Lucien Parker. Photo by Kayla Dreessen

Amid a constant stream releases from national artists, here’s a list of locally-based rap and hip-hop artists that have steadily been providing heat through this extended winter.

Photo by Obsidian Photography

Jayso Creative

Last season’s Shut Up and Rap winner, Jayso Creative, proved her tenacity through several rounds of wins, and made the crowd roar throughout her winning streak. Her style is conscious with spikes of cockiness, reminiscent of Nicki Minaj, and she spits steady-yet-punchy bars similar to 21 Savage.

The Minneapolis rapper recently released a six-track, joint mixtape with Wisconsin-bred rapper Troy Left. In their first tease of the project, “Platinum Cities,” Jayso raps about staying on her grind over a Metro Boomin type beat. Other themes in the project include both gratitude for her city and ruthlessness in “For the Record,” as she spits, “your baby daddy see me in his dreams.”  

Although the joint, wavy project was released at the end of March, Jayso announced that a solo mixtape will be dropping on April 20th. In the meantime, she has already dropped a track inspired by “Love” with Destiny Roberts and a high-energy song to cruise or party to called “Drop Off.”

Photo by Kayla Dreessen

Lucien Parker

South Minneapolis hip-hop artist Lucien Parker is nothing short of versatile in his delivery and lyrical ability. Not only does he keep listeners’ attention with riffs of smooth singing mixed with a melodic trap flow, but his tracks are also packed with carefully crafted lyrics about profound love and the current political atmosphere. 

In an interview with Earmilk Media, Parker talked about what his latest song  “Round Me” means to him.

“It’s a code. It’s shape-shifting and maneuvering and working just a little bit harder to survive,” Parker told Earmilk. “It’s about my feelings towards our racial climate, and sprinkled within are some of my own traumatic experiences.”

With over 12,000 monthly plays on Spotify, it’s plain to see Parker’s reach has gone global. Last fall he performed in Amsterdam, and early this year his track “Impossible” was featured in a preview for a new Marvel show called “Cloak and Dagger.” Over the BNJMN produced track, Parker sets himself apart from others with lines about being more concerned about feeding those around him over obtaining materialistic items.

Photo by @elite.hoe

Hard_R

Minneapolis-based Hard_R was introduced to the scene in 2016 via a feature on  P.O.S of Doomtree’s emotional release of “Sleepdrone/Superposition.” Although, Hard_R is the Doomtree rapper’s son, P.O.S told Star Tribune that he wouldn’t have had his son on the track “if he didn’t already have his own flourishing sound.”

Two years later, and the teenage emcee has done nothing but continue to develop his youthful, yet aggressive sound and build a robust catalog. His SoundCloud page includes diverse collaborations, from his bouncy turn-up track, “Sauced Up,” featuring Gaines to his more serious reflection on pain and loneliness, “DAMAGE,” featuring Arvell Genius.

In his recent release, Hard_R successfully proves he’s “Running Everything.” The jazzy Mr. Carmack production gives off nostalgic, ’90s hip-hop vibes, and the fluid stream of bars on the boastful track is just as special as the throwback sound of the beat. In typical Hard_R fashion, there is a dark undertone to what might seem like a stunt track at first. Throughout the song he recites an “I don’t wanna die” ad-lib, and by the end he says, “Kill me I’ll just get more fans.”

Photo by Donny Jiang

R.A.D

R.A.D is an alternative trap-style rapper from Minneapolis who’s already opened up for several national acts this year, including Rico Nasty and Warhol.ss.

R.A.D’s tracks are often supported by out-of-this-world beats from frequent collaborator and locally-based producer Dro. A prime example of this being the chaotic track “ANGELFOOD,” where R.A.D repeatedly states “I ain’t the same as you” over a beat that was co-produced by Dro and sen 09. R.A.D proves range by countering chaos with calm, melodic and romantic tracks like “GET INTO.”

The same experimental spirit is carried out in R.A.D’s most-played hype track, “BITE,” which  is a powerful message to imitators that’s paired with endless, contagious ad-libs. In the matching visual by Dogfood Media, R.A.D rocks camo pants and confidently recites lyrics at abandoned, woodsy and residential locales. Lines like, “Only time I’m folding lately, when I’m making quesadilla,” showcase R.A.D’s quirky, fresh take on trap music that’s akin to songs like Jaden Smith’s “Icon.”

Photo courtesy of the artist

Soda Supreme

Brooklyn Park-based rapper Soda Supreme is no stranger to the local scene. However, up until last month, it had been a while since the artist released a full-length project.

Before last week’s release of NUMBER 5, Soda paid homage to his hometown of Brooklyn Park four years ago with the release of his fourth album called Brooklyn Park LP. His choice to rep the suburb he is actually from and not just claim Minneapolis is a testament to his down-to-earth style.

Soda shows he’s grounded and spreads positivity in both old and new tracks. In his 2014 release of “The Drought” featuring Chicago’s King Louie, Soda spits bouncy bars about hustling and carving his own lane. While, in “MOTIVATED” off his latest project, Soda inspires listeners with lines about going hard for his loved ones, both those living and those not here anymore. In the autotune-laced, Future-esque “DYLM” he wards of bad vibes by saying, “I can’t let this world take control of me, I can’t let these police get a hold of me.”

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