Chaka Mkali has helped Rhymesayers become the renowned hip-hop institution that it is today, recording material for the label since the early aughts. He splits his time as an organizing director at the Hope Community and as I Self Devine, creating a unique parallel and perspective between art and community activism. Because of these two synced-up professions, Mkali has been heralded as one of the most significant musicians in the Twin Cities right now.
Of course it doesn’t hurt that Mkali’s new record The Sound Of Low Class Amerika is rich with vintage beats and hard-hitting raps that doesn’t hold back with exposing society’s inequalities. And while more underground hip-hop has historically had that focus, the mainstream has overshadowed public issues in favor of materialism and stale lyricism – like most modern music.
Mkali is a long-time veteran and someone who will no doubt be making music for years to come. But this record in particular feels like it will be a distinct part of his legacy and the Rhymesayers catalogue. His insight of the world, based on strong roots with his family, has inspired strong discourse in the community that’s simultaneously challenging and embracing.
I Self Devine is the first hour in-studio guest for Sunday night’s edition of The Local Show. Download “Exist To Remain” from our Song of the Day page and subscribe to the podcast while you’re at it.