‘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.

Tru Ruts on Rift Magazine

Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records secures national distribution. The local upstart label/community based arts collective has started using IDC (Independent Distribution Collective) for their distribution.  This label has had many great releases over the last year and is releasing American Afrikan – E.G. Bailey’s debut album this Saturday at the Bedlam Theater.

Originally posted on Rift Magazine on 19 February 2010.

Spoken-word work gets right to the point

CD review: Spoken-word work
gets right to the point

By John Ziegler, Duluth News Tribune

He can come on like a freight train. Words are his medium. He will make you laugh. He will make you cry. He will make you think.

His name is E.G. Bailey and his brand-new release “American Afrikan” combines spoken word, poetry and music to explore what it is to be an Afrikan in America today. It doesn’t just skim along the surface in that exploration, it heaves from below like a bulldozer churning up slabs of concrete, tree roots and old asphalt in its quest — Bailey leading the narrative charge.

Using language like John Coltrane used the tenor or soprano saxophone, Bailey — together with friends such as Aimee Bryant, Katrah Quey, Sha Cage, Hipgrosis, D.J.Limbs, plus African poets Ibe Kaba and Sankaradjeki; Dubai jazz ensemble Abstract Collision, and Mankwe Mdosi, the singer from Atmosphere — uses bits of pre-recorded sound, field recordings (including Liberian work songs from the Mano Tribe) and jazz. He rails, he whispers, he implores, he exhorts and subtly weaves his spell.

“K Street Blues: The Bailout Plan” sounds like it could have been Sonny Rollins captured on the Williamsburg Bridge in 1952 talking to the skyline with his horn.

“America” is Bailey (with Abstract Collision giving an eerie, angular backdrop) holding a mirror up to our own country with all its actions and how they have morphed over time. “America with your varicose veins and Catholic guilt, I fear you and I love you … America, it’s getting harder to defend you.”

Aimee Bryant’s stirring multi-tracked version of “Motherless Child” is a riveting take on this black spiritual.

“Afrikan is the New American” has an almost Prince-like groove smothered in chicken grease.

Bailey is the real deal. He has created spoken word dynamics in film, theater and recordings during his travels through this country as well as England, South Africa, France and Serbia. He is the founder of the MN Spoken Word Association, Tru Ruts Endeavors and the Spoken Word and Hip Hop Institute at the University of Minnesota. He’s been inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in the New York Modern Museum of Art.

“American Afrikan” is not just a journey but an adventure that, during February’s Black History Month, explores identity, history, culture and what it means to be black in America today.

The CD release of this wonderful piece of art takes place Saturday evening at the Bedlam Theatre in Minneapolis and should not be missed.

E.G. Bailey / “American Afrikan”
Genre: Spoken word/Poetry/Jazz/Hip Hop/Electronica
Label: Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records
Web site: www.egbailey.com, myspace.com/egbailey
Produced by: E.G. Bailey and Ben Durant

Upcoming show: Saturday at 9:30 p.m., the CD release party at the Bedlam Theatre, Minneapolis. Cost $5. Ages 18 and older. Includes special guests Guante, Sha Cage, Mankwe Ndosi, Ibe Kaba and more.

John Ziegler has worked in the music industry for the past 35 years as a radio host, interviewer, record producer and professional musician.

E.G. Bailey featured in Star Tribune

Bailey comes home
By Chris Riemenschneider
Star Tribune

Spoken-word artist and Tru Ruts label proprietor E.G. Bailey might have what you’re looking for in the form of his first full-length CD, “American Afrikan”.

Looking to celebrate Black History Month to the tune of something besides “We Shall Overcome?” Spoken-word artist and Tru Ruts label proprietor E.G. Bailey might have what you’re looking for in the form of his first full-length CD, “American Afrikan,” a thought-provoking collection that also provokes some cool grooves out of Bailey’s flowing poetry.

Inspired by Bailey’s trips to Africa, the disc laces field recordings and traditional African verses with modern digital beats and live drums. In “Liberia,” for instance, he expounds on a “nation waiting to be reborn” over the rhythmic clanging of hammers from field workers. In the title track, he trades verses with African poets over a steady treadmill-like beat and soulful backup vocals by Atmosphere touring member Mankwe Ndosi. Themes of identity, reclamation and rebirth permeate the album and should make for an equally evocative stage show. The release party is Saturday at the West Bank’s Bedlam Theatre with guests Guante, Sha Cage and more (9:30 p.m., $5).

Originally posted on Star Tribune on 18 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.

Free download of E.G. Bailey’s ‘Blues People’

E.G. BAILEY’S ‘BLUES PEOPLE’
Surprising + Refreshing

blue black and beautiful
are we
many colors
the sun.  god’s breath
whispering through song
through wombs, pregnant
with freedom

‘He makes language live.’ – Amiri Baraka

Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records presents a free download of  spoken word artist E.G. BAILEY’s ‘Blues People’, from his upcoming album, AMERICAN AFRIKAN. The free download is available at these links:

egbailey.bandcamp.commyspace.com/trurutsmyspace.com/egbaileyZshareDirect Download to Computer

‘Blues People’, a call to peoples across the diaspora, looks towards hope for those still struggling in this new world. Bailey utilizes imagery in a skillful and refreshing way in speaking about the multiplicity of the Black experience in America. Marrying it against a jazz-inspired musical backdrop couldn’t have been a smarter choice. It allows the poetry to have a grandeur and resonance. Recorded live in Minneapolis’ nationally recognized spoken word scene, and performed alongside saxophonist Andy Shaffer, of ‘New Orleans Swamp Pop’ outfit, Skinny Longfeet, there is a raw guttural tonality informing the relationship between the music and words. Evoking a call and response, reminiscent of early gospel and blues, the piece allows each to maintain it’s own identity while carefully courting the space between one another.

Bailey’s astute relationship with the rhythm of language, coupled with his academic background as both a student and teacher of poetry, is prevalent in his musical and metaphorical choices. As Bailey has stated, the poem, winner of the  Hughes Knight Diop Poetry Award from the Gwendolyn Brooks Writers Conference, strives to tell the history of Africans in America through the craft of writing. It provokes you to connect with the pain of that struggle. A well crafted piece of spoken word, it continues to show why e.g. bailey can be found at the forefront of the art form.

Bailey’s spoken word opus, American Afrikan, will be released in early 2010. Recent spotlights on e.g. bailey:

‘Twin Towers’‘Home at Last’‘From Chains to Change’

For more information: Tru RutsE.G. BaileyAndy Shaffer

Strange Famous Records + Tru Ruts partner on exclusive offer

Strange Famous Records + Tru Ruts
to offer exclusive pre-sales of ‘An Unwelcome Guest’

“Earnestness can go wrong in hip hop.  On this album, it goes very right.” –Sage Francis

Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records’ release of “An Unwelcome Guest,” the hip hop concept album from Twin Cities duo Guante & Big Cats, will be available exclusively through Strange Famous Records until its official release on January 12th, 2010.  The indie-rap powerhouse, home to Sage Francis, B.Dolan, Prolyphic (who guests on the album) and other forward-thinking artists, will sell the album through its web-store at www.strangefamous.com.

Following the pre-sales period, rising indie label, Tru Ruts, will make the album available in stores and other distribution outlets, however, ‘An Unwelcome Guest’ will continue to be available via digital download through Strange Famous Records.

“An Unwelcome Guest” tells the story of one man fleeing the zombie apocalypse.  It may sound original, but isn’t.  The post-apocalypse concept has been done to death.  What is original, however, is the way the duo plays with perspective, pushes the boundaries of hip hop narrative and somehow makes a love story about zombies, superheroes, displacement, violence, struggle, and America work.

Big Cats’ beats could almost tell the story themselves—intensely cinematic, the production walks the line between crazy outer-space simmering funk and straight-up hip hop bangers.  Guante, part of the championship 2009 National Poetry Slam St. Paul team, writes like a poet but doesn’t rap like one—the songs are hook-driven, dynamic and instantly quotable.  Unapologetically political, unflinchingly descriptive and undeniably ambitious, the album is the duo’s first full-length collaboration.

Listeners who buy “An Unwelcome Guest” through the Strange Famous store will receive a signed copy of the album, a free instrumental CD, a limited-edition sticker and a booklet by Guante containing song lyrics, commentary and pictures.

SPECIAL NOTE FOR TWIN CITIES RESIDENTS:

Though the album’s official release (for record stores, ITunes and other retailers) will be in January, Twin Cities residents will have an exclusive opportunity to get it on Dec 12 at the Bedlam Theater during the special Twin Cities release party.  Joined by No Bird Sing, Kristoff Krane and the Tribe, and backed by a live band featuring members of Dragons Power Up, Guante & Big Cats will play the album in its entirety and sell physical copies of the album for one night only (10pm, 18+, $7).

Guante + Big Cats: ‘An Unwelcome Guest’ CD Release Party

Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records presents:
Guante & Big Cats: “An Unwelcome Guest” CD release party

Mark your calendars.  December 12, 2009 will be the Twin Cities release party for Guante + Big Cats’ debut LP, “AN UNWELCOME GUEST,” at the Bedlam Theater in Minneapolis.  Supporting acts will include No Bird Sing, Kristoff Krane and The Tribe.  The show will be 18+ and start at 10pm.  Tickets are $5 in advance, and $7 at the door. Advance tickets can be purchased at Fifth Element. Bedlam Theatre, 1501 – 6th Street South, Minneapolis, MN 55454.

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.

Stay tuned.  Much more (including the first single, some exclusive video stuff and more announcements) coming soon.

An Unwelcome Guest Release Party Flyer (Back) (700pxl)

Tru Ruts presents ‘Return to El Guante’s Haunted Studio Apartment’

Return to Haunted Studio Apartment (600pxl)

RETURN TO EL GUANTE’S HAUNTED STUDIO APARTMENT
Remixed and Re-imagined (again) by See More Perspective

Just in time for Halloween, ‘Return to El Guante’s Haunted Studio Apartment’ is a Frankenstein’s monster of remixes, re-imaginings and brand new tracks from Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records artists Guante and See More Perspective.  Loosely based around Guante’s critically-acclaimed 2008 release ‘El Guante’s Haunted Studio Apartment’, this album finds producer See More Perspective taking Guante’s sound into darker, funkier, weirder places.  The Halloween theme ties everything together, but the real message is something deeper: respect for the spirits, remembrance for the dead and an appreciation of life while it lasts. It’s also funky, however, with See More Perspective’s organic, danceable beats a definite departure from the archetypal Twin Cities hip hop sound. Between the groove-oriented production, the melodic deliveries of both emcees and the flat-out uniqueness of songs like the ‘80s-synth pop tribute “The Fourth Wall (Cellar Door Remix)” and the dynamic yet bittersweet “Dia De Los Muertos,” RETURN TO EL GUANTE’S HAUNTED STUDIO APARTMENT is the perfect Halloween soundtrack, though it’s sure to remain in constant rotation long after that.

“We released a version of this last Halloween, but in the chaos of touring, working on other stuff and just being busy we were never really able to push it as hard as we wanted,” Guante says.  “So we decided to add a few tracks and release it for free as a thank you to everyone who’s been so supportive this past year.  (Evil laugh).”

‘Return to El Guante’s Haunted Studio Apartment’ will be released October 27th on Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records. It will be available for free download until Friday 13th, November 2009. To download the album link here.