Local Current Blog

Minnesota Sounds, a new artist-made playlist, celebrates Minnesota hip-hop

Greg Grease, featured on the Minnesota Sounds playlist, performs in The Current's studios in 2013. Photo by Nate Ryan/MPR.

These days, show calendars at the Nomad World Pub, the 7th Street Entry, and more venues are packed with local hip-hop bills. One reason for that is artists’ willingness to go out to shows and support their peers — and even beyond live contexts, a particular boom of collaboration and mutual support is taking place in town. One product of that is the new Minnesota Sounds playlist, a compilation of over 100 songs by artists in the Twin Cities.

Local MC J. Plaza made the playlist to show how deep and wide Minnesota’s talent is, he said on Wednesday. Rhymesayers’s backpack rap now shares the stage with a dreamier, younger aesthetic, which has been heralded by artists like thestand4rdNazeem and Spencer Joles, Finding Novyon, and Ness Nite are some of the newest artists making waves.

When Plaza’s family moved to Farmington, Minnesota in 2007, he couldn’t find any hip-hop. “Nobody in Farmington rapped or anything like that,” he said, “like, I didn’t know of anybody. So I didn’t go to the studio — I didn’t know there were shows in the Cities or anything — I didn’t think there were any rappers at all.” But after spending some time in Atlanta, he moved back to the Gopher State, and he discovered the Twin Cities’ vibrant community.

“Minnesota is the first scene where I really started doing music,” Plaza said. “I see a lot of potential, and there’s a lot of young people right now that’re making super good music at the age of 19 or 20. They’re already in the scene. And if they keep doing it, making music and having fun, there’s no telling what can happen.”

Since the playlist went live, Atmosphere, Ness Nite, and Mirage have shared it online. It continues to get more attention, and Plaza will keep adding tracks every few months.

After releasing songs like “Minnesota Alarm” and “Metro Boomin” in the last several months, Plaza is working on a project that he hopes will drop this year. For now, though, he’s pointing people to the playlist, encouraging them to discover the whole state’s work. “If you like hip-hop music,” he said, “you’ll probably become a new fan of somebody that’s on that playlist.”