A sampling of the best rising hip-hop stars in the Twin Cities, featuring (in order of appearance) Culture Cry Wolf, MaLLy, and a dj set from DJ Fundo.
Free Vitamin Water!
Being invited to play Soundset can act as a barometer of who in the local rap scene is really pushing themselves and their craft forward. Each year a few up-and-coming artists get the chance to rock the same stage as certified legends, and MaLLy not only got the opportunity to play the festival in 2011, he also witnessed Slug wearing one of his T-shirts during Atmosphere's closing performance. "There's only a few things I could see ever making me cry, but looking at it and just watching it happen, I almost cried," MaLLy recalls. "It was the highest level of respect I've ever seen from any artist, especially one that's from here of his accolades and his stature...He didn't have to do that, you know what I mean?"
The co-sign led to a Slug cameo in MaLLy's video for "Heir Time" and a notably higher profile. He chalks it up to good timing and being well prepared for the opportunity. MaLLy has been steadily dropping albums since 2007's The Letter (when he went by MaLLy from the 612), but teaming up with like-minded producer the Sundance Kid in 2010 for the ongoing "Free on the 15th" series helped catapult the young MC both musically and business-wise. "A big piece of it, too, was presentation and ease of access," says MaLLy, citing his improved takes on self-promotion. He recalls being told he was looked at to perform at Soundset in 2010 but was ultimately passed over. "I'm glad they didn't pick me in 2010; I can't even lie. Who knows if I would've capitalized on the moment as much as I did in 2011? I don't think I would have felt as prepared. I didn't really feel like I had a huge amount of momentum."
After a number of high-profile shows, including opening for Grieves and Budo and Guilty Simpson, it's evident his momentum has been steadily increasing. "I definitely have taken the mistakes I learned from my last record and decided to do what I have to do to make myself stand out, in addition to just having good music. I want all avenues, from a business standpoint, to be sharp and on-point." With a slick design sense (also provided by the Sundance Kid), he associated each month's new free download with imagery, such as depictions of Muhammad Ali and Bruce Lee, that visually sum up the track's confident energy and powerful tone. Along with the new sounds came a new philosophy, which MaLLy calls "HEIRrogance"; the term speaks to his humble confidence and yearning for success, all while maintaining a level of genuine humanity. As he prepares for the release of his next album, The Last Great, MaLLy intends to continue to "ride the wave" and push himself even further.
CULTURE CRY WOLF
Minneapolis based Culture Cry Wolf have steadily built a following with their eclectic and infectious live show. While most live-band hip-hop acts center on funk or jazz as their sonic roots, Culture Cry Wolf are all over the map, pulling in everything from cumbia to doo-wop to ska and punk. Botzy's raps and Mike Daly's crooning keep the varied vibe centered, matching the raucous trumpet, guitars, and percussion with upbeat tales of drunken revelry and torrid love affairs. In concert, the six-piece band whips up a wholly unique energy that is hard to define and harder to resist.
Culture Cry Wolf has played countless sold out shows, been nominated as "The Twin Cities Best Band" two years in a row, and shared the stage with the likes of Macklemore, Cecil Otter, Mac Lethal, Sims, Mr. Dibbs, and Soulcrate Music.
Most bands adopt musical styles out of an attempt to preempt the next wave of short-term musical revisionism, and then there are the bands that would be making that kind of noise whether it was fashionable or not; Culture Cry Wolf is firmly among the latter.
Party rocker DJ Fundo is part of the Get Cryphy crew. Stophouse is his label, and in addition to other work, he DJ's for local rapper Prof.