It’s been quite the year for internet memes in Minnesota. Last month, over 10,000 people gathered on the Walker Art Center’s lawn for the first-ever Internet Cat Video Film Festival, while a group of aspiring young rappers from North Minneapolis started burning up the internet with their irresistable ode to snacks, “Hot Cheetos & Takis.” The former event made headlines around the world and turned into something of a meme feeding frenzy, while the latter group have been shy about making many public appearances or talking to the press.
So I was extra giddy to hear that Y.N.RichKids would be making a rare appearance in Powderhorn Park last weekend. For those unaware of the whole “Hot Cheetos & Takis” backstory, the younguns in Y.N.RichKids are part of an after-school music-making program called Beats and Rhymes at the North Community YMCA; Saturday’s event was held to raise awareness of a similar program called Ideawerks in South Minneapolis.
“Did you know that there was a recording studio in Powderhorn Park?” DJ Simone Dujour asked the crowd. No, most of us shrugged, no we did not. The Powderhorn Ideawerks studio is actually one of two in South Minneapolis, with the other located in Phillips, and the studio’s operators opened their doors on Saturday to give tours of the space to the many families in attendance.
Members of the surrounding Powderhorn and Seward communities trickled in and out of the park throughout the afternoon as groups like Regional Dialect, Bars & Measures, and Villa Rosa performed, but the bulk of the crowd clearly came for an early-evening set by Y.N.RichKids. Event organizer Toki Wright offered a heartfelt introduction, saying that the success that the group of young students has enjoyed should be an inspiration to all who are striving to be creative, and with that the Y.N.RichKids signaled to a DJ to fire up their intro music and marched stoically and proudly out in front of the makeshift stage.
“We’ll do pictures after, but no interviews, ok?” G6 said, causing a chorus of “awws” and giggles to ripple through the crowd. The budding rock stars started their set with a 15-minute round-robin performance of hip-hop classics, all scrubbed clean of swear words and drug references to be appropriate for the pre-teen group. (Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice” was switched to “Juicy Juice,” for example, and most drug references were changed to candy.) Each of the kids took at least one turn at the mic — save for the youngest of the group, Ben 10, who bounced animatedly in the background and awaited the moment when he could rip his killer “Hot Cheetos & Takis” verse.
The round-robin performances proved that “Hot Cheetos & Takis” is no fluke — these kids can really rap, and handled their microphones like seasoned pros. But the group knew that the crowd came to hear “the hit,” and as soon as the opening punches of “Hot Cheetos” fired up the whole crew bounded out in front of the stage and huddled together in one bouncing mass.
The entire performance was on-point, with the rappers skillfully passing the mic and feeding off one another’s energy. But you don’t have to take my word for it — here’s a video of Y.N.RichKids’ entire set, captured by Dave Loomer and uploaded by Kyle Matteson (“Hot Cheetos & Takis” starts at 22:30):
And here are a few more photos of the event by Ben Clark: