Free Music: ‘No Capes’ from Guante + Big Cats!

[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.

‘A Hug from a Stranger’ (Video) – Guante + Big Cats!

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

‘Red States’ (Music Video) – Guante + Big Cats!

Music video for ‘Red States’ from the Guante + Big Cats! album ‘An Unwelcome Guest’. The video is directed by writer and filmmaker, Justin Schell. Produced by Tru Ruts. © 2009 Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records.

“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

AN UNWELCOME GUEST is a hip hop concept album from Twin Cities producer BIG CATS! and rapper GUANTE. Over fifteen tracks, the album tells the story of one man moving from east to west in the wake of a man-made disaster and his own personal tragedy. Also, there are zombies.

The album features guest appearances from HALEY BONAR, PROLYPHIC (of Strange Famous Records), BIG QUARTERS, CHASTITY BROWN and ERIC BLAIR (of Hyder Ali and No Bird Sing). Through the album’s unique narrative frame, these artists join Guante in exploring issues of displacement, authority and the difference between the violence of the oppressor and the violence of the oppressed. Also: zombies.

Guante Interviewed in Asian American Press

Kyle “Guante” Myhre
An interview with Bryan Thao Worra

Asian American Press recently caught up with the dynamic Kyle “Guante” Myhre in between projects. An emcee, spoken-word poet, activist, writer and educator based out of Minneapolis, he’s been slam champion of Minneapolis, St. Paul and Madison, and most recently took first place at the 2009 National Poetry Slam as a member of the St. Paul team.

As an emcee, Guante is signed to rising indie label Tru Ruts/Speakeay Records and is a multiple Independent Music Awards nominee, Urb Magazine “Next 1000″ artist and one of City Pages’ “Artists of the Year” for 2008. Guante has shared bills with many in independent hip hop, including Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Zion I and dead prez.

Guante’s also commits time to write for nationally-recognized music blog CultureBully.com, facilitate university-level social justice courses and spearheading the “Hip Hop Against Homophobia” concert series. He teaches writing and performance workshops through the Minnesota Spoken-Word Association and serve as arts coordinator of the Canvas, a St. Paul youth center. For more information, check out www.guante.info.

AAP: How did you get started?

Kyle Myhre: I always liked to write; it’s something I showed a lot of aptitude for at a very young age. I was lucky and privileged enough to be encouraged by family and teachers to I kept writing. In college, I got involved in the spoken-word scene and also started rapping, and that opened up a new world of possibilities for me – I saw my art not as something I could get published, but as something I could travel around and share with people, face to face.

AAP: What keeps you going as an artist?

KM: A lot of spite.  I say that only half-jokingly. I’m a critic as well as a writer, so sometimes I see and hear things that I greatly dislike (unoriginal, manipulative, exploitative, boring, etc.), and that inspires me to create something better. Aside from that, my work as an activist inspires a lot of my writing.

AAP: What are the themes you really enjoy examining in your work?

KM: When I’m writing “political” work, or work that examines social justice-oriented material, I like to stress things like the importance of perspective and the power of collective action. I think we have enough blunt, unimaginative political poetry, and also enough hyper-abstract, borderline-nonsensical political poetry. My work tends to fall in the middle stylistically.  In terms of content and themes, I’m interested in activism, the construction of masculinity, working-class issues, and more – admittedly not the most revolutionary or unique topics to tackle, but I think that’s part of the challenge. A million poets have “masculinity poems” and “poetry poems” and love poems. I enjoy attempting to come at these topics from a fresh angle and try to breathe some life into them.

AAP: What are your projects that are really exciting you at the moment?

KM: I just released a hip hop concept album called “An Unwelcome Guest,” which tells one story across fifteen tracks. The story deals with zombies, superhero mythology, the displacement, the difference between the violence of the oppressor and the violence of the oppressed and much more ­– and it’d a love story. The album has had a huge push behind it and we’ve been able to get it into a lot of people’s hands and have some great reviews.

I’m currently finishing up my one-man spoken-word show, “The Fist that Lives in Your Neck,” which examines how work informs identity and how what we do for a living has a part in shaping who we are. I’d like to debut that (along with a book and DVD) later this year. Finally, I’m trying to get back on the St. Paul poetry slam team again and defend our 2009 National Poetry Slam title.

AAP: Where in your latest work do you feel you are you really trying to push yourself?

KM: To me, there’s the never-ending challenge of creating work that is at once avant-garde and “pop.” I want to make music and write poetry that anyone can appreciate, but that isn’t stupid. The artists whom I look up to do that very well – balance pop sensibility with some really forward-thinking stuff… it’s about challenging the audience while entertaining them. Too far in either direction and it’s pointless, at least to me.

So this balance has always been my goal; with my latest work, I think it’s about refining it. I want to write stuff that I can stand behind 100 percent philosophically, politically and artistically, but I also want to write stuff I can perform in any context and find success.

AAP: What’s your next project you’d like to take on?

KM: Definitely a graphic novel. They’re pretty much all I read these days, and I’m exciting about exploring the areas where graphic fiction, poetry and hip hop can intersect.

Originally posted on Asian American Press on 19 February 2010.

An Unwelcome Guest reviewed on Reviler

Guante and Big Cats:
An Unwelcome Guest Review

Full disclosure: Kyle Myhre and I used to both write for the same publication, the now defunct site Culture Bully.  Now that he and I have parted ways though I am finally free to say what I really think of the guy.  And that is…that Myhre is one of the best rappers in the Twin Cities today, not to mention its best spoken word poet.  At best the only fault with the dude that I can find is that he’s too serious.  But, his stern demeanor does in fact make it all the more hilarious when he quietly drops an unexpected one liner about “taking another rapper’s wallet and making him cry.” It’s funny because Guante is the kind of guy who would cross town to give back a wallet that he found on the ground.

Despite Myhre’s day job as a “nice guy” his hip hop alter ego Guante (formerly El Guante) is that of a pissed off revolutionary who eviscerates politicians and fake rappers with equal vitriol.  Guante’s roots as a spoken word artist give him a natural sense of cadence as well as a keen understanding for the impact of words.  His is a quiet, deliberate flow, a rhythm that constructs elaborate ideas rather than burning them to the ground.  Last year Guante teamed up with local producer Big Cats to release An Unwelcome Guest, a post-apocalyptic journey through wasteland America.   Unwelcome Guest is a sort of Hip Hop version of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, except where the novel offers no explanations for the world’s end, Guante has plenty of answers.  Military build up, economic warfare, social inequality, and the hypocrisy of politicians to name a few.  “No Capes” probably sums it up best when Superman, the champion of the “American Way” is found dead, unceremoniously dumped behind a Chinese restaurant while everyday heroes (the janitor, the artist, the teacher, etc) continue to do the world’s less-heralded good deeds (the “real” heroes).   In another track a torture victim is turned into a “bad guy” through his victimization – a scenario that strikes close to that of prisoners in Guantanamo.   In yet another a war vet wastes his life on a country that doesn’t seem to care for him – leaving him desperate and contemplating violence.

As dark and hopeless as Guante’s vision seems he does offer some hope – at heart Unwelcome Guest is deeply humanistic.  In “A Hug from a Stranger” he speaks of building a “bridge in every direction, constructed from muscle and bone.” The meaning is direct – if we don’t work together then we will fall apart.  It’s an old idea but a good one regardless, even if it’s a concept that the human race seems historically determined to ignore.  As Myhre says though, “Hungry people don’t stay hungry, they either die or take a bite.”  If Unwelcome Guest can prompt just a few more people to take a bite, then in my mind it is a step in the right direction.

– Jon Behm

Originally posted on Reviler on 19 February 2010.

Tru Ruts secures distribution with IDC

Fresh off their partnership with Strange Famous Records, Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records has secured a national distribution deal with Independent Distribution Collective (IDC). IDC, based in the Bay Area, is the distribution home to dozens of labels and artists. They strive to create ‘a whole new avenue for current and next generation artists who are trying to bring their music to the public.’ They have distributed titles for artists such as Lee Scratch Perry, Toots and the Maytals, Bill Ortiz (of Santana), The Future Sound of Breaks, singer songwriters Kim Garrison and Katie Garibaldi, SonicBloom Hip Hop Collective (Bay Area), producer DNAE Beats (Gift of Gab, Mr. Lif, Pigeon John, Universal Records), King Tubby, Bad Brains and others. IDC will begin distributing Tru Ruts titles in January 2010.

Rising indie label, Tru Ruts, recently released Guante + Big Cats! album An Unwelcome Guest, in addition to Start A Fire (Guante + Big Cats!) and The Good Company EP (Chantz Erolin + Cory Grindberg), both of which were chosen as one of the ‘Best of the Midwest: EPs’ (Midwest Broadcast). In genres ranging from hip hop to spoken word to reggaeton, world music and more, Tru Ruts has released a number of critically acclaimed albums and compilations, with a roster of rising artists in their respective fields. For more information, contact Tru Ruts at info@truruts.com.

Guante + Big Cats on 3-Minute Egg

Guante (better known to those closest to him as Kyle Myhre) has made big splashes in the Twin Cities both as a slam poet and rapper. His new full-length disc of music is the concept album, An Unwelcome Guest, created in collaboration with Big Cats, a local producer who has served up beats for Sage Francis, Jolie Holland and Haley Bonar, among many others. 3-Minute Egg went to a rehearsal on the eve of the CD release show and spoke with Guante and Cats about their joint effort. [Courtesy of 3-Minute Egg]

‘An Unwelcome Guest’ + Above Ground Magazine

The pre-sales promo video for ‘An Unwelcome Guest’ was posted on the always active Midwest hip hop blog, Above Ground Magazine. To check out the post, link here.

‘An Unwelcome Guest’ Release Party Video

Live version of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’
featuring Big Quarters + Truthbetold (of The Tribe).

Live version of ‘Yes, God is a DJ; No, Not a Good One’
featuring Eric Blair (of No Bird Sing).

[Courtesy of Culturebully.com]

Make your best “big cat” face

photo by B Fresh Photography

Guante & Big Cats at Bedlam: Make your best “big cat” face

We checked out the Guante and Big Cats release show for their new album, ” An Unwelcome Guest” over at the Bedlam Theater, and we asked you to give us your best “big cats” face. Here are our Top 10 as well as pics from the show. PHOTOS BY B FRESH PHOTOGRAPHY. To view the slideshow link to original post on City Pages on 13 December 2009.