To kickoff a string of planned summer releases, Nazeem and Spencer Joles dropped the anime and Wu-Tang Clan-inspired track and visual called“Rock Lee.”

As longtime anime fans, Spencer decided to fuse an “intense and inspirational,” scene-setting sample from Naruto into a beat he crafted for Nazeem and himself. However, the beat was shelved for a while as lyrical inspiration ran dry.

That was up until the duo got the opportunity to meet Wu-Tang’s Raekwon the last time he was in town. Afterwards, the south Minneapolis rappers fed off boom bap elements, Kung Fu imagery and Raekwon inspiration as they dusted off the beat and fluidly rapped back and forth, Spencer explained. Their song-making style is “a very fluid, synergetic, symbiotic process,” Spencer added.   

A visual representation was a natural next step for “Rock Lee.” The soulful, genre-bending artists linked with Twin Cities-based videographer Nate P. Plans to collaborate on a video were already in the works, and Spencer felt that Nate’s new school, hyper-edited and colorful video direction would create a fresh representation of their retro rap-inspired song.

For the shoot, Nazeem and Spencer Joles friends and fans gathered in the parking lot of Kmart off Lake Street. The crowd dances it out in between scenes of the artists spitting bars as they walk around other Minneapolis staples like Cup Foods, Riverside Plaza and muraled walls.

Thoughtful, superimposed clips of Rock Lee are also featured in the visual. Besides staying on theme, the smiles, spontaneous dancing and positive spirits are perfectly captured by Nate, who wrapped up the shoot in two hours.

“Nate’s a super chill director and the way he goes at doing things is very free form, so while we were shooting the video we got to basically have a lot of fun and be super relaxed,” Nazeem said.

“I definitely think this video shows our personality the most out of any of them so far,” Spencer added.

Ironically, as lyrics about never fitting in echo, extras can be seen coordinating in Nazeem and Spencer Joles’ new merch. “We just want to put on for the universal underdog,” Nazeem said. And, now all the underdogs can unify, as the merch has been officially released via Instagram. What makes the alternative hip-hop pair’s merch stand out is their delivery method, as local customers orders will be fulfilled by bike and hand-delivered to doorsteps by Spencer and Nazeem.

Beyond merch and summer singles, Nazeem and Spencer Joles are also wrapping up an album set to be released this fall. Spencer said the upcoming project carries sonic and stylistic inspiration from Frank Ocean, Alabama Shakes and MF Doom.

“We are very curious to see how public reacts to it,” Nazeem added.

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