Tru Ruts kicks off another music series, this time from hip hop and spoken word stalwart, Truthmaze. The new series, The Truthmaze Experience, will be a musical potluck of unreleased tracks, new mixes, collaborations and more. Though known primarily as a hip hop and spoken word artist, Truthmaze’s work as a whole defies categorization. He has worked with numerous musical projects, bands and ensembles, and has been a part of countless collaborations, nationally and internationally. A beatboxer, emcee, percussionist and poet, he often leaps across genres, and has the ingenuity to fuse these genres into something new, original and unexpected. This free-wheeling spirit and eclecticism will be highlighted on this new series. You can listen to the first track from ‘The Truthmaze Experience’ here.
Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records presents CONSCIOUS IS NOT ENOUGH 2011
Twin Cities hip hop artist’s new mixtape is backed up by real activist work
In 2008, Guante released “Conscious is Not Enough,” a collection of songs written around the idea that while voting in the 2008 election was important, coming together as a community and organizing for change was more important. While hip hop albums—much less mixtapes—don’t generally have thesis statements, CINE was a progressive call-to-arms, a rallying cry for those who believe that hope and change aren’t things you vote for—they’re things you work for.
With the recent turmoil in Guante’s home-state of Wisconsin, revolutions sweeping the Middle East and an assortment of battles taking place in Guante’s current home, the Twin Cities, indie label Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records is releasing an updated, re-recorded and re-mixed version of the mixtape. It will be available as a free download from www.truruts.bandcamp.com on March 29.
Featuring original production from the likes of Big Cats! (Sage Francis, the Tribe), DJ Pain 1 (Young Jeezy, Chuck D), Calvin Valentine (Planet Asia, Phil da Agony) and others, plus a few jacked beats (including the crowd-favorite “Your Boyfriend’s a Republican” performed over the instrumental to Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good”), the mixtape is tied together by Guante’s relentless wit, political insight, technical virtuosity and pure, uncut passion for the subject matter. It’s also proof positive that political hip hop can have a sense of humor, and that smart rappers can also be entertaining.
The mixtape also serves as the official announcement of the MN Activist Project, a database of progressive activist organizations that Guante has pulled together. That database (www.mnactivist.com) will be tied to a promotional campaign aimed at getting more people involved in activism and organizing. The site also includes toolkits and resources for young activists.
“There’s a natural connection between art, media, education and activism,” Guante says. “This mixtape, along with the MN Activist Project, is about drawing attention to that connection and to the overlap that’s already there. Hip hop can put 300 people in the same room who would otherwise never be together; that’s a powerful thing. The website is partly about trying to focus that power.”
Guante, a two-time National Poetry Slam champion, former City Pages’ “Best of the Twin Cities” artist and URB Magazine “Next 1000” artist, is a long-time social justice advocate. His work includes curating the “Hip Hop Against Homophobia” concert series, leading writing and social justice workshops in schools throughout the Midwest and serving as arts coordinator of the Canvas, a teen art center in St. Paul.
Guante will be celebrating the new mixtape at two upcoming shows. The first, on April 4 at the Whole Music Club at the University of Minnesota (8pm, all ages, free), happens to be the next Hip Hop Against Homophobia concert. The second will be at Cause in Uptown Minneapolis, on April 7 (21+, 9pm, $5).
For more information, interview requests contact Guante (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Tru Ruts (email@example.com) or check out www.guante.info or www.twitter.com/elguante.
“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
[Note: This promo has ended. But check the download category for other free downloads.]
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.
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.
‘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!
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.
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
November’s installment of ‘See More Perspective’s Boombox Emporium’, an eclectic, monthly free music series, presents a spectacular remix of a Chicago underground classic. ‘Pyramids’ interweaves loose cultural allegories of See More’s Mexican heritage and its relationship to African history while drawing parallels to ancient civilizations and modern day hip hop. The inspired, electro-funky remix, featuring an upgraded chorus and a new verse, delves deeper into these multicultural undertones and brings out the idea of how hip hop and its practitioners are building cultural monuments for the ages. Just the kind of casual, big picture yet party appropriate philosophy you can expect from SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE. Ganzobean has been busy producing tracks for local legend Musab, touring with the likes of Abstract Rude and just released a free EP dedicated to Jack White.
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.