How cold is Minnesota-cold? At times, it seems beyond description.
When it gets too cold for even Bold North winter warriors to endure and schools are shut down, maybe you need a poet to quantify our chill. And in fact, hip-hop lyrical laureates have repeatedly harnessed their awe of Minnesota’s wintry hell to describe life's extremes. Here are 13 times bars were spent on Minnesota’s ice, snow, and cold.
Lil Yachty ft. Quavo, Skippa Da Flippa, and Young Thug – “Minnesota”
Hearing Young Thug softly yet triumphantly croon “Minnesotaaaauuh” at the end of the anthemic, gratifying Lil Yachty and friends track “Minnesota” was like watching a Minnesotan win every last Olympic gold medal.
Thugger also spits about a busy trap spot, Yachty asks, “Why the fuck you in these streets if you scared of them four walls?,” and the chorus repeats “cold like Minnesota.” A Minnesota winter is the only thing as mean as the meanest block.
Re-Up Gang (Clipse, Pharrell, Ab-Liva, and Sandman) – “What’s Up”
Doomtree – “Final Boss”
Warhol.ss – “Lil Lame”
Hoodie Allen – “Play the Field”
Know what else is mind-bogglingly cold? A jerk. A mean heart is a cold one, and, according to rappers, the coldest heart is Minnesota-cold.
“The heart of a marksman is cold like Minnesota wind,” Pharrell spits on “What’s Up,” his folk-tale flow informed by what awaits those who dare walk outside a skyway in January.
Sims, of the local rap collective Doomtree, knows the wind well and uses the chilling specter to illustrate a state of personal strife on “Final Boss”: “Goddamn it's frozen, my heart is Minnesota.”
Warhol.ss, the Chicago rapper by way of Atlanta, raps about his “heart turning cold like Minnesota in December,” on “Lil Lame.” Hoodie Allen feels the same when his girl says his “heart is cold like Minnesota.”
Talib Kweli – “Come Here”
Offset – “Wild Wild West”
Dave East – “Paper Chasin”
When something is good, it’s cool. When something is great, it’s cold. And when something is the beat, it’s Minnesota-cold. For instance, Talib Kweli lets a lady know on “Come Here” that “your whole style is colder than Minnesota.”
You know what else is cold? Ice. And what looks like ice? Diamonds. “Baguettes in the AP/It's cold like Minnesota,” Offset says of the rectangular-cut diamonds populating his Audemars Piguet watch on “Wild Wild West.” Dave East characterizes the height of real rap success on “Paper Chasin” as a life not just with diamonds but “diamonds colder than Minnesota.”
Chris Brown – “Whippin”
YoungBoy Never Broke Again – “No Smoke (Remix)”
In rap, Minnesota is often reduced to its simplest, most universally understood qualities—cold, ice, extreme cold, deathly cold, white people, lakes, randomness. From a coastal, mainstream, melting-pot perspective, it doesn't get colder, whiter, or more bumblefuck-random than a lake in Minnesota.
So when Lil Yachty raps “wrist like Minnesota” on “Minnesota Remix,” “Minnesota” means ice, and it’s an evocative metaphor to describe wildly expensive jewelry crafted with diamonds so pristine they shimmer like light refracted through the purest row of icicles clinging to the lip of a Minnesota cabin.
“Wrist cold, Minnesota,” Chris Brown similarly sing-raps on “Whippin.’” YoungBoy Never Broke Again spits the same bar on “No Smoke (Remix).”
Detroit rapper Obie Trice, on “Richard,” makes clear his outfit is “all white” like it's “right up in the Dakotas, or Minnesota.”
The snow-cocaine connection has to be right round the lyrical corner.
DJ Khaled ft. Akon, T.I., Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Birdman and Fat Joe – “We Takin’ Over”
Young Bleed ft. Master P and C-Loc – “How Ya Do Dat”
Cam’ron – “Get It in Ohio”
Rappers like to showcase their commitment—to their music, say, or to selling drugs—and a great way of doing so is traveling a great distance, and to extreme places. It's the “I’ve been everywhere” Johnny Cash move.
In that legendary song, Cash crosses the places he’s been off his list as he rambles, but he only names the state of Minnesota—not Minneapolis or St. Paul or Duluth or Faribault or wherever. Minnesota is just one general, frigidly out-of-the-way rando spot, and going there shows gritty cred.
Spitting vaguely about both rap and drugs, Atlanta’s T.I. said he brings that work all over, from down to Miami “on up to Minnesota where it storm in the winter.” T.I.’s coming anyway.
Master P let it be known he gets down with the get down no matter where or how they do it there on Young Bleed’s “How Ya Do Dat”—“Minnesota to Michigan nigga, we don't care”—getting the respect of any neighborhood’s hardest and being The Man at any party on any boulevard. Rolling around with the New Orleans king at the peak of his No Limit reign in 1997 is a chillingly awesome vision that's almost hard to believe, like when a meteorologist says “27 below.”
“What up Midwest? They forgot about the fourth coast,” raps Cam’ron on “Get It in Ohio.” Killa doesn’t neglect us, but he lumps us together with other states in a way that might make a proud Minnesotan shudder: “What up Arkansas, Minnesota, Kansas?”
Now that's cold.