raps with focused urgency during his verses, and the hook (“Let me be great/ I know that they hate/ I know that they snakes...”) sets the song up as a potential anthem.
Why Khaliq -- “My Jam”
Album: The Mustard Seed
Label: Six5 Records
Like all of his music, which typically feels patiently developed and urgent at the same time, Why Khaliq’s “My Jam” sounds positively organic. This kinetic single off the St. Paul rapper’s upcoming album, The Mustard Seed, sounds like a potential breakthrough, with a vibrant bounce to it that reminds me of Vic Mensa’s “Down on My Luck.” The Mustard Seed arrives later this month.