7 Questions in Heaven with Illab

7 Questions Illab

I first met Illab (government name Jake Stone)  in 2007. I was living with four other people in a complete shithole apartment in the Marcy Park neighborhood during my sophomore year of college. We threw parties three nights a week and let people ash their cigarettes wherever because it didn’t matter/fuck the man/19 year olds are disgusting excuses for human beings. Anyways, two of the people I shared rent with were high school friends of Illab’s. Many a cold winter night we found ourselves drunk off of Karkov and kitchen dancing to the musical stylings of Britney Spears’ “Blackout”. It was fuckin’ magical.

I still remember standing in the kitchen and talking to Illab about what I think was his first ever EP The Ramen Cookbook. My first thought was “that title makes me hungry, what’s 4 dinner” and my second thought was “that’s really cool he makes music”. Years later, Illab has still been stomping ground at rap battles and on his own releases Spare Change and It’s All Been Said Beforethe latter of which was produced by Dimitry Killstorm, who’s album Whittier Alliance with Hapduzn was a huge hit in 2013. Illab’s latest album, Good Life, Life’s Good, Worth Living is coming out this year, so I decided I better ask him some fun questions before he gets so famous that Kanye offers to watch his cute ass dog while he’s on a world tour.

1. How long have you been spittin’ mad game and sonically blowin’ up minds?

First of all the way you word these questions amazing. I started rapping when I was 15. It started with just dumb freestyles, and evolved into recording. I actually still record with the first person I ever worked with, my friend Tim Rodine. We recorded on a five dollar mic, and a program my friend stole from a juvenile work house. Over the years we’ve built quite the studio. I also came up in the wake of 8 Mile.  My friends still text me to this day when they are watching it. For the record I think Eminem lost to Lotto in the 2nd round.  At that time everywhere I would go people wanted to battle. I just happened to be better at it than most of them.
Without getting too off topic I feel I had a very “traditional” introduction to hip hop.  Nowadays I feel it’s straight to making videos, and recording which is also making the younger generation more talented, they have access to a lot more outlets.  These kids coming out are  so damn polished. This will make me feel old but back then it was more [about] who could freestyle, and we would shut whole house parties up while battling.
Long story short, [it’s been] a little over ten years. I’ve only been decent for the past 3 years. Kind of got sidetracked.

2. If a rainforest animal could describe the spirit of your music, which animal would it be and why?

I think 90 percent of rappers would be like “I’m a tiger yo,” then do one of those cute lil rapper noises that makes them appear tough. I’m going to have to go with a Howler Monkey.  They are known for their deep calls that they do. I’ve been told that my voice is my strongest attribute musically. I would agree with that. Some people will say I’m dope, some will say average,  some may even say I’m weak. One thing thats for sure is you can definitely tell it’s me on a song by my voice. My spirit animal is a Howler monkey. Repping it.

ILLAB OF THA JUNGLE

3. You have a new album coming out. Take us on a short stroll through the album.

I do have a album coming out. Fun fact: I actually finished this album a year and a half ago. Then I moved my friend out to LA. We had lunch on the Santa Monica pier where I saw Lenny Hoops, a street corner performer who seemed to be scaring the tourists. But damn, dude was putting his soul into it.  No audience, just belting original songs about random topics. Here I was acting bitter about music; it wasn’t fun anymore. I made the decision to scrap my whole album at that moment. Music needs to be something I enjoy otherwise I have no business rapping.  Started over [and] Good Life, Life’s Good, Worth Living came from that. In my opinion it’s my best work by far. It’s a taste of projects to come. I got a lot of my friends on the album so that makes me happy.

4. If  you were struck by lightning, what song would you want playing during the ambulance ride?

MGMT-Electric Feel.

First off when something bad happens I try to make light of it. I wanted to keep it modern, otherwise it would be that one song where they chant “it’s electric”. I dig this song alot though. Good vibes, flashing lights, drugs, and surrounded by strangers.  Sounds like plenty of parties I’ve been to.

5. Your dog is so fucking cute. Do you have any plans to sample his bark? If not, can we collab on a song where we sample dog barks and become the coolest people alive?

Can I start this out by saying my dog is the shit. I love that dude, my whole day is planned around making sure he is good. Up until our recent twitter conversation I had no plans to sample his bark. I definitely want to be one of the coolest people on earth. If sampling his bark and doing a song with you will make that happen, let’s run game.  We could even ask Existing Trend to get in the mix with his dogs as well. The sky’s the limit really.

dog

6. We met because you used to party at my house in 2007 when all I played was Britney’s “Blackout” album. Who is your favorite female pop star and why?

And for the rest of my life I will always associate Britney and iPod boomboxes with you. I’d give anything to live one of those weekends again. So much fun. Right now I’m really digging Lana Del Rey. That’s probably the cool thing to say, but I love her voice and her slight hint of sarcasm in the songs she writes. If I have to pick from the elite female pop singers it would be Beyonce or Rihanna. They are both amazing performers. It says something about a artist when you can feel their energy through a tv screen. Locally my favorite pop group is yours, DENNIS. Over the years I feel like I’ve watched you find your identity when it comes to music, and it will be fun to watch where it takes you. (editor’s note: thank u and BRB blushing 4 ever)

7. Who is your greatest non-musical inspiration to your art and why?

I can’t pick one so all of my friends and family. By far. I consider myself very fortunate to be surrounded by these people in my life. My siblings all have beautiful familes, I have a wide variety of friends that come from all walks of life. I’ve watched people battle cancer, poverty, troubled childhoods, and still smile. They are a bunch of goddamn soldiers to be honest. Most of these people have no clue how amazing they are. 90 percent of what I write is inspired by them in some way, shape or form. I strive to mirror the company that I keep when speaking about being a good human.

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7 Questions in Heaven with Christopher Michael Jensen

7 Questions CMJ

Meet Christopher Michael Jensen, a Twin Cities rapper here to tell you about his favorite three male-named actor, his musical evolution and the grossest thing that’s ever happened to him on a stage.

1. Why did you start making music?

I started really getting into hip hop when I was 13 back in 2000 around the time Napster first came out and my 17-year-old brother was playing a lot of hip hop around me. He was kind of doing some silly rap stuff with his friends, and then I just kind of started writing silly rap stuff, too, just for fun, I guess. Then my brother installed this music program on our family’s computer called ACID that his friend had where you could make beats with pre-existing loop packages. Once I started messing around with that, I started recording songs with our home computer mic. I rapped in front of people for the first time live when I was in 8th grade at my brother’s SnoDaze high school talent show with him and his friends. I just sort of stuck with it, and after a couple years started taking it more seriously. I made a handful of homemade albums. This whole time, too, I just kept digging more and more into hip hop with my brother, buying and downloading all of the classic albums, exploring the underground, going to shows, and learning about the history of the culture. I just became obsessed with it more and more as time went on, so it only made sense that that would become my main thing. It allowed me to express anything I wanted to, so that was really big for me. It seemed like you could do anything with the sound of the music and beats, too, which felt really freeing and exciting to me. The possibilities with hip hop I thought were limitless.

2. If you could be any other three male named celebrity (Johnathan Taylor Thomas, Neil Patrick Harris, etc.), who would it be and why?

Hmmm. I actually Googled three-named male celebrities because I couldn’t think of a lot off the top of my head. Then I came across James Earl Jones and Billy Dee Williams. Star Wars is probably my favorite movie series of all time, so it seems only fitting that I should probably be one of them. Lando Calrissian’s cool, but Darth Vader is sort of the most epic villain of all time, so maybe James Earl Jones. On the other hand, Lando ended up being the one responsible for destroying the second Death Star, which in turn saved most of the main iconic characters from getting blown up on Endor’s second moon, so I would be a pretty big hero in the mythology of Star Wars if I was Billy Dee Williams. Then again, Vader killed Emperor Palpatine, which ended the Galactic Empire, so maybe that was a bigger deal. Alright, James Earl Jones. Yeah, let’s go with him.

james earl jones

3. Describe the music scene where you live.

There’s constantly something going on in the music scene in the Twin Cities. If you want to, you can almost always go to a show somewhere every night of the week. The amount of rappers and artists here is ridiculous, too. It’s crazy, because I just happened to be from the same city that has such a rich hip hop history and is really, really renowned all over the country, and even the world, for it’s great hip hop. Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Eyedea, Doomtree, and others really blazed a trail for independent hip hop, and so now this town is sort of a mecca for it. What’s interesting is I think a lot of people who do rap in the scene kind of got into hip hop because of discovering sort of this “alternative” hip hop that Minneapolis is so known for kind of putting on the map, but I was already rapping before I even knew who Atmosphere and Rhymesayers were, so I already had it in my mind that I wanted to be a rapper. Where I was geographically was just lucky. I worked on music and performed at like talent shows and school events throughout high school, but it wasn’t until I graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2009 that I was really like “okay, now I can focus all of my attention on really getting out there in the actual scene and doing music full time.” By that point, I was 22 so I knew I had to start busting my ass to make as many connections as possible and really figure out what networking and doing shows in the scene was all about. The first few people I met in the local scene I learned a lot from in terms of kind of how a show is put together, how promotion works, etc. I used to go to a lot of open mics, too. Once I sort of got plugged in a little bit, I spent as much time trying to put all the pieces together. At the end of the summer of 2011 is when I really fell in with a group of people that were extremely passionate about just living hip hop 24/7, hanging out and freestyling, partying with other artists, going to shows together, and it was that family dynamic I found in the music scene that literally changed my whole life. The community in this scene, or at least pockets of it, are really like a family. I’ve seen some ugliness in the scene, too, but any negative experiences I have come across are far outweighed by the tremendous energy that exists in the Twin Cities hip hop scene to just have fun, connect, and make amazing things happen – there’s truly nothing like it. Virtually all of my friends these days are in this community and that has made a tremendous difference in my day to day life. Not to sound pretentious, but I actually have a hard time explaining it to people who are on the outside and don’t live in this world. It’s very, very unique. Hip hop and just music and art in general are like the core of what bind us all together, so we all share that common factor. It’s beautiful.

4. Who is the one artist dead or alive you would want to feature on a track?

eminem

There’s a lot of people I love and admire in not just hip hop, but all genres of music. But if I had to pick just one, it would probably be Eminem because he’s my favorite emcee of all time, starting way back from when I first started rapping. I spent years scouring the Internet to literally get MP3’s of every song he ever made or did a guest appearance on, and there’s a LOT of those. I dissected his lyricism and rhymes more than any other rapper growing up, and that’s saying something since I pride myself on the expansiveness of my music library. He is a master rap technician with just an unbelievable ability with words, rhyme patterns, and flows. Plus there’s just so many angles of him as an artist that I love: the darkness, the sense of humor, the ability to make songs with so many different kinds of emotions, the anger, the weirdness…I just adore Eminem. For him to leave the kind of mark he has on hip hop and culture in general is something that I really aspire to do myself in my own way.

5. I know as an artist your favorite song probably changes a lot. But if you had to pick, which of your songs is your favorite right in this moment and why?

We’re talking about my own songs, right? Probably “Tie-Dye Sky.” That’s the one that’s gotten the most attention from people it seems like, and the one that’s been the most visible. That track has a really interesting beat produced by Megan Hamilton that speeds up as it progresses, and then sort of slows down again later, and that’s actually pretty uncommon for a rap song to change tempo like that, so it’s unique in that way. Lyrically, I was able to do a lot of cool things with it in terms of flows and rhyming, and it covers a lot of different feelings and emotions, so it sort of encapsulates a bunch of things about me and my life. It also has a chorus I really like where I get to sing, which is something I like to do a lot in my music in addition to just rapping all the time. I know a lot of people who have been really moved and inspired by that track and its message, too, so that’s really touching to me. I couldn’t be prouder of that whole song honestly, and the video I made for it with Elliot Malcolm blew me away when I first saw the final cut of it. Very dear to me, indeed.

6. What is one common theme throughout your lyrical content?

Trying to find happiness in life when faced with so much depression and feelings of loneliness. Being your own person and really trying to follow your dreams and making them a reality despite the odds and not settling for less than that. That’s something that’s been in my raps pretty much since the beginning, mainly because I try to infuse my own feelings and life experiences into my music a lot of the time, and that’s something I’ve had to wrestle with internally for years and years.

7. What’s the grossest thing that’s ever happened during a live show?

I can’t think of anything TOO gross, but you know what’s just gross in general? Tonsil rocks. You know, those white particles that form in the back of your throat that sometimes you cough up? If you smear them they have like THE most putrid smell, too. There’s been a few times where I’ve been rapping during shows and I get kind of dehydrated and those things get spit up in my mouth and it’s nasty. So there you go. 🙂

7 Questions in Heaven with Phillip Morris

In heaven, there is Phillip Morris times 5. You better behave.
In heaven, there is Phillip Morris times 5. You better behave.

I met Phillip Morris at a sick ass Halloween party in Northeast a couple weeks ago. He was in charge of the cups, very polite and dressed as Dartanian from the 3 Musketeers. I was a little bummed because I thought his gigantic wig was his real hair (hey, it was a great look). Later in the evening, we were sitting by the fire and started talking about music and shit. I had recognized his name from my friend in Seyah and their CD release show a year and a half ago at the Entry (local famous musico babez Lizzo and Sophia Eris performed at that show well). However, I don’t think I got to see Phillip Morris that night because he was on his way back from Chicago and got to the show extra late, or I was being a total bum and had to be in bed by midnight. WHATEVER OK.

Anyways, the night partied on beautifully, twitter handles were exchanged, and the rest my good internet pals is this: Phillip Morris and Wide Eyes (which consists of Minneapolis artists/producers Sean Anonymous, Tony Phantom, DJ NAME and Dimitry Killstorm) have banded together to collaborate on an album released last week titled “The Sick and the Dead“. It is awesome and really cool. Download it below, throw these talents a few bones, and settle in all cozy-like with an awesome interview below from your new favorite rapper, Mr. Phillip Morris.

1) How long have you been making music? Why did you start making music?

I originally started writing short stories in 4th or 5th grade, as my defense mechanism. I was getting picked on and bullied pretty frequently since i was really short and uber nerdy. That ended up resulting in me starting to make music approximately 15 years ago. After I ate LSD for the first time, i decided that I wanted to seriously make music for a living. I was NOT a good rapper then, but that was the turning point where i decided to take it much more seriously and start practicing a lot more. It took me about 6 more years to finally get to a point where I was comfortable performing in front of Chicago crowds.
Phillip Morris. Foto de Facebook
Phillip Morris. Foto de Facebook

2) You just released an album with Wide Eyes called “The Sick and the Dead“. What inspired this album?

First of all I have a lot of love and respect for Wide Eyes. Not only are they some stand up dudes, but they are definitely responsible for me becoming popular in Minneapolis. I was living in Chicago when i met them, the first big Mpls show I did was at their video release party for Borrowed Time, and after that show the momentum just kept going. So yeah, one day my younger whiter twin brother by the name of Sean Anonymous approached me with the idea of doing a collaborative project together and I was like YUP YUP HOME SKILLET THAT’S A STELLAR IDEA and then we began working on it. The official release party is 11/15 at Triple Rock (West Bank in Minneapolis).
Sean Anonymous and Phillip Morris lookin' all rad as hell and shit.
Sean Anonymous and Phillip Morris lookin’ all rad as hell and shit.

3) Lady Gaga is going to be the first artist to perform a song in space in 2015. Which planet would you most like to perform on, and why?

I would most like to perform on Uranus because then when girls would ask me when’s my next show I could be like “Hey there girl…thanks for asking! I’m currently touring across Uranus.” and they might just mistakenly think i was talking about touring their bootyhole. (Okay that was a bit juvenile, but it made me giggle) Yup. Uranus all day. But okay, the real reeeeal reason is that it’s the only planet named after a Greek God (as the rest are named after Roman gods) and I am a huge mythology buff but i prefer Greek over Roman. (Sidenote: I have won 1st place in 3 separate citywide mythology competitions in Chicago. Mythology nerd. Yup. Okay, I’m done)
Look! It's Phillip Morris touring Uranus.
Phillip Morris touring Uranus, 2017.

4) Describe your new album in 3 words.

Fastidious Metaphor Jamboree?

5) If you were taking your soulmate on a date to a live show, which Minneapolis artist would you see perform and why?

Hmmmmmm, that’s a really hard question. So much talent in this city. I’d have to say though, out of all the live shows I’ve seen from Minneapolis the one that might have blown my mind the most was Carnage The Executioner when he headlined the Rogue Citizen Art Opening back in October. It might have honestly been one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen in my life. The energy was phenomenal. So yeah, I’d have to say him (but I’d ask him in advance if he was willing to give my soulmate a shoutout in beatbox format, so that’d make me look a little cooler)
Carnage the Executioner's City Pages cover.
Carnage the Executioner’s City Pages cover.

6) What’s your favorite line from your new album?

“I know that there’s no containing the craziness baby, maybe it’s the shiniest of thoughts on the stormiest days…maybe it’s heinously redundant explaining the story…maybe it’s a Delorean painted a glorious shade of Dorian Gray”

7) Who is your dream collaboration, dead or alive?

I’d have to say…I’d either like to collaborate with Saul Williams or Corey Feldman, but I have a very difficult time deciding which one. Can I pick both? On the same track? Please? 😉
Your wish is my free online photo editor's command.
Your wish is my free online photo editor’s command.

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Music MPLS: Lizzo is tearin’ shit up on her new album “LIZZOBANGERS”

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Have you heard of Lizzo yet? HAVE YOU?! She’s everywhere in the Minneapolis music scene. For real. Last year she was girl-groupin’ it with The Chalice, a 3-piece girl group comprised of staples in the Mpls music scene: Ms. Lizzo, Sophia Eris, Claire de Lune. This year, she’s been busy with another girl group called GRRRL PRTY (Lizzo, Manchita and Sophia Eris) and her own solo release radly titled LIZZOBANGERS (which, by the way, I believe was titled waaaaay before Miley Cyrus swooped in with her Bangerz album BUT WHATEVS MILEY. WHAT-EVZ).

Anyways, LIZZOBANGERS was released this week out of local Minneapolis cool kid record label Totally Gross National Product. The album was produced by Lazerbeak (Doomtree) with creative guidance by Ryan Olson (Poliça). If you listen to the Current or Radio K, you’ve probably heard her first single “Batches and Cookies” (featuring Sophia Eris) allllll ova the airwaves. It’s a hip ass song for two reasons: sick beat and WHO THE FUCK DOESN’T LOVE COOKIES. Maybe we’re entering into a new trend in the Minneapolis music scene. After all, Caroline Smith sings about lemons in her latest single “Magazine.” Perhaps as a metro area, we really connect and identify with songs featuring foodstuffs. I know I do.

SO. If you’re into hip hop, kool chicks and mpls tunes, LIZZOBANGERS is the album 4 U. There are 13 tracks and there’s a song called “Bus Passes and Happy Meals” which is basically my new Wednesday afternoon anthem on the 16. Pick it up on iTunes RIGHT HERE BABIES.

lizzo-bangers-300x297

Music: Caroline Smith’s new vid for “Magazine” is SUPER FUN

GOD DAMN I LOVE THIS SONG. Minneapolis wundergal Caroline Smith is gearing up to release her latest album titled “Half About Being a Woman.” And it’s gonna be killer. Like, this chick is blowin’ up killer. Because if you haven’t heard of her yet, holy shit. She’s about to blow your world. She has a show on the 27th of Sept. at First Avenue in MPLS, otherwise I’m sure she’ll be on tour in a city near you soon. You’ll wanna see it.

The first time I saw her live was 8 years ago when we were all in college, at the 400 bar. She had hand written CDs and gave me one fo’ free cuz I was cash poor/my friend was dating her friend. My favorite song from that (I think) first little album was “Clench My Teeth.” Very folky, very pretty. I am so proud of her, not only because she’s fucking awesome but also because she’s an awesome part of the music scene in the good ol’ MSP. AND I’m also excited to see where her career goes from here, because I have a feeling its gonna be amazing!!

Def check out her new album when its out, which is I believe Sept. 27. YAY!!!!!

caroline smith

Listen: GRRRL PRTY “Wegula” is HOTTT

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Sophia Eris, Manchita and Lizzo from GRRRL PRTY Image via Facebook

This is the most bumpin’ tune I’ve heard come out of Minneapolis in a while! Can this be a summer jam on the radio stations? LOVE IT. Lizzo, Sophia Eris and Manchita, who are all local musico phenoms who constantly work on a BUNCH of different projects, comprise this new group amazingly titled GRRRL PRTY (vowels are SO last season). Their debut release is a single titled “Wegula”. I’m taking a stab in the dark and guessing ‘wegula” is a lil wordplay on people in bars/parking lots/literally anywhere trying to act superior or simply being a rude dude by claiming a “regular” status. If not, then they’ve added a word to the English language and we should be awaiting Webster Dictionary official status any day now.

Their video above is part of a series called “Lights and a Backdrop” (check out season 1 and season 2) ingeniously crafted by a production company called Evil Ice Cream Pictures. It’s a really cool series that has local musicians perform their tracks in front of-WHAT!- lights and a backdrop. It’s simple and a great way to showcase and spread the word about local talent. Cuz there’s a shit ton of local talent in MPLS/STP. Seriously. Everyone is in a band. It’s amazing.

In case you didn’t know, girl groups are fuckin IN in the MPLS scene. Lizzo and Sophia are also in an R&B girl trio called The Chalice with Claire de Lune. They’ve had a bunch of buzz and success this year. More power to the ladies. It’s refreshing! Plus girl groups were due for a pop culture resurgence anyways. There’s just something about a bunch of women tellin’ it like it is that gets everyone excited. Strong talent, strong opinions, strong style. FUCK. YEAH.

 

 

Fashion: Morality Crisis album release show was HOTTTTT

The Morality Crisis album release show (with Enabler, Nerves, Hardcore Crayons and SVOBODA) for their latest release “Boats” at the Triple Rock last night was AWESOME. Drum sticks were movin’ like that pencil trick from 4th grade and the energy was VIBRANT AS A MUTHAFUCK. Not only is Morality Crisis one of the KOOLEST bands in Minneapolis, but they have some fuckin’ STYLIN fans. Everyone looked rad as fuck. I can’t remember half the names because we got TURNT UP, most of the shoes are cut out bc I don’t know what I’m doing and the pics are blurry, late night iphone snaps. BUT FUCK IT, CUZ Y’ALL ARE HOT. Here are some of my fave looks from the nite.

Andrew
Andrew
I was really drunk when I talked to her. SWEET LOOK CUTE MYSTERY GIRL
I was really drunk when I talked to her. SWEET LOOK CUTE MYSTERY GIRL

 

Tess
Tess

 

Kool Dude
Kool Dude
Luann + Shelby
Luann + Shelby
Nick + Wyatt
Nick + Wyatt
Sarah wearing a color! Hooray!
Sarah wearing a color! Hooray!
Christ, muthafuckin' drummer of Morality Crisis
Christ, muthafuckin’ drummer of Morality Crisis
David + Rachel
David + Rachel
PAIGE (!!!)
PAIGE (!!!)
studded vests are IN. also too drunk to get his name
studded vests are IN. also too drunk to get his name

 

Mike
Mike
Kyle
Kyle

 

Jimi is the coolest
Jimi is the coolest
HALEYYYY
HALEYYYY
Kate's backside was all the rage in the ladies bathroom
Kate’s backside was all the rage in the ladies bathroom
amazing earrings!!!! again too drunk to get the name
amazing earrings GF / again too drunk to get the name
ANOTHER STYLIN DUDE
ANOTHER STYLIN DUDE
DENIM BABY
DENIM BABY