Strange Perspective: ‘nobody sleeps tonight’

“A lot of incredible and horrifying things happen every day all around the world. So much change, catastrophe, epiphany, joy…and despite the lull of the daily trudge, people do feel it. We dream of it, daydream about it or just stay up at night, wondering why we can’t get to sleep. Maybe we get depressed and don’t know why, maybe we misplace our frustrations…Something’s wrong. Conversely, something electric is in the air. Excitement, wonder, nervous energy. There is opportunity; indeed, there is also despair. What will I focus on? how will I channel my feelings around it? How can I face tomorrow? How the hell am I going to get to sleep?”
– See More Perspective

The latest from SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE’s collaboration with Dameun Strange, as Strange Perspective, doesn’t necessarily answer these questions, but swims in them, as we often do when disaster strikes or we feel the rift of some unknown revelation uncoil beneath the surface. This is electronic, bass heavy, jungle style hip hop. It’s hard and kinetic. It’s also smooth, melodic and catchy. The concept lives in every snare, high hat, rhythm and cadence. It’s frenetic and courses the listeners ears for answers, hope, a little peace and finds the people who give a damn.

Written and performed by Strange Perspective
recorded by and engineered by SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE
at Luv ‘n’ Dedication studio, Minneapolis

Advertisements

Free Music: ‘No Capes’ from Guante + Big Cats!

For one week only, download “NO CAPES” by Guante & Big Cats! for free.  One of the standout tracks from the duo’s 2010 concept album, “An Unwelcome Guest,” the song takes a critical look at the mythology of the hero; can we look to one person– whether a superhero or an elected official– to save us, or are there real heroes in our midst?  This free download, courtesy of rising indie label Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records, is dedicated to those fighting for their basic rights in Wisconsin, as well as to those who will continue to fight tomorrow, wherever they are needed.

“NO CAPES” is also a prelude to Guante’s upcoming mixtape, “CONSCIOUS IS NOT ENOUGH 2011,” a collection of brand new songs, remixes and updated tracks based around the power of community and the importance of organizing.  Featuring Guante’s trademark blend of progressive lyrics, poetic storytelling and gallows humor, the full mixtape will be released in March.

E.G. Bailey nominated for the Independent Music Award

E.G. Bailey’s ‘American Afrikan’ album nominated
for the Independent Music Award’s Eclectic Album category

Congratulations to E.G. Bailey on his nomination. Presented by the Music Resource Group, with judges including Tom Waits, Seal, Suzanne Vega, Adam Duritz, Gavin Rossdale, Aimee Mann, Andraé Crouch, Toots Hibbert, Vijay Iyer, McCoy Tyner, AAnthony DeCurtis (Rolling Stone), Kathleen Brennan, Pete Wentz, Bettye LaVette, Ozzy Osbourne, Arturo Sandoval, Martin Atkins, Andrew W. K., Shelby Lynne, Kevin Lyman (Warped Tour), Bill Bragin (Lincoln Center), Pat McGuire (Filter Magazine), the Independent Music Awards is an international program that honors top-ranked independent artists and releases. This year, E.G. Bailey’s critically acclaimed and genre-hopping spoken word opus, have been nominated for Eclectic Album category. More information about the Independent Music Awards is located at www.independentmusicawards.com. Fans can also vote here – http://bit.ly/h7M58z. You can listen to the album at Tru Ruts’ Bandcamp page.

Known for celebrating artists that follow their own muse, The 10th IMA Nominees are an eclectic mix of rising stars including Strawfoot (Alt. Country Song), Hemoptysis (Metal/Hardcore Song), and Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three (Amerciana Album) and established talent including telecaster virtuoso, Jim Campilongo (Instrumental Album), experimental multi-genre artist, Flying Lotus (Music Video and Dance/Electronica Song), and indie rockers, Ra Ra Riot (Pop/Rock Album). Perhaps better known as major label acts, this year’s Nominees strutting their independence include former Hole bassist, Melissa Auf der Maur (Indie/Alt./Hard Rock Album), and songwriting legend Jackson Browne with David Lindley (Live Performance Album).

Winners will be determined by a panel of 62 influential artist and industry judges and will be announced in mid-March 2011. Music fans have until July 11 to cast their votes at The IMA Vox Pop Jukebox to determine the fan-selected IMA Winners. Past winners and nominees include: And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, Cursive, fun., The Flatlanders, Spinerrette, Holly GoLightly & The Brokeoffs, Vienna Teng, The So So Glos, Cephas & Wiggins, The Matches, All That Remains, The Cliks, Oran Etkin, State Radio, Lee “Scratch Perry, The Very Best, Tim Easton, Marco Benevento, Kes The Band, Jamie Lidell, Lacuna Coil, The Trews, Joan As Police Woman; Koko Taylor, Miguel Migs; Speech, God Forbid, Lionel Louekee; Jeff Healey, Johnny Dowd, Chris Whitley, Ike Turner, The Apples in stereo, Mary Gauthier, Jennifer Nettles (Sugarland), The Mooney Suzuki, and Denque Fever among many others.

“He makes language live!” – Amiri Baraka

“There is so much history, culture, and experience packed into American Afrikan that to summarize would be to attempt to summarize all of African American experience.” – Jon Behm (Reviler)

“A powerful testament of bailey’s skill of mobilizing poetry for contemplation, remembrance, and a subtle, but no less insistent, call to action.” –Justin Schell

“No matter how long it takes for bailey to drop ‘da proverbial bomb’, it will have been well worth the wait.” – Dwight Hobbes

With co-signs from Umar Bin Hassan of the Last Poets and the legendary Amiri Baraka, Twin Cities spoken word artist, poet, musician, organizer and educator, e.g. bailey, presents his first full-length album, AMERICAN AFRIKAN, a spoken word concept album that begins in Africa, crosses the Middle Passage, explores America and ends up somewhere that defies easy definition.

Part musical theater piece, part audio chapbook and part performance art experiment, AMERICAN AFRIKAN mixes the beat-influenced poetry of bailey with music that blends hip hop, funk, jazz, electronica and more, creating a sound that is at once progressive and challenging yet smooth and listenable.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that an hour-long spoken word album wouldn’t be much fun to listen to; many aren’t. But as Umar Bin Hassan says in the album’s liner notes, “The sounds on this album are just as important as the words.” Through bailey’s voice, through the Igbo nuns on ‘Oracles of Equiano’, through Aimee Bryant’s rendition of ‘Motherless Child’ and through the album’s diverse sonic palette, AMERICAN AFRIKAN succeeds not just as a piece of literature or poetry, but as a cohesive musical journey.

The project features contributions from Katrah-Quey, hipgnosis, Ben Durrant, Mankwe Ndosi, Ibe Kaba,  Sankaradjeki, Assaad Lakkis + Abstrakt Collision, Aimee Bryant, DJ Limbs, Idris Goodwin, M.anifest, Starskie, DJ Stage One, Sha Cage, Walter ‘Q-Bear’ Banks, Jerry Stearns, Simon Husbands, Andy Shaffer, Karin Odell, Elliot Looney, Uche, Matt Wood, Julian Murray and others.

Sha Cage stars in ‘Agnes Under the Big Top’

Sha Cage starring in ‘Agnes Under the Big Top, a tall tale’
A National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere
written & directed by Aditi Brennan Kapil
featuring Virginia Burke, Nick Demeris, Ankit Dogra,
Nathaniel Fuller and Linda Kelsey

Mixed Blood Theatre
February 18 – March 6, 2011
Wednesdays – Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.
Sundays at 3:00 p.m.

You will want to see this funny and powerful new work! It’s the story of immigrants in America today, and how their lives intersect under the figurative Big Top. A city subway station is the central point for all the action. A Liberian home care worker, an itinerant busker, a Bulgarian ringmaster and his wife, along with an Indian call center escapee, discover and redefine themselves through the telling of this magical fable. For more information, you can link to Mixed Blood Theatre.

e.g. bailey + Sha Cage produce Liberian radio documentary

New Beginnings: The Story of  Liberians in Minnesota

For some time now, Minnesota has been a refuge for immigrant communities displaced from their homes due to a variety of circumstances. One of these communities is the Liberian community, which grew rapidly in the aftermath of a series of civil wars that ravished their country. However the story of Liberians in Minnesota does not begin with these civil wars but stretches back more than 50 years.

In this radio documentary, we look at this history, along with the growth and development of the community. In a series of conversations with a wide-range of Liberians in Minnesota including Wynfred Russell, Abdullai Kiatamba, Piso Tarr, Yeamah Brewer, Mameneh George, Charles Dennis and others, in addition to other prominent figures in the community including State Representative Keith Ellison, professor of history Peter Rachleff and theatre director Wendy Knox, this programs provides an overview of where the Liberian community in Minnesota stands today, the contributions it has made to the state and what the future holds.

The documentary is produced by Liberian-American artist e.g. bailey, and his partner Sha Cage. The three-part documentary will air on KFAI Fresh Air Radio (90.3fm Minneapolis/106.7fm St. Paul) on February 16th, 21st and 23rd at 7:30pm. It can also be streamed online at wwww.kfai.org.

New Music: ‘Quiet Love’ from See More Perspective + Nye

Happy Valentines Day, as only the Boombox Emporium could wish for you. The latest installment of the Emporium is yet another preview of great things to come. After peppering his debut solo album with beats from his brother, Nye, See More Perspective is preparing to bring that partnership to the foreground with the funky, hilarious and solid album, SEX TAPE––a mash up of sexuality, humor and hip hop. Producer Nye brings back boom bap with a vengeance through rugged, dynamic textures and bizarre vocal samples in the tradition of Handsome Boy Modeling School and Dr. Octogon. See More’s flows are as rhythmic, sharp and thoughtful as ever while juggling sexual overtones, romantic impulses, laugh out loud rhymes and socio-political commentary. The uniqueness of the project lies in its celebration of sexuality without using it for shock value. The humor of the the weird 70s porn samples is used to disarm the listener while interjecting potent points of view on love, sex, relationships and politics in the flow of fun-loving hip hop. ‘Quiet Love’ is the first step forward in this new collaboration between See More Perspective + Nye.

New Music from WAKE THE CITY (Guante + See More Perspective)

‘Shotgun Soliloquy (Ragga Remix)’ gives you yet another peek into WAKE THE CITY, the budding musical collaboration between Guante and SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE. This “premix” of sorts is a remix of a track that has yet to be released. That’s just how we get down at the Boombox Emporium. The Rube’s simultaneously throwback and forward-thinking production suits the rappers’ boombap tendencies perfectly. Expect to hear more funky concoctions from these three in the future, probably sooner than you think!

Tru Ruts presents See More Perspective’s ARCHITEXTUAL DESIGN

SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE moved back to the Twin Cities after an eight-year stint in Chicago as a youth organizer, hip hop artist and all-around troublemaker in 2007. Since then, he’s played the shadows of the TC hip hop scene, emerging here and there to perform with label-mate Guante at the Soundset Festival, produce and record tracks for some of the scene’s top artists, release an indie-pop Halloween album as one half of Strange Perspective, beatbox for KRS-ONE and take part in countless other traditional and not-so-traditional events.

He also worked on his debut full-length, ARCHITEXTUAL DESIGN, a sprawling, ambitious concept album featuring Chicago’s broad-shouldered swagger, St. Paul’s down-home realness and Minneapolis’ forward-thinking drive. Three years plus in the making, that album is set to be released on November 30th, on rising label Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records’ Bandcamp page and in record stores after December 3rd.

Armed with a raspy, Lyrics Born-style drawl capable of both rapping and singing, a quick-witted positivity that never comes off as sugar-coated or phony, and an unapologetic earnestness that’s so rare in indie hip hop today, See More has created an album that quite literally sounds like nothing else out there. The album flows from heartbreaking storytelling tracks with real lyrical depth to party songs that celebrate hip hop’s roots to Gnarls Barkley-esque pop songs to wildly funky instrumentals to much more. Featuring Chicago rappers and Twin Cities spoken word artists, ARCHITEXTUAL DESIGN is always anchored by See More’s voice—in both the literal and literary sense of the word.

And it’s that voice that makes the album so special. See More Perspective is attempting to bring sincerity back. This isn’t ironic dance pop, tongue-in-cheek underground rap or faux-European synth music; this is a statement about culture as communication—not just the background noise of our lives, but the real foundation and structure on which we stand.

‘ARCHITEXTUAL DESIGN’ is available for download at Tru Ruts’ Bandcamp.

‘A Hug from a Stranger’ (Video) – Guante + Big Cats!

Check out the new video from Guante + Big Cats!. Directed by Tony Perkins, this video is for the song “A Hug From a Stranger” from their debut LP, “An Unwelcome Guest.” The song is a quiet moment in the narrative of the larger concept album, a story that deals with love, radical politics, superhero mythology and yes, zombies. Featuring Haley Bonar, Big Quarters, Chastity Brown, Eric Blair of No Bird Sing and Prolyphic of Strange Famous Records, the album was released in January of 2010 on Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records and is available for purchase at guanteandbigcats.bandcamp.com or truruts.bandcamp.com. Video shot on location at E Squared Cafe in Brainerd, MN.

“Part Cormac McCarthy, part Woody Guthrie, and part Public Enemy, An Unwelcome Guest is an intricately woven poetic and sonic excursion through landscapes mental, emotional, and physical, cementing Guante and Big Cats!’s status as two of the best emerging artists within Twin Cities hip-hop.” – TC Daily Planet

“Guante could very well follow Atmosphere and P.O.S. in the long-line of outstanding rappers to break from the Midwest.” – CMJ

“Guante and Big Cats! create intelligent, political hip hop that mercifully doesn’t come off as preachy or self-righteous. It’s sobering, demanding your attention like a car crash, yet emotional and alarmingly intimate at times.” – City Pages

Tru Ruts presents Strange Perspective’s JAZZ FUNERAL

An otherworldly combination of hip hop, jazz, indie rock and geek-pop, Strange Perspective is a late-night séance of sound and spirit. The debut collaboration between MC/producer See More Perspective and multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Dameun Strange, THE LOST SOULS BOYS CHOIR IN JAZZ FUNERAL, plays out as a spooky suite of songs exploring death, remembrance and rebirth, with reference points in the New Orleans jazz funeral tradition, the spirit of Dia de los Muertos and the culture of Victorian spiritualism. The duo took first place at this year’s Spoutstock cover competition with their version of “Jack’s Lament” from “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” which says quite a bit about their style and approach. This is quirky and fun, to be sure, but there’s also a sharp edge to the music that reminds the listener that fun and serious, escapism and meaning life and death themselves—they’re not as far apart as we’d often like to believe.

Two accomplished musicians in their own right, artists SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE and Dameun Strange join forces to create ‘Strange Perspective’. Born Adam Gabriel Rangel, SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE is a native of St. Paul, MN and son of Chicago. Having returned to his native Twin Cities roots from several years in Chi-town, he brings a unique aesthetic influenced by both communities. As a hip hop performer and recording artist, he captures and engages crowds of all generations through his energy and signature crowd interaction. As a lyricist poet, educator, self taught producer, actor, and visual artist his work carries revolutionary uplifting undertones known to motivate audiences across the Midwest and the South. As a producer, his music conveys a rawness of heart and soul that is effortlessly spiritual. Infused with traditions of jazz, funk and indigenous music, his sound is at times grainy and full – yet smooth and crisp.

Dameun Maurice Strange was born in Washington, DC. His interest in music began at an early age as he studied viola and clarinet in the DC Youth Orchestra program. At age 13, he began performing around the area as a saxophone soloist; writing music was his true passion. While at Macalester College in Saint Paul, MN, he began explorations in electronic music. He seeks to create a rich audio tapestry that would be able to portray a beautiful vignette or illustrate a compelling story.

‘JAZZ FUNERAL’ is available as a free download for a limited time at Tru Ruts’ Bandcamp.

Guante + Big Cats! ‘Don’t Be Nice’ Mixtape Cover + Tracklist

Don’t Be Nice is a whirlwind of radical storytelling tracks, punch-you-in-the-face battle raps, heartfelt love songs and more, including a couple of legitimate club bangers.  The free mixtape should cement Guante + Big Cats!’s reputation as one of the most ambitious, dynamic indie-rap duos in the country. Don’t Be Nice will be released for free download by rising indie label, Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records, on September 7th.

DON’T BE NICE
1. Talk
2. Truth Be Told Breaks It Down
3. The Ripple
4. Bring Out Your Dead (Big Cats! Remix)
5. Limb From Limb
6. The Hero
7. Harry Potter (Big Cats! Remix w/ Chantz)
8. Greed
9. Don’t Vote for Michelle Bachman
10. This is the Opposite of a Suicide Note
11. Red States (Live on The Current)
12. Dragons (Live on The Current)
13. The Damp, Foggy Midnight (Live on The Current)

Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records presents See More Perspective’s BREAKS IN THE CLOUDS

Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records presents BREAKS IN THE CLOUDS
MC and producer’s first beat tape is a psychedelic musical narrative

“Spitting classical flows with a quick angry tongue over crisp beats, it was hard to digest but I’d be ready to hear him again any day.” – City Pages

“Hip-hop and spooky graveyard fog find a surprisingly tight chemistry…” – A.V. Club Madison

“(See More Perspective) is a voice of this generation.” – Rich Albertoni (Madison’s Isthmus)

Like the other artists on the Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records roster (Sha Cage, e.g. bailey, Guante, Truthmaze, etc.) See More Perspective wears a lot of hats.  A teacher, a rapper, a drummer, a beatboxer and even a cook, See More is ready to show the world his talent as a producer with his first full-length beat tape, BREAKS IN THE CLOUDS.

Winner of the “Best Producer” award at the 2009 Urban Griots Awards, See More has worked with some of the brightest talents from the Twin Cities, Chicago (his home for nearly a decade) and beyond.  This beat compilation collects some of his favorite productions—some full-on instrumental arrangements, some rap songs stripped of their vocals, and some wild experiments thrown in for good measure.

The result is a psychedelic gumbo of styles and flavors.  These aren’t sped-up soul samples, generic club bangers or DJ Premier knock-off beats.  These are the products of a producer who has developed a real musical personality of his own and isn’t afraid to let it shine through.

“This new collection of instrumentals is a series of moments that break through,” See More says.  “Depending on the timing, these breaks can be both light and dark and you’ll find a mix of moody, dark pieces along with lighter and hopefully more inspiring pieces.  The effect may be a sort of bi-polar track listing, but isn’t that just like life?  The ebb and flow of our routine, struggle, progress and finally, breakthrough?”

See More Perspective will be releasing his debut full-length as a rapper, “Architextual Design,” later this year.  And if this beat tape is any indication, it’s going to be something pretty special—fearless, progressive and forward-thinking.

“The break though,” See More says.  “The moment of inspiration.  Recognition.  Fortification.  Love.  Light breaking through clouds at just the right time to speak to you, direct and anonymous, as you wake, drive, work, cook, clean or even dream.  A moment of clarity as it were, over a break beat.”

‘Breaks in the Clouds’ is available as a free download for a limited time at Tru Ruts’ Bandcamp.

‘Red States’ (Music Video) – Guante + Big Cats!

Music video for ‘Red States’ from the Guante + Big Cats! album ‘An Unwelcome Guest’. The video is directed by writer and filmmaker, Justin Schell. Produced by Tru Ruts. © 2009 Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records.

“Part Cormac McCarthy, part Woody Guthrie, and part Public Enemy, An Unwelcome Guest is an intricately woven poetic and sonic excursion through landscapes mental, emotional, and physical, cementing Guante and Big Cats!’s status as two of the best emerging artists within Twin Cities hip-hop.” – TC Daily Planet

“Guante could very well follow Atmosphere and P.O.S. in the long-line of outstanding rappers to break from the Midwest.” –CMJ

AN UNWELCOME GUEST is a hip hop concept album from Twin Cities producer BIG CATS! and rapper GUANTE. Over fifteen tracks, the album tells the story of one man moving from east to west in the wake of a man-made disaster and his own personal tragedy. Also, there are zombies.

The album features guest appearances from HALEY BONAR, PROLYPHIC (of Strange Famous Records), BIG QUARTERS, CHASTITY BROWN and ERIC BLAIR (of Hyder Ali and No Bird Sing). Through the album’s unique narrative frame, these artists join Guante in exploring issues of displacement, authority and the difference between the violence of the oppressor and the violence of the oppressed. Also: zombies.

Spoken-word work gets right to the point

CD review: Spoken-word work
gets right to the point

By John Ziegler, Duluth News Tribune

He can come on like a freight train. Words are his medium. He will make you laugh. He will make you cry. He will make you think.

His name is E.G. Bailey and his brand-new release “American Afrikan” combines spoken word, poetry and music to explore what it is to be an Afrikan in America today. It doesn’t just skim along the surface in that exploration, it heaves from below like a bulldozer churning up slabs of concrete, tree roots and old asphalt in its quest — Bailey leading the narrative charge.

Using language like John Coltrane used the tenor or soprano saxophone, Bailey — together with friends such as Aimee Bryant, Katrah Quey, Sha Cage, Hipgrosis, D.J.Limbs, plus African poets Ibe Kaba and Sankaradjeki; Dubai jazz ensemble Abstract Collision, and Mankwe Mdosi, the singer from Atmosphere — uses bits of pre-recorded sound, field recordings (including Liberian work songs from the Mano Tribe) and jazz. He rails, he whispers, he implores, he exhorts and subtly weaves his spell.

“K Street Blues: The Bailout Plan” sounds like it could have been Sonny Rollins captured on the Williamsburg Bridge in 1952 talking to the skyline with his horn.

“America” is Bailey (with Abstract Collision giving an eerie, angular backdrop) holding a mirror up to our own country with all its actions and how they have morphed over time. “America with your varicose veins and Catholic guilt, I fear you and I love you … America, it’s getting harder to defend you.”

Aimee Bryant’s stirring multi-tracked version of “Motherless Child” is a riveting take on this black spiritual.

“Afrikan is the New American” has an almost Prince-like groove smothered in chicken grease.

Bailey is the real deal. He has created spoken word dynamics in film, theater and recordings during his travels through this country as well as England, South Africa, France and Serbia. He is the founder of the MN Spoken Word Association, Tru Ruts Endeavors and the Spoken Word and Hip Hop Institute at the University of Minnesota. He’s been inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in the New York Modern Museum of Art.

“American Afrikan” is not just a journey but an adventure that, during February’s Black History Month, explores identity, history, culture and what it means to be black in America today.

The CD release of this wonderful piece of art takes place Saturday evening at the Bedlam Theatre in Minneapolis and should not be missed.

E.G. Bailey / “American Afrikan”
Genre: Spoken word/Poetry/Jazz/Hip Hop/Electronica
Label: Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records
Web site: http://www.egbailey.com, myspace.com/egbailey
Produced by: E.G. Bailey and Ben Durant

Upcoming show: Saturday at 9:30 p.m., the CD release party at the Bedlam Theatre, Minneapolis. Cost $5. Ages 18 and older. Includes special guests Guante, Sha Cage, Mankwe Ndosi, Ibe Kaba and more.

John Ziegler has worked in the music industry for the past 35 years as a radio host, interviewer, record producer and professional musician.

Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records presents E.G. Bailey’s AMERICAN AFRIKAN

Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records presents AMERICAN AFRIKAN
e.g. bailey’s debut mixes poetry, jazz, electronica, hip hop + more.

“He makes language live!” – Amiri Baraka

“There is so much history, culture, and experience packed into American Afrikan that to summarize would be to attempt to summarize all of African American experience.” – Jon Behm (Reviler)

“A powerful testament of bailey’s skill of mobilizing poetry for contemplation, remembrance, and a subtle, but no less insistent, call to action.” –Justin Schell

“No matter how long it takes for bailey to drop ‘da proverbial bomb’, it will have been well worth the wait.” – Dwight Hobbes

With co-signs from Umar Bin Hassan of the Last Poets and the legendary Amiri Baraka, Twin Cities spoken word artist, poet, musician, organizer and educator, e.g. bailey, presents his first full-length album, AMERICAN AFRIKAN, a spoken word concept album that begins in Africa, crosses the Middle Passage, explores America and ends up somewhere that defies easy definition.

Part musical theater piece, part audio chapbook and part performance art experiment, AMERICAN AFRIKAN mixes the beat-influenced poetry of bailey with music that blends hip hop, funk, jazz, electronica and more, creating a sound that is at once progressive and challenging yet smooth and listenable.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that an hour-long spoken word album wouldn’t be much fun to listen to; many aren’t. But as Umar Bin Hassan says in the album’s liner notes, “The sounds on this album are just as important as the words.” Through bailey’s voice, through the Igbo nuns on ‘Oracles of Equiano’, through Aimee Bryant’s rendition of ‘Motherless Child’ and through the album’s diverse sonic palette, AMERICAN AFRIKAN succeeds not just as a piece of literature or poetry, but as a cohesive musical journey.

Producer Katrah Quey, perhaps best known for his work with TC wordsmith M.anifest (who shows up to drop a verse on the ‘American Afrikan’ remix), handles a majority of that music, though Hipgnosis and DJ Limbs shine on a couple of early tracks. The beats compliment the words; sometimes fun and funky, sometimes dark and meditative––but always engaging. The album also features appearances by Twin Cities-based African poets, Ibé Kaba and Sankaradjeki; Mankwe Ndosi, singer for Atmosphere; Dubai jazz ensemble Abstrakt Collision; Midwest emcee Idris Goodwin and others.

Though the music might be what draws people into this album, it’s bailey himself that will keep them there. Crafting a masterful narrative from the first track to the last, he explores identity, history, culture and all the places they intertwine in a way that is always meaningful but never preachy; always heart-felt but never melodramatic. As he says himself: “The project attempts to explore what it means to be an Afrikan today, an Afrikan in America, an American Afrikan. What is this journey historically, metaphorically, poetically? However, you can’t answer that question unless you explore what it means to be American, in post-9/11 America. And because America affects and infects us all, it is also about all of us.”

Deemed a true innovator of the spoken word art form, his charismatic yet rhythmic style dances words with sound in and out of synch with verbal play. One of the most prolific voices and talents in the Twin Cities, Bailey’s work has taken him on travels through the U.S., England, South Africa, France, Serbia and more. He has created spoken word work in film, theater, music and radio. Born in Saclepea, Liberia, and now based in the U.S., he is a founder of several foundational entitles in the local and national community including: MN Spoken Word Association, Tru Ruts Endeavors, the Urban Griots Spoken Word Awards, The Spoken Word and Hip Hop Institute at the University of MN. He has appeared in spoken word commercials including ‘Art Connects’, which premiered during the 2008 B.E.T. Hip Hop Awards, and was featured on the MTV, VH1, MTV Europe, CBS, NBC and other networks, in addition to being inducted into the Television Hall of Fame archived at the Modern Museum of Arts in New York. As he moves effortless between radio, film, theater, and producing, his live performances are always a treat.

Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records presents: AMERICAN AFRIKAN
The debut album from spoken word artist E.G. BAILEY
CD RELEASE PARTY: SAT FEB 20TH
@ THE BEDLAM THEATRE  (1501 6th St S., Minneapolis, MN 55454)
Hosted by J. Otis Powell!. Featuring Guante, Mankwe Ndosi, Truthmaze, Sha Cage, See More Perspective, Chantz Erolin, Aimee Bryant, Ibé Kaba, Sankaradjeki, Dameun Strange, members of Junkyard Empire (Chris Cox + Bryan Berry), Kahlil Brewington, DJ Stage One + more.
10pm  18+  $5 advance

Tru Ruts secures distribution with IDC

Fresh off their partnership with Strange Famous Records, Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records has secured a national distribution deal with Independent Distribution Collective (IDC). IDC, based in the Bay Area, is the distribution home to dozens of labels and artists. They strive to create ‘a whole new avenue for current and next generation artists who are trying to bring their music to the public.’ They have distributed titles for artists such as Lee Scratch Perry, Toots and the Maytals, Bill Ortiz (of Santana), The Future Sound of Breaks, singer songwriters Kim Garrison and Katie Garibaldi, SonicBloom Hip Hop Collective (Bay Area), producer DNAE Beats (Gift of Gab, Mr. Lif, Pigeon John, Universal Records), King Tubby, Bad Brains and others. IDC will begin distributing Tru Ruts titles in January 2010.

Rising indie label, Tru Ruts, recently released Guante + Big Cats! album An Unwelcome Guest, in addition to Start A Fire (Guante + Big Cats!) and The Good Company EP (Chantz Erolin + Cory Grindberg), both of which were chosen as one of the ‘Best of the Midwest: EPs’ (Midwest Broadcast). In genres ranging from hip hop to spoken word to reggaeton, world music and more, Tru Ruts has released a number of critically acclaimed albums and compilations, with a roster of rising artists in their respective fields. For more information, contact Tru Ruts at info@truruts.com.

Strange Famous Records + Tru Ruts partner on exclusive offer

Strange Famous Records + Tru Ruts
to offer exclusive pre-sales of ‘An Unwelcome Guest’

“Earnestness can go wrong in hip hop.  On this album, it goes very right.” –Sage Francis

Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records’ release of “An Unwelcome Guest,” the hip hop concept album from Twin Cities duo Guante & Big Cats, will be available exclusively through Strange Famous Records until its official release on January 12th, 2010.  The indie-rap powerhouse, home to Sage Francis, B.Dolan, Prolyphic (who guests on the album) and other forward-thinking artists, will sell the album through its web-store at www.strangefamous.com.

Following the pre-sales period, rising indie label, Tru Ruts, will make the album available in stores and other distribution outlets, however, ‘An Unwelcome Guest’ will continue to be available via digital download through Strange Famous Records.

“An Unwelcome Guest” tells the story of one man fleeing the zombie apocalypse.  It may sound original, but isn’t.  The post-apocalypse concept has been done to death.  What is original, however, is the way the duo plays with perspective, pushes the boundaries of hip hop narrative and somehow makes a love story about zombies, superheroes, displacement, violence, struggle, and America work.

Big Cats’ beats could almost tell the story themselves—intensely cinematic, the production walks the line between crazy outer-space simmering funk and straight-up hip hop bangers.  Guante, part of the championship 2009 National Poetry Slam St. Paul team, writes like a poet but doesn’t rap like one—the songs are hook-driven, dynamic and instantly quotable.  Unapologetically political, unflinchingly descriptive and undeniably ambitious, the album is the duo’s first full-length collaboration.

Listeners who buy “An Unwelcome Guest” through the Strange Famous store will receive a signed copy of the album, a free instrumental CD, a limited-edition sticker and a booklet by Guante containing song lyrics, commentary and pictures.

SPECIAL NOTE FOR TWIN CITIES RESIDENTS:

Though the album’s official release (for record stores, ITunes and other retailers) will be in January, Twin Cities residents will have an exclusive opportunity to get it on Dec 12 at the Bedlam Theater during the special Twin Cities release party.  Joined by No Bird Sing, Kristoff Krane and the Tribe, and backed by a live band featuring members of Dragons Power Up, Guante & Big Cats will play the album in its entirety and sell physical copies of the album for one night only (10pm, 18+, $7).