Before we get to this month’s roundup, congratulations to all the Twin Cities artists booked to play this year’s Soundset.
Not just the usual suspects, but also first-timers like Taylor J, Cashinova, Student 1, and Dua Saleh, who will all play the Atmosphere & Friends stage at the State Fairgrounds on May 26. Soundset tends to bring out attendees from most or even all 50 states, so the festival is a prime opportunity to gain new fans from all over the country and leave them with a stronger sense of what makes Twin Cities rap worth following.
3Shot – “Crazy Story”
Album: Unofficial remix
After joining Lil Durk’s Only the Family Entertainment late last year, Chicago rapper King Von rocketed to viral status with “Crazy Story,” a self-explanatory street hit about an attempted setup. “Crazy Story” has quickly inspired other storytelling-based remixes from various street rappers in the Midwest and beyond, including this one from 3Shot, where the East Side St. Paul newcomer relates a story of his own.
Cashinova – “Caught the Wave”
Album: Big Dragon
Label: Stophouse Music Group
“You just heard about me? Oh, you late/Surf’s up, hoe, you shoulda caught the wave,” raps the reliably fun, hook-happy St. Paul rapper Cashinova here on his latest single. He’s certainly allowed plenty of time for anyone to catch up with him, as he’s worked on his long-awaited first album for Stophouse Music Group for the past couple years. The big moment is almost here—Big Dragon arrives Friday.
Lerado Khalil – “Miss Myself”
St. Paul rapper Lerado Khalil doesn’t like to waste time—his songs tend to run just two minutes or so. His drowsy flow recalls the cultishly beloved Chicago rapper Lucki, but his style’s not overly formulaic or derivative, as Lerado keeps it sounding fresh, especially over the hypnotic and simple loops here.
Lexii Alijai – “Anthony”
At this point, it’s never surprising to hear Lexii Alijai rapping about different facets of relationships. It’s a topic she gravitates toward often, doing so once again, and with as much heartache and honesty as ever, on the regret-filled “Anthony.”
Mac Irv ft. Marliah – “Time Alone”
Label: Pilot Life Entertainment
While Mac Irv may be rapping over a slow, sedate beat here, there’s a lot on his mind as he tries to sort out why it “feels like the world’s crashing down on my shoulders.” There’s a refreshing vulnerability from the Minneapolis artist who claims the mantle of “hometown hero” as he raps “More problems than answers, more debt than credit, more bills than income and they growin’ by the second.”
Nimic Revenue – “Therapy”
Album: Undisputed (various artists compilation)
Label: Def Jam Recordings
The 20-year-old St. Paul native Nimic Revenue is the first Minnesota native to sign with Def Jam as a solo artist, appearing on the new compilation Undisputed. Unsurprisingly, Nimic’s contribution to the compilation, “Therapy,” is another earworm—maybe not quite as catchy as her previous “Sk8Board Flex” or “Happy Gilmore,” but still another offering that ensures Nimic’s upward trajectory.
Prince Riley – “Sirens”
Label: Royal Family Music Group
The young Minneapolis native Prince Riley has a lot of promise, showing a flair for melodic street rap in the vein of Chicago’s ascendant Polo G. This standout from Riley’s project Northside Baby centers on how the sound of ambulance and/or police sirens reach a person’s ears differently depending on how their environment has conditioned them. “I hate hearing them sirens while I’m home/I just hope and pray to God it’s not someone that I know,” Riley raps.
Rich Garvey ft. Radio Ahlee and Vinny Crook$ – “Light It”
Label: Fore-n Trait
Rich Garvey invites fellow Minneapolis MCs Radio Ahlee and Vinny Crook$ into his rotation on this spaced-out, stretched-out collaboration, featuring one verse apiece from each MC over a slow exhale of an Infinity Suite instrumental.
Rz Shahid – “Deuce Sides”
“I don’t got the time to explain to you the way that I’m feelin’,” raps Minneapolis’ Rz Shahid early on “Deuce Sides.” That may be true, but he still digs deep, rapping about topics ranging from racial tension and police brutality to his own trials and tribulations as a person and artist.
Student 1 – “badbabybullshit”
Label: Coines Creations
A booming, dizzying fast-rap sprint where a standout young MPLS rapper practically channels his inner Twista.