Cast deep into the back of the Spyhouse on Hennepin Ave, across the street from Fifth Element, we sat at the room’s center table. His girlfriend checked in and out on her phone while he and I wrote the final 4-bar exchanges for a song. In what felt like two hours, but was only a half, we finished the final verse of our song.
Wrapping up, he asks “So… why are you letting me… even be on this?” This, meaning the mixtape.
It was an obvious question, and should have been a given before we sat down to go to work. I stand absolutely nothing to gain by letting some kid from the burbs feature on a project of mine. I could’ve easily reached out to collaborate with a more staple name and brand, but it might’ve gone redundant in the features already amassed on the past mixtapes.
What it comes down to is the kid's brimming with potential talent. and if I throw my name in the hat of assholes who have limited his opportunities, then I’m no better than the whitewashed hip-hop elitism coursing through Minneapolis already.
“Good question…” I watched my words carefully. This isn’t a question I wanted to answer, because I knew if asked, I’d be cornered into a brutally honest response which I wasn’t sure if he was ready to hear. “After I taught the workshop you participated in, you reached out to me to feature on your song. I turned it down. So, figured to put the offer out there to collaborate on this, because when I was in your position, I emailed, called and reached out to artists in town as well- to maybe open up for them at a show, feature on a track, or something, anything. I’d reach out to a lot of artists for help and support, when I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing… and hardly any of them ever got back to me. Begrudgingly, every single one of them that didn’t get back to me… I never forgot. This city is the exact opposite in regards to what I’ve experienced in other artist communities. In Brooklyn, we’d collaborate, exchange numbers, commiserate, give each other guidance. In Milwaukee, everyone is seemingly down to offer help, or willing to book you for something at the drop of a hat. But here… it’s this.”
Detail wasn’t necessary at this point. We had an understanding of the “this”. I forwent the racial connotations, did delve into the politics, and left it at a point of “it’s up to you”.
Regardless of another community’s proactivity toward assisting artists, Minneapolis might damn near break your spirit to take another stage.
If this kid has any sense he’ll either remain in town to make the scene a better place than it already is… or run. If he wasn’t white, I’d advise him to take up the latter.