Twin Cities hip hop

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Minneapolis hip hop is hip hop or rap music that originates from the Minneapolis metropolitan area in the U.S. state of Minnesota.



Hip hop culture in the Twin Cities can be traced as far back as 1981.[1]:xvi, xxxv Similar to the development of hip hop in the South Bronx, Twin Cities rap started as humble parties with a DJ and an emcee.[1]. A DJ named Travitron was considered the "godfather" of hip hop in the Twin Cities,[1]:xi and began hosting Hip Hop Shop, on 89.9 KMOJ, the first hip hop radio station in the Twin Cities.[1]:xxxvi

Freddy Fresh used to mix on Travitron's Hip Hop Shop 89.9FM KMOJ. Street DJs included Bill Blass from AVLN, Cuttin Cal from IRM. Shows took place at house parties on the North Side of Minneapolis, and Club Hip Hop on Selby Avenue in Saint Paul. Other artists and DJs include Disco T, Polaris aka tha North $tar, Verb X, Brother Jules, Derrick Delite Stevens aka Skat Kat, Madskills aka DJ Cyrus, and Truth Maze.

The first real album to come out of the Twin Cities was called The I.R.M. Crew, released in 1985.[citation needed] Graffiti and b-boy crews existed in the city. However the first verifiable rap record to be released in Minnesota was Twin City rap a 12" single on TwinTown Records released in 1985. It was produced and performed by David TC Ellis and released by the Twin City Rappers.

The Jukebox and Sugarfree team made notable contributions. Having grown up in North Minneapolis, they began participating in talent shows and freestyle battles in 1983. Sugarfree is featured on Sue Anne's "Rock Steady" Blue Velvet Album (Blue Velvet, Rock Steady, Sue Anne (1986)).


Twin Cities hip hop is characterized best by the alternative hip hop, underground hip hop, conscious hip hop, popularized by Atmosphere. Another style category includes Midwest hip hop, heavily influenced by the Chicago mainstream and underground. The content of music speaks about, political, economic, and social issues. The beats use influences from jazz, soul and classic rock. Many rap songs from the Twin Cities speak on social and political issues, and also involve personal stories. More recently[when?], in the post-2000 years, the Midwest universal sound, including heavy Chicago underground and mainstream influences have arisen in the young hip hop movement in the Twin Cities, embracing the sounds of soul sampling and epic drum kits, as made by popular by producers such as Kanye West, No I.D and the Heatmakerz.

Twin Cities Celebration of Hip Hop Festival[edit]

(Now Defunct) The annual Twin Cities Celebration of Hip-Hop, also known as The Hip Hop Fest, was cofounded by Larry Lucio, Jr. and Toki Wright of Amplified Life in 2002. It is hosted by YO! The Movement the event featured performances from National headlining artists and local acts, The Hip Hop Fest includes Battles in the following Categories: MC Battle, DJ Battle, B-Boy/B-Girl Battle, Beatbox Battle, and Production Battle.[citation needed]

In the first five years alone, nearly 20,000 people from around the world had taken part in the festival and conference.[citation needed] Past participants include Slick Rick, MC Lyte, Cee-Lo Green of Gnarls Barkley, Clipse, Camp Lo, Crazy Legs, Slug of Atmosphere, Studio The Kid, Jean Grae, Asia-One, Orikal Uno, EWOK (HM Crew), Brother Ali, I.L.I.C.I.T. and many others.

Headline performers:

Hip Hop Harambee[edit]

Hip Hop Harambee (2012-2013) founded in 2012 by local artist Manny Phesto and journalist Jake Heinitz, was a day long hip hop block party held outside of Nomad World Pub in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis.[2]


The well known Minneapolis venue First Avenue has been a typical location for major performances of Twin Cities hip hop. Other common places for shows around the cities include Honey Lounge, Nomad World Pub, Tripple Rock, Blue Nile, Myth and the Fine Line. The Dinkytowner was a common place for smaller shows until its closing in 2009.[3]

Fifth Element was home to Last of the Record Buyer's showcase, which provided a platform for producers to show their skills.[4]

Graffiti can be found throughout the twin cities, sanctioned and not. One popular place for writers to write legally was known as the Bomb Shelter.[5]

Hope Community is home to Graffiti and hip hop production classes, many active artists in the community have passed through its doors.[6][7]

Intermedia Arts is a nonprofit in Uptown Minneapolis who allow public art and offer workshops/programs/ grant opportunities for artists in the cities.[8]


  • KCMP 89.3 (The Current) - Home of Rhymesayer's H2 Radio[9] as well as The Local Show[10] which plays some popular local hip hop
  • KFAI 90.3/106.7 FM - Hosts Soul Tools Radio every Saturday hosted by local Hip Hop artists Toki Wright.[11]
  • KMOJ 89.9 FM - Home of popular show "Rush it or Flush it"[12] where artists submit music to be voted on by the audience
  • KUOM 770 AM (Radio K) - University of Minnesota College Radio. They feature a "Track of the Day" from local artists.[13]
  • WMCN 91.7 FM - Macalester College Radio - weekly hip hop radio shows featuring live performances and interviews with many local artists.

See also[edit]