5 must-hear Minnesota hip-hop tracks: 1/18/17

Corbin, Metasota, Manchita, and more

There’s a near-constant stream of quality music coming from the Minnesota rap scene, and we’ve taken it upon ourselves to pick a few highlights from the past week in new releases and videos. Here are 5 that are definitely worth your time.

Heiruspecs - “Facecard”

Heiruspecs were nothing less than legends at their place of origin, St. Paul Central, by the time I hit my sophomore year in 2002. That year, their second album Small Steps, a masterwork of live rap, was a shining example of the flourishing underground Twin Cities hip-hop scene. “Facecard” saw release that same year as part of a Midwest Broadcast compilation album, but the track quietly resurfaced on their Soundcloud page this past week. It features rapid-fire bars and beatboxing trade-offs from MCs Felix and Muad’dib (“We’re only gonna do half of it, ‘cause if we do more than that then I’ll die”) that immediately signifies why the twenty-year old five-piece still belongs among the top tier of Minnesota rap music.

deM atlaS- “In The Mud”

“I’m not an alcoholic, it’s just so easy to write about it,” raps deM atlaS, sinking expertly into Dirty Art Club’s intoxicating “Hemlock” for his latest grunge-rap track, “In The Mud.” Switching tonal directions and rhyme schemes with a stumbling looseness, the Rhymesayers rapper lands on a plodding hook with emphatic and bluesy ad-libs that round out the addled vibe. The video staggers between dance sequences among fluorescent grocery aisles to boozy, dimly lit noir scenes that follow the lives of a number of isolated individuals, as deM atlaS spits from a self-described complacent daze about his cyclical lifestyle.

Manchita - “Head Right”

Manchita’s first preview off her upcoming solo debut, “Head Right,” is a stunning detailing of self-reflection dealing with a loved one’s addiction. As the piano-driven beat -- provided by former GRRRL PRTY collaborator Bionik, who produced the entirety of the upcoming album -- provides mutating textures for Manchita’s downtempo turn, the elastic sound steps from outside her “sad bangers” sound into a tempered, emotionally-resonant hush. There’s meticulous attention given to sonic layering and a subtle approach that gives appropriate gravity to the subject matter.

Metasota - It’s Just Rap - The Mixtape

Metasota’s latest mixtape comes off somewhat modest (“[I]f you like rap, you’ll like this,” says the project’s descriptor), despite being an incredible example of the artist’s status as one of the best pure rappers out there. This quick-run collection of tightly executed rap songs is embodied by the effortless cool of the video for “All Luv,” where the singular take goes uninterrupted as blunts, beers, burgers, and haircuts fly his way. A steady balance between a committed, rounded thematic scope and a penchant for brain-rattling bar structures, Metasota pushes his pointed writing across a range of powerful territory throughout this excellent listen.

Spooky Black/Corbin - “destrooy”

It’s unclear if Corbin still goes by his real name, but clarity has never been his strong suit. The last solo efforts we heard from the elusive viral sensation two years ago hinted at a more aggressive direction. His latest, “destrooy,” is a skeletal, ambient distillation of the artist’s most mesmeric inclinations. With a grainy close-up of the insular artist holding a flail seeing as visual, the song has a familiar glacial pacing and hypnotic reverberations, but removes any semblance of groove to focus on crushing emptiness and subsuming drone.

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