Homeless & Big Cats: Polar Bear Rug
Local producer Big Cats works with a menagerie of local talent—most notably rappers Toki Wright and Guante—and this summer he’s teaming up with poet, writer, and rapper Ryan Kopperud, whose moniker is “Homeless,” for their debut collaboration together, The Polar Bear Rug EP.
If you spoke as loudly as you could without yelling, you’d sound a bit like Homeless when he raps. It’s intense without being threatening. His bravado blends well with Big Cats’ varied beats—clearly influenced by jazz, classical, and other genres.
“Hawk Spit,” the EP’s second track, features no fewer than four guests (P.O.S, Toki Wright, MaLLy, and Eric Mayson), but it doesn’t feel crowded. The highlight is the chorus belted by Mayson, whose voice could be mistaken for Justin Timberlake’s at times. That’s even more true on the chorus in “A Thousand Thousands,” a track with a slightly cheesy theme: “If I made a lot of money, here’s what I’d do with it.” (Okay, maybe I’m just sick of hearing rappers talk about money, unless it’s Rihanna.)
Homeless’s lyrical skill shines brightest in tracks like “Forklifts” and “Redshift,” where Kopperud comes across as vulnerable and authentic. The simple, repeated phrase “I don’t owe nobody nothing/ I don’t wanna be anywhere” in “Forklifts” and the confused “I probably don’t/ I know I do” in “Redshift” evoke a poignant mood that fits the rapper’s moniker.
As a Bomba de Luz lover, I was bummed that Lydia Liza’s part in the EP closer “Well Wishes” is simply wordless vocalizing—but I can’t deny that the gentleness of the track, aided by her multi-tracked cooing, makes for a comfortable exit. All in all, the soulful Mayson is the standout guest on this release; in a perfect world, Mayson would be added to the duo of Homeless & Big Cats, making it a trio.
Catch the Homeless & Big Cats release show Saturday, Aug. 1 at Icehouse.
Grace Birnstengel is a student at the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities.
Wretch: Kink EP
There’s a lot to be said for the plethora of punk, post-punk, riot grrrl and the many punk subgenres that call the Twin Cities home. What if there was something new to add to one of our most beloved music scenes? Wretch is attempting to just that with their sexually liberating debut the Kink EP. The trio make glam-punk with a heavy dose of their own brand of sexuality. On Facebook, they tell their fans that they “wish we could rip out your hearts and make out with them.” Their philosophy is “No Apologies. No Regrets. No Guitars,” and their live shows reflect it. You can check out their Kitty Cat Klub performance back in April via UnderCurrentMPLS above. They’ll be at the 7th Street Entry on Monday to release Kink.
Elena: The Girl I Know
Elena is a new singer-songwriter ready to give you some easy listening on her debut The Girl I Know EP. From acoustic jam sessions like “Kiss Me Again” to the jazzy tinged “Wandering,” Elena’s music explores both the happy and sad sides of love. She will be at the Pourhouse on Thursday for the release. You can also keep up with Elena’s thoughts on her blog.
QNA: QNA EP
Jazz and hip-hop have always had their moments together, and the two genres are having yet another with University of Minnesota grads QNA. The all-jazz five-piece made their way out to New York City for a gap year to try their hand with Carlos Kelley and Benjamin Chin’s influenced rhymes—influenced by their time in the Twin Cities—hovering over their bright-eyed tracks. On the loose and appealing QNA, every track sounds like a freestyle rap clinging to a gleefully runaway band.
Aaron Bolton is a senior at the University of Minnesota. Currently he is a co-host on Radio K’s Off The Record and is the music reporter at Radio K. He hopes to continue a career in music journalism.