Tru Ruts presents Guante’s CONSCIOUS IS NOT ENOUGH 2011

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

THE MUSIC:

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 WORK:

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.

NEXT STEPS:

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 (elguante@gmail.com) or Tru Ruts (press.truruts@gmail.com) or check out www.guante.info or www.twitter.com/elguante.

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

Guante + Big Cats! ‘Don’t Be Nice’ Mixtape Cover + Tracklist

Don’t Be Nice is a whirlwind of radical storytelling tracks, punch-you-in-the-face battle raps, heartfelt love songs and more, including a couple of legitimate club bangers.  The free mixtape should cement Guante + Big Cats!’s reputation as one of the most ambitious, dynamic indie-rap duos in the country. Don’t Be Nice will be released for free download by rising indie label, Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records, on September 7th.

DON’T BE NICE
1. Talk
2. Truth Be Told Breaks It Down
3. The Ripple
4. Bring Out Your Dead (Big Cats! Remix)
5. Limb From Limb
6. The Hero
7. Harry Potter (Big Cats! Remix w/ Chantz)
8. Greed
9. Don’t Vote for Michelle Bachman
10. This is the Opposite of a Suicide Note
11. Red States (Live on The Current)
12. Dragons (Live on The Current)
13. The Damp, Foggy Midnight (Live on The Current)

Ruts Revival

RUTS REVIVAL

featuring GUANTE + BIG CATS!, SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE, SHA CAGE, TRUTHMAZE, E.G. BAILEY, CHANTZ EROLIN, QUILOMBOLAS + others

with special guests I SELF DEVINE (Rhymesayers), ANALYRICAL (Background Noise Crew), SKETCH TC, DJ STAGE ONE, 2013 (featuring members of Junkyard Empire) + others

The Tru Ruts crew has been putting in work, both on stage and behind the scenes, for a very long time. A record label, a theater production company, a film studio and a Twin Cities cultural institution, Tru Ruts is dedicated to supporting talented, forward-thinking artists, putting on events that go beyond the same ‘ol, same ‘ol, and nurturing the next generation of young writers and performers. Join us in celebrating some big steps made over this past year: national distribution, slam championships, high-profile performances, critically-acclaimed album releases, successful youth programs and much more. And THANKS for all the support!

May 1st • Fine Line Music Cafe
318 North 1st Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55401
www.finelinemusic.com

8:00pm doors • $5 (21+) • $8 (18+)

‘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.

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.