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5 Twin Cities hip-hop and R&B artists to watch this summer

Fiery rap bars, velvety vocals and experimental mixing and production.
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This summer has already proven to be a heater, so we got you covered with some fresh Minnesota-based sounds.

Here are five local acts set to take off in 2017. These artists are adding versatility to the local music scene by serving fiery rap bars, velvety vocals and experimental mixing and production.

We highly recommend following these fiery local artists on SoundCloud.

Kaleem the Dream

South St. Paul spitter Kaleem the Dream recently put his own spin on J. Cole's "Immortal." Within the cover track he switches up his flow, riding the beat as he rhymes about working hard to bring his vision to life.

Kaleem also put his bars to the test last month when he participated in the Sway in the Morning cypher during Soundset weekend. Although he was nearly last in line to perform, he didn't let that slow his flow where he thoughtfully called himself a trailblazer like Damian Lillard and called out the Trump administration in his freestyle.

Politics and sports references appear in many other of Kaleem's verses. He recently supplied a guest verse to St. Paul Slim's "Riot Remix" and its matching visual, which follows several local performers and cameos coming together as one. The chorus of the song includes lyrics like, "Let's get together forever, no longer are we divided/And don't you ever let the system make you keep it quiet." And in Kaleem's lines, he spreads awareness about and takes a stand against the daily discrimination people of his skin color.

In "Prime Time," Kaleem the Dream opens up by rapping about the boss moves he's making like LeBron James. In the icy visual produced by Young Vision Films, Kaleem cleverly says "Eenie, meenie, Imma need some more, I'm never satisfied/Pretty penny I'm gonna stack my dough and get my family right"


St. Paul singer-songwriter Moise's SoundCloud uploads may not be frequent, but his plays are nothing short of consistent.

He test-ran his latest drop, "Wildflower," during an intimate performance at Urban Outfitters in Uptown early this year. The Miguel-esque song paints a picture-perfect daydream of swooping his special someone in a Cadillac and never turning back.

Moise categorizes "Wildflower" as #rocknroll, but when you spend enough time on his music page it is clear to hear his sound fits in more than one category. His oldest upload, "Hold On," has downtempo R&B sound where he softly sings "So quit playing and tell me what you’re waiting on/If you here baby I’ll write you a song." His most-played track is an acoustic and atmospheric cover of "Waves" by Mr. Probz, which has over 224,000 plays.

A common thread in many of songs are breezy guitar vibes and delicate depictions of being in love. A full-length project carrying his alternative blend of rock and R&B is expected.


Minneapolis-based G.R.A.C.E.LAND raps over beats that are perfect to blare with your windows down. His uploads consistently feature repetitive, upbeat sounds paired with creative lines and local references.

His recent tracks include two standout lines dedicated to a couple up-and-coming national rappers. In "No Moe" he raps, "Balling so hard that I'm posting like Malone" and in "Float Without A Boat" he spits, "Take a picture like Kodak, say cheese." But under the wordplay in his latest drop, "Float Like a Boat," he gets personal about is hope to rise above the fakes and snakes without a handout, as the hook goes "Maybe I could float without a boat."

Other notable tracks include G.R.A.C.E.LAND's freestyle of "Uber Everywhere," where the young emcee boasts of pride in his hair, fresh outfit and solo lifestyle over the explosive K. Swisha beat. Then, in the opening lines of his tenacious track "Victim," he adds local flavor. Over a Topper Atwood production, he raps, "You can find me right off Dale Street, yeah that's where I stay, right by that Green Line yeah that's where I lay."

DJ Babyghost

Instead of studying for her first-year college courses, DJ Babyghost learned how to mix and used any remaining free time to attend shows and take notes on other DJs. Soon enough, the bookings started rolling in. This recently included a set in the mix of the local lineup at the Cabooze's recent Buckfest, and a set to support EDM duo Bonnie X Clyde at Barfly tonight is in order.

The range of events she plays at draws back to the genres of music she listens to, including rap, techno and metal. Particularly, she plays a lot of house and hip-hop music live and is sure to include tracks by local artists in her mixes. "I love seeing people dance to music made in their own city," she explained.

Beyond promoting local artists in a live setting, DJ Babyghost uses her pulse on the up-and-coming homegrown acts to spread new music via social media too. Specifically, every few months she puts together a SoundCloud playlist featuring Minnesotan artists. Any given playlist on her page includes a range of tracks, like alternative hip-hop songs by artists like Allan Kingdom and Gaines, rap tracks by emcees like Juice Lord and Rich Garvey, and electronic sounds from producers like Travis Gorman and Shrimpnose.


KAS uses two SoundCloud pages to constantly experiment with his craft and self-produced beats, and the South Minneapolis resident's sound is summer-ready.

Many of his tracks can be characterized by a swingy, sing-rap style backed by electronic beats. Last summer, he spread sunny vibes through"Fiji," where raps about drinking his Fiji water, visualizing a summer in Maui, and leading a life rich in money and fame. His new summer anthem invokes another beverage best served when chilled, "Arizona." In "Arizona" KAS illustrates a nonchalant summer fling over a smooth, guitar-infused beat.

His freshest release was uploaded to his personal SoundCloud page where KAS primarily sells his beats. Buried in the mix of electronic beats there are some gems highlighting his vocal range like "Nostalgia." "Nostalgia" samples "Self Control" by Frank Ocean, and KAS uses the song to recall memories made during warmer months and feelings of affection. KAS even retraces specific moments as he softly sings lines like, "eating pad thai with a bad thing on the south side."

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