With the easy accesibility to microphones, recording equipment and youtube, practically everyone is making some kind of music. This isn’t bound to the state of Minnesota, but recently it’s become a widely talked about topic here. It is tough to weed out the gems from the mediocre especially with new music being released daily. Here are a few albums that very talented artists whom call Minnesota have put out for free that you may have overlooked.
1. PROF – King Gampo
If you haven’t been living under a rock since early 2011, you’ve probably heard this album. But just in case you haven’t it features Rhymesayers staple Brother Ali, MTV’s Riff Raff and production from Ant of Atmosphere.
2. Reeves Junya – Music Is My Girlfriend
With features from Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover), Wiz Khalifa, Tyga, Rocky Diamonds and a slew of other great locals Reeves’ sophomore solo release followed up “Why Isn’t This An Album?” with fury. Download “Music Is My Girlfriend” for free here.
3. Kristoff Krane – fanfaronade
With a “Buy it now” price on his bandcamp you can feel free to pay as you like, or download it free. He recently did an interview with the City Pages Gimme Noise blog about the album. It features Crescent Moon, Sage Francis, Sadistik, Buck 65, Illogic, and more.
4. I Self Devine – LA State of Mind
Though the album is titled LA State of Mind, I Self Devine is a St. Paul, Minnesota native and one of the few well-known emcees from the east side of the river. This free ep was released for free courtesy of Rhymesayers in part as a promotional effort for his amazing album The Sound of Low Class Amerika.
5. KnoX – Martyr Music
6. Freez & Mike Frey/Mike Frey – You Are Here/Burnt Out
These are two people who are extremely underrated in the music scene. I’m really not sure why because Mike Frey is a great producer with beats ranging from funky, low-rider types to beautiful symphony infused jazz and Freez has a way with words and honesty with a powerful tone. “You Are Here” features P.O.S., Mike Mictlan, Mavin MC, Big Zach, Unicus, Alicia Steele and Franz Diego. “Burnt Out” includes features from Greg Greese, Alicia Steele, Just Nine, and a couple more tracks with Freez.
7. Ecid – Swagger Wagon
8. Mike the Martyr & Aquafresh – In Search of the Wonderous Punch
This comes from Minneapolis based label Long D.O.E. producer/emcee Mike the Martyr and California emcee Aquafresh. This album was featured on the Source’s website, which says a lot about it from the get-go. With the production quality and lyrical play they bring it makes sense why they were an obvious choice for the handful of Minnesota based acts at Soundset this year. Download “In Search of the Wonderous Punch” here.
9. O-Lay & Diatonic – Meanwhile
O-Lay & Diatonic are a group I heard about not too long ago, thanks to JK Clothing. What I heard I really enjoyed, and kept listening then they released this and now have a solidified fan. You can expect a lot more from these two in years to come.
10. Homeless – Patience Makes Lighter
The first time I saw Homeless was back in 2010 when he opened for Prof at the Varsity Theater with Just Riley as the group Mnemosyne. I really enjoyed his openness, self-depreciation, and vocabulary. This is an older release but definitely recommended for one of those dark, artsy, rainy days.
11. Botzy/VA – My Friends and I/The Best Love is Free Vol. 3
Botzy, who is the front man/rapper for the Minneapolis group Culture Cry Wolf proves to be an impressive one man act on his solo album “My Friends and I”. Like many other artists on this list Botzy is honest and not afraid to share how he’s feeling. His album features Wesley Opus, 2% Muck, a track with Culture Cry Wolf and many more. The Best Love is Free is an annual event held every year at The Fineline Music Cafe to celebrate love, music, art and all of the wonderful things life has to offer. Every year they bring great live acts out to perform and they also as a bonus, put together a musical compilation of artists with passion. The latest years album features St. Paul Slim/Last Triumph, Astronautalis with Tegan Quin (From Tegan and Sarah), Mayda, Polica, Wize Guyz, Sean Anon, Soulcrate Music, Kristoff Krane, Prof, MaLLy, Culture Cry Wolf and many more.
12. Orikal Uno – +1
This is one of many of Orikals free releases on his bandcamp page, and it was hard to choose which to post. I highly suggest checking out more of his stuff if you enjoy these tracks. Orikal Uno’s +1 album features Sab the Artist (A.K.A. Musab), Mac Lethal, and Prof.
13. Tavonte Woods – Patiently Waitin’
At the young age of 17 Tavonte Woods embodies drive and motivation. He recently performed with KiD InK and is scheduled to perform with Kirko Bangz this summer. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is Minnesota’s “Next Up”. Download “Patiently Waitin’” here.
14. Duenday - Duenday
Duenday represents the sunny-side of hip-hop, with funky beats that force you to tap your toes and nod your head or command you to get up and dance. Their self titled solo album is currently available for free via their bandcamp site and it features Sean Anon, Lipset, Unicus, Manny Phesto, and Big Zach.
There are plenty other great albums out there I myself may have overlooked, if you feel that’s the case leave a suggestion in the comment section.