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5 must-hear Minnesota hip-hop tracks: 5/24/17

This week: Kristoff Krane, Bionik, Drelli, 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.

This week: Drelli, Kristoff Krane, Velvet Negroni, Knowledge, and Bionik.

Drelli feat. Allan Kingdom and Finding Novyon - “White T”

Drelli’s affinity for beats that sound like video game bonus levels finds him flexing over a beat by New Orleans’ producer Lukrative. With like-minded rappers Allan Kingdom and Finding Novyon on board, the song details stealing your girl, rocking diamonds, and airbrushed T-shirts. They sink perfectly into the glimmering, bubbly beat. Drelli totally owns the fun, carefree bounce that’s anchored by smooth and confident styling.

Kristoff Krane feat. Lady Midnight - “Shine On”

Kristoff Krane’s upcoming album, Kairos, is an epic 22 track double-album out July 11. The first glimpse features Lady Midnight's vocal textures, and an unorthodox but captivating beat. Kristoff uses his trademark heady, intricate bars to rap briskly about DMT, overcoming fear, and preparing for the future. Produced entirely by experimental composer and drummer Graham O’Brien, Kairos stands to be among Kristoff’s best works.

Velvet Negroni - “Levels” / “DARENOLEOPARD

With a tilt toward hazy, drugged-out R&B, vocalist Jeremy Nutzman (whose résumé includes working with Pony Bwoy, Marijuana Deathsquads, and rapping under the name Spyder Baybie Raw Dog) has undergone another metamorphosis. His ever-evolving sound begins a new chapter as Velvet Negroni. With producer 1990, he finds a post-Weeknd vibe that includes a flow slow as molasses and lyrics distinctly surreal and sinuous. “Levels” is a track about peaking and losing weekends. On “DARENOLEOPARD” he strips away the sound even further and embraces the auto-tuned reverberation. Velvet Negroni finds a voice like a tempered Busdriver aiming for the pop charts, a slurring Drake off opiates, or, more appropriately, an amorous post-bender Spyder Baybie Raw Dog.

Knowledge - “Traumatized”

Knowledge does not shy away from the specifics of the struggles he’s seen, detailing experiences with death, prison time, suicide, betrayal, and depression over a 7-minute hookless track. Unafraid to talk very explicitly about a number of personal situations, Knowledge has written a stunningly real track, a harrowing listen that lucidly expresses pain and grief in as straight-forward language as possible. Every line is a punch to the gut, spit with gravity and a reflective tone that showcases rap’s incredible potential for honesty and unflinching realism.

Bionik and Lazerbeak - Pool Boys - High Dive EP

Local beatmaking polymaths Lazerbeak and Bionik join forces for “High Dive,” the vibrant first single off their debut Pool Boys EP, a collaborative instrumental album that highlights the wavy middle ground of their many points of influence. The smooth, buoyant sounds pull from a wide spectrum of genres and styles, and is perfectly timed to the upcoming season of hard chilling. Before a June 6 release (which comes with a soundpack of over 300 original sounds), the duo debuted their live set his past weekend during Art-A-Whirl.

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