5 must-hear Minnesota hip-hop tracks: 2/15/17

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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.

GYM - Low Noise Vol. 1

Bouncing between Las Vegas and Minneapolis, GYM made an impact on the local scene with last year's video for "Breakdown." His latest 5-track project pushes even further. GYM's appropiately titled Low Noise Vol. 1 is a slow-paced, syrupy R&B project that draws on ambient electronic production and heavily reverberated vocals. The dirty-minded lyrics sink into the beats to add a dark texture and enigmatic charm. It's a quick but affecting listen that hints at the prospect of future projects.

Muja Messiah - "MCRNM"/ "PyrExpeditioN"

"For ten years straight I've been showing ya'll how to rap," Muja Messiah casually states over Tek's crawling beat on "MCRNM." Beyond his imagery, references, and subject matter, one of Muja's greatest strengths is his relaxed flow: "MCRNM" is a nonchalant gauntlet thrown, aiming at those who can't rhyme. The song opens with a sample about the era before rap was monetized to truly signify the difference. He also recently dropped the single "PyrExpeditioN" (also produced by Tek, a preview of an upcoming full length effort), a work-whipping anthem that plays like a boom-bap Clipse with trap drums and a solid hook.

Neon Blaque - Exo~Tropica

The debut from producer Infinity Suite and Zeus James, as group Neon Blaque, aims for the vibe of summer and succeeds. This breezy, low-key lounge hip-hop feels weirdly appropriate for our unseasonably warm February. James' voice can recall the smooth boisterousness of Grand Puba at times, and it doesn't hurt that Infinity's beats evoke the slickness of Native Tongues-era production. The succinct song lengths satisfy, but if you're left wanting more, they've released an excellent B-Sides record along with it.

Mayyadda - eightynine

Mayyadda combines an acoustic vibe with a soulful style with her latest project, the bright and uplifting eightynine. It primarily leans towards relaxed pop, driven by Mayyadda's subtly powerful voice and guitar work, but some of the standout tracks like "Mars" and "Black Girl Magic" incorporate produced elements that play like hybridized contemporary R&B.

Tha Rift - "Sauce Wave"

M&A Production's visual for Tha Rift's "Sauce Wave" matches MJ Nichols' menacing beat, cloaking the rapper in red smoke and dim lights as he's surrounded by cars and armed women. Using his elastic voice to give every bar a low-key hooky feel, Tha Rift proves both his songwriting talent and his knack for affecting videos with a single stroke.

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