Hip-Hop Happenings

by Jordan Bissell

So, we’re changing things up a bit this week. Senior Staff Writer, Paul Whyte, and I have decided to trade columns for this issue. I am not the end all of experts about all forms of music, but I spent a lot of years booking, hosting, and performing hip-hop shows in Duluth, so it seemed appropriate to write a piece about local hip-hop. This piece is not focusing on one specific artist, but instead offering you an overview of what’s happening in the local hip-hop scene currently. I will include the disclaimer that there are many more note worthy hip-hop artists that come from the Twin Ports area, but this is whom has new things in the works, big shows coming up, and newest projects released (that we know of).

Nonfic
Duluth born and raised MC Nonfic, released a new single this week with local producer Danecdote. The two have been known to work together earlier in Nonfic’s hip-hop career, but this is the first track they’ve released together in about three years. Nonfic is known for working with a variety of producers, and has been performing in the area for about four or five years. Nonfic also released a track with local MC/producer JamesG about a month ago. Nonfic is currently working on his second full length album, he estimated it should be released by this fall. His first full length album “Worth The Work” included some music videos, and he mentioned there will more music videos with the upcoming album. He also hinted there will be an event in the works for July that he couldn’t share the details of with us yet, but look out for that, if you haven’t seen him live yet, I must say his stage presence and professionalism are worth experiencing. 

Low-Hi Funk
This funky duo includes MC C-Silence and DJ MidiEvil. The two have created large bodies of work prior to teaming up, C-Silence has released an enormous body of work on his own, and MidiEvil has been a part of various projects including but not limited to Strictly Hammers. C-Silence is known for impressive freestyles, what seems like an endless stream of thought provoking lyrics, and self-taught loop machine beats. MidiEvil is known for constantly evolving production work, including samples from an extremely diverse base, including everything from sampling local music stylings like Tin Can Gin, Mikey Talented, and The People Say Fox, to Anime show sound-bit samples, and more recently animal sounds. They recently dropped a four track EP called “Four Summer” featuring two instrumental tracks and two tracks with C-Silence rapping. The animal sounds are coming into play with the production of their next full length album, “Gamekeeper”, expected to be released by this fall.

Crimson
You may or may not know of Strictly Hammers, the fairly well known hip-hop duo of Duluth, with DJ MidiEvil and MC Crimson. They have always been known for including their local community anytime they can, and were really an integral part of the Twin Ports scene for many years. Crimson has personally organized a ton of shows, and also gone out of his way to put a philanthropic twist on a lot of said events, turning them into benefits and charities for many worthy causes. Lately, Crimson has been based out the Twin Cities, however a song he recorded in Duluth with DJ Thorough has recently debuted a music video, filmed in the Twin Cities by Hugh Simmons. The track is titled “Suburbia,” and can be found on YouTube. The track is part of his first solo album in the works, titled “Cake Eater.”

Jaze
One of the longest standing Duluth MC’s that is still heavily involved in the local scene, Jaze started out with a group called Kritical Kontact. Jaze has released many projects as a solo artist, one of which Paul Whyte reviewed in April, if you’re curious about it you can find the review of “Jaze Features Vol. 2” on our website. Most recently, Jaze dropped another EP titled “STFUNLISTEN Vol. 1”, which he said what inspired by the frustrating phenomenon when you try to show people new music, and they talk over it. Jaze also loves to get other people on stage, he’s not only an artist but a successful show curator and host. His next event is 2pac Night at The Red Herring Lounge, featuring Delgado, Jaze, Qunicy James, EddieDiction, Renegade, & Quid Deals. The event is in celebration of what would have been 2pac’s 46th Birthday, and is Friday, June 16th, at 9:30 pm, and is $5 cover, unless you wear 2pac gear, which will score you free entry.

Willie Diction
Known for appearing on various local projects, Diction is a talented MC, and an all around incredibly nice guy. He will be releasing his own full length album this fall, titled “Saturday Morning Cartoons”, produced by MidiEvil. This album will feature songs based on cartoon themes, and cartoon style cover art by Cristina Plascencia. 

Kat Fox
She isn’t Duluth’s only female hip-hop artist, but by far the most ambitious. Kat Fox appeared on the Duluth hip-hop scene a few years ago and has really made a name for herself. Kat Fox is known for unapologetic feminism and great lyricism. Watch out for yourself if you plan to get in a freestyle battle with this woman. She just announced a national tour with Twin Cities based MC, Christopher Michael Jenson (CMJ), including stops in Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, Colorado, and California. She also has a gig in Duluth coming up with MN’s Kristoff Krane, a well-known Twin Cities based hip-hop artist who hasn’t visited us in a fews years. The show is June 28th at The Red Herring Lounge at 9 pm, line-up also includes Kill the Vultures. 

JamesG
JamesG is an up an coming local artist who not only writes and performs as an MC, but also produces and records all of his own music. He also makes music under other monikers, some serious and some more as jokes. He likes to release one single at a time, to focus on promoting one at a time, while he builds a larger audience, I won’t focus on each, because this guys pumps out that much music on a regular basis. I’m personally hoping he does decide to make this body of work he’s created, into a full length album, so we have an excuse to do a more in depth album review in the future. If you’re curious check out James G, and his other monikers (S e m a j & Lil J Two Wraps from the 55) on SoundCoud. He also recently recently released a thirteen minute instrumental depicting the circles of life, definitely worth checking out. 

DJ Delgado
Delgado is a long time DJ to Duluth, and will be mixing tunes for the Grandma’s Marathon this weekend, out of the MN Power Pavilion during the race. He is also a featured DJ for the 2pac Birthday Show this Friday as mentioned above in the Jaze section. 

DJ Path Annu
Did you think Duluth didn’t dance? Well, you’re wrong. DJ Path Annu throws down great DJ sets in Duluth multiple times a week. One of his regular appearances is a residency at Carmody’s almost every Wednesday, called Beat Philosophy. He is known for creating a great atmosphere, that seems to get anyone and everyone present to get up and dance, (or at least a good head bob). He is also known for including a mixture of genres and eras, however focuses a bit more towards hip-hop specifically during Beat Philosophy. Beat Philosophy also often includes other DJ’s like Simon Nelson, Jamie Larson, and Kevin Craig.

Well, thanks for reading, and if you’re interested, please check out and support these local acts. Almost everyone listed above can be found online on Facebook, SoundCloud, and Bandcamp.