The best 14 Minnesota based free albums you may have missed.

With the easy accesibility to microphones, recording equipment and youtube, practically everyone is making some kind of music. This isn’t bound to the state of Minnesota, but recently it’s become a widely talked about topic here. It is tough to weed out the gems from the mediocre especially with new music being released daily. Here are a few albums that very talented artists whom call Minnesota have put out for free that you may have overlooked.

1. PROF – King Gampo

If you haven’t been living under a rock since early 2011, you’ve probably heard this album. But just in case you haven’t it features Rhymesayers staple Brother Ali, MTV’s Riff Raff and production from Ant of Atmosphere.


2. Reeves Junya – Music Is My Girlfriend

With features from Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover), Wiz Khalifa, Tyga, Rocky Diamonds and a slew of other great locals Reeves’ sophomore solo release followed up “Why Isn’t This An Album?” with fury. Download “Music Is My Girlfriend” for free here.


3. Kristoff Krane – fanfaronade

With a “Buy it now” price on his bandcamp you can feel free to pay as you like, or download it free. He recently did an interview with the City Pages Gimme Noise blog about the album. It features Crescent Moon, Sage Francis, Sadistik, Buck 65, Illogic, and more.


4. I Self Devine – LA State of Mind

Though the album is titled LA State of Mind, I Self Devine is a St. Paul, Minnesota native and one of the few well-known emcees from the east side of the river. This free ep was released for free courtesy of Rhymesayers in part as a promotional effort for his amazing album The Sound of Low Class Amerika.


5. KnoX – Martyr Music

KnoX is a humble dude, with a thoughtful process and his music reflects that. Martyr Music is the raw follow-up from his soul-driven KnoX Tale. It features Gene Poole,  Mike the Martyr, and many more.


6. Freez & Mike Frey/Mike Frey – You Are Here/Burnt Out

These are two people who are extremely underrated in the music scene. I’m really not sure why because Mike Frey is a great producer with beats ranging from funky, low-rider types to beautiful symphony infused jazz and Freez has a way with words and honesty with a powerful tone. “You Are Here” features P.O.S., Mike Mictlan, Mavin MC, Big Zach, Unicus, Alicia Steele and Franz Diego. “Burnt Out” includes features from Greg Greese, Alicia Steele, Just Nine, and a couple more tracks with Freez.


7. Ecid – Swagger Wagon

Swagger Wagon courtesy of Fill in the Breaks and Ecid was one of my favorite releases from FITB in 2011. It features Awol One, Derril Pounds and Leif(Kolt).


8. Mike the Martyr & Aquafresh – In Search of the Wonderous Punch

This comes from Minneapolis based label Long D.O.E. producer/emcee Mike the Martyr and California emcee Aquafresh. This album was featured on the Source’s website, which says a lot about it from the get-go. With the production quality and lyrical play they bring it makes sense why they were an obvious choice for the handful of Minnesota based acts at Soundset this year. Download “In Search of the Wonderous Punch” here.


9. O-Lay & Diatonic – Meanwhile

O-Lay & Diatonic are a group I heard about not too long ago, thanks to JK Clothing. What I heard I really enjoyed, and kept listening then they released this and now have a solidified fan. You can expect a lot more from these two in years to come.


10. Homeless – Patience Makes Lighter

The first time I saw Homeless was back in 2010 when he opened for Prof at the Varsity Theater with Just Riley as the group Mnemosyne. I really enjoyed his openness, self-depreciation, and vocabulary. This is an older release but definitely recommended for one of those dark, artsy, rainy days.


11. Botzy/VA – My Friends and I/The Best Love is Free Vol. 3

Botzy, who is the front man/rapper for the Minneapolis group Culture Cry Wolf proves to be an impressive one man act on his solo album “My Friends and I”. Like many other artists on this list Botzy is honest and not afraid to share how he’s feeling. His album features Wesley Opus, 2% Muck, a track with Culture Cry Wolf and many more. The Best Love is Free is an annual event held every year at The Fineline Music Cafe to celebrate love, music, art and all of the wonderful things life has to offer. Every year they bring great live acts out to perform and they also as a bonus, put together a musical compilation of artists with passion. The latest years album features St. Paul Slim/Last Triumph, Astronautalis with Tegan Quin (From Tegan and Sarah), Mayda, Polica, Wize Guyz, Sean Anon, Soulcrate Music, Kristoff Krane, Prof, MaLLy, Culture Cry Wolf and many more.


12. Orikal Uno – +1

This is one of many of Orikals free releases on his bandcamp page, and it was hard to choose which to post. I highly suggest checking out more of his stuff if you enjoy these tracks. Orikal Uno’s +1 album features Sab the Artist (A.K.A. Musab), Mac Lethal, and Prof.


13. Tavonte Woods – Patiently Waitin’

At the young age of 17 Tavonte Woods embodies drive and motivation. He recently performed with KiD InK and is scheduled to perform with Kirko Bangz this summer. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is Minnesota’s “Next Up”. Download “Patiently Waitin'” here. 


14. Duenday – Duenday

Duenday represents the sunny-side of hip-hop, with funky beats that force you to tap your toes and nod your head or command you to get up and dance. Their self titled solo album is currently available for free via their bandcamp site and it features Sean Anon, Lipset, Unicus, Manny Phesto, and Big Zach.

There are plenty other great albums out there I myself may have overlooked, if you feel that’s the case leave a suggestion in the comment section.

An interview with the hip-hop revivalist: Orikal Uno

Orikal Uno (whom has been voted Saint Paul’s best kept secret for the TCHHA/Twin Cities Hip-Hop Awards in previous years) has remained somewhat a local secret but is beginning to earn the cred he has been deserving of. He is one of the few rappers I know in constant “grind-mode”, whether it be painting murals, performing at local venues, or recording some new track, with some other local geniuses. The man is busy and has a lot to show for his hard work. An artist who you should put, and keep on your radar for years to come. Ladies and gents’ met Orikal Uno, the man with the plan to bring hip-hop back to its true roots with passion and determination.

Orikal Uno

UG: What is your first memory of the Twin Cities hip-hop scene?

O: Probably the first time I painted a train. I was a pre-teen and surrounded by hip-hop heads. As far as the music goes, my homies were the first Rhymesayers street team, and a Micranots show is one of my memories at the 7th street entry. I was probably 12 years old at the time and it was an all ages show.

UG: How did you get your start as an artist?

O: I had this little karaoke machine that took cassette tapes. I’d put on my favorite songs and record my raps on that thing. From there, I got a keyboard that would play pre-recorded drum-loops, and we’d do songs over that. I got my first digital microphone from a game I got at the dollar store. I used that mic and Magix Music Studio for my first 2 albums haha. One channel would record as nothing but noise, and one channel was vocals. So I learned how to copy and paste the “voice” channel over the “noise” channel when I was like 13 for clearer vocals.

UG: Tell me a little about your label, Graff Roots Media.

O: I established Graff Roots in 2006. The name comes from how I got involved in hip-hop music, which was via graffiti. I treat music like graff, get your name everywhere, paint/write with different artists, and do the best work you possibly can with what you got at the most high-profile spots.

I don’t really consider us a “record label” – more like a collective of artists that represent Music, Art, Culture and Style. We got some plans up our sleeve for the next year, and if executed properly it’ll do very good things for hip-hop here in Minnesota.   We’re more of a movement than a label. We’re B-Boys and B-Girls progressing/preserving the culture and keeping that true hip-hop relevant. I like to consider us the last of a dying breed, that we’re hoping to revive.

UG: What projects do you currently have in the works?

O: My debut studio album “Uno” dropped last year. I teamed up with Dispute One and we go by “OnePlusOne” – We have a mixtape done and recorded, we’re just waiting for the final mix/blend from our DJ. Once we get that, we’ll be releasing that free. Orikal&Ganzobean have had a complete album recorded and in the vault for a while now. I also have albums almost complete with Chris Goodwin and West End Productions. Besides that, I’m working on a project with Adbeatz out of Chicago. As well as a mixtape with Tully Stockton. I stay busy in the studio.

UG: If you had to sell yourself in 3 songs or less, which 3 songs would you chose to represent your style?

O: “On This Day” – “Get Away (So Stressed Out)” – “Rumfaced”

UG: Who do you consider and inspiration, and why?

O: In life, my Mom. She flipped her life around with very limited resources to raise me. Did it all on her own. I’m very proud of her. In music, a lot of great musicians from a lot of different genres have influenced me. Good music is my inspiration. As far as making dreams a reality, Rhymesayers are very inspirational with how they came up. Especially as a Minnesota kid. I watched them go from local to worldwide every step of the way.

UG: You’ve worked with a ton of amazing people, who were some of your favorites?

O: Sab The Artist, Prof, Mac Lethal and Dispute One (a/k/a Extreme) – I have my reasons for each of them.

UG: Who do you dream of someday working with?

O: Prince. Quincy Jones. DJ Premiere. Twista. Dr. Dre. Devin The Dude. Slug and Ant.

UG: What is your biggest accomplishment?

O: Being the first of my family to get a college degree.

UG:Tell me about your thoughts on hip-hop today, vs the scene 10 years ago

O: It’s different in various ways. The internet is a major factor. Too many people have easy access to making music. I remember when studio time actually cost something, and people who were dead serious about music would practice for days on end for those couple of hours in the studio. Now it’s like anybody with a computer program can be comfortable with half-assing a song and wonder why they don’t have a fan base. I also feel like a lot of the values of the hip-hop I grew up in are fading away… Too many rappers rapping about nothing, not enough breakdancers honing their skills on the floor. I could ramble about this for days…

UG: What barriers are you most proud for overcoming?

O: Being able to freestyle, and having my own style in graffiti. 2 barriers i’d like to overcome are my stutter in interpersonal conversation, and my type-one diabetes. lol.

UG: What are your goals for your self and your music?

O: World domination. Comfortable income for me and those I care about. And never-ending progression in my music. Never bottoming out.

UG: What’s your advice for younger kids who want to get involved?

O: Study whatever culture you wish to be involved with. Learn who’s responsible for what you want to do and why they made it great. Be yourself and be proud of who you are. Respect your elders, but don’t be afraid or intimidated to surpass them, respectfully. Talk less and work more. If it’s rap, freestyle more. If it’s art, sketch/paint more. Stay humble. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, just make sure you’re asking the right people. PAY YOUR DUES.

You can download lots of his music (most for free) on his bandcamp site, and stay up to date with his facebook fanpage and twitter @OrikalUno 

The interview with the biggest Nobuddie you’ll ever hear.

Don’t let the title fool you, Nobuddie is definitely not a nobody. He’s currently spawning into a Minnesota mainstay with a growing following, much like a young Prof. He’s been very active in the local show scene, performing with the likes of Joell Ortiz, Mac Lethal (multiple times), Culture Cry Wolf, St. Paul Slim, Face Candy, Long D.O.E., Ernest Rhodes, B.Dolan, Guante, Ecid, BK One, Mr. Dibbs, and countless others. His live shows are great, his charisma flies right off the stage and demands your attention. He took some time out of his busy schedule, following his first headlining show at 7th St. entry to do an interview for uglegends. Read a little more about the man behind the glasses who has enough audacity to call himself Nobuddie right here:

UG: When did your love of hip-hop begin to manifest?
NB: I was a late bloomer, Hip hop really didn’t come into my life until I was 21. I’ll never forget it, it started in the funeral home in Babitt, Mn after my Grandmas funeral. I went downstairs by myself and started writing. Haven’t stopped sense.
UG: Who were your biggest influences while growing up?
NB: My Grandma, Kevin Garnett, Eminem
UG: You have a song called “Born and raised in Minnesota“, What city were you raised in?  How is the hip hop community there?
NB: Maple Grove, MN. 20 minutes west of Minneapolis. When I started hip hop I was living in dinky town. The Minneapolis hip hop scene is like no other. If you can “make it” out of there with the strong competition of artists you’ll be just fine.
UG: How did you come up with your name, Nobuddie?
NB: The name Nobuddie actually has 2 meanings behind it. I started as Unique and was in a group called The Nobuddies which consisted of Unique B Mc-c and Nimo the Hooligan. Nimo actually came up with the name I came up with the spelling. When I moved to AZ I dropped THE and the S and the name Nobuddie was born. I felt it was perfect for me since I was living in AZ not knowing any “buddie” other than a friends sister who i barely know. Just to make it clear since Facebook screws it up lol Nobuddie is one word!!!
UG: One thing you want to accomplish before you die?
NB: I want to do a song with Slug. Even if it’s never heard or used for anything. Reason behind that is after my Grandma passed I was introduced to Atmosphere’s music. It really grabbed a hold of me. I think I went a full year having nothing but Atmosphere playing in my car. I feel Slug is on some genius shit the way he writes stories. Its true inspiration. 
UG: You just played a near sold out show at the legendary 7th st entry, and brought your parents up on stage how did that go?
NB: My first headlining show and performance at 7th St Entry was truly amazing. It was cool to see artists like Out of Bounds, Ecid and St Paul Slim come out and support. My parents came on stage during my last song and danced for the crowd. It meant a lot to me it was the 4th show my parents have been to in 6 years. It was the coldest night of the year and still managed an amazing turnout!! A night i will never forget.
UG: How are they handling your local celebrity status?
NB: I think my parents are finally starting to realize I might have something going here and they can either support it or not but they will not be able to hide from it. Haha.
UG: What are your hobbies besides creating music?
NB: I’m a pet nerd. I have a weakness for dogs as well as salt water fish.
UG: Do you have any projects coming out soon?
NB: I always have a million things I want to put out but can never find ways to fund it however I will have a few things coming out in 2012.
UG: What’s your advice for younger kids, just getting into the hip-hop scene?
NB: Don’t rush it and if your under 18 work hard on your craft. The scene isn’t going anywhere. If you work hard on your craft you will be noticed!! Dreams never sleep if “music” is what you want than go get it. Don’t expect anyone to hand it to you!!! Everyone’s a rapper or DJ these days!! Prove why your better. Its a long road I’ve been doing it for 6 years and haven’t even scrapped the service in my eyes yet!!!!
Stay connected w/Nobuddie on Twitter, Facebook, and Soundcloud (there are some free downloads too)!

Mac Lethal – Irish Goodbye

Mac Lethal has been experiencing a huge buzz lately, thanks to a clever “pancake” video of him rapping while cooking pancakes, and to his blog “Texts From Bennet“. This guy is a true social media genius. He just dropped his newest album Irish Goodbye in perfect timing. The album is great, listen for free bellow or buy the album.

Mac Lethal – An ode to Charlie Sheen

After Charlie Sheens crazy public unraveling and bizarre interviews Mac Lethal released this rap about him. This has been one of the most entertaining media blitzes in the past decade and this rap does it justice.

Pale Kids Rapping fast

Speaking of Mac Lethal..
I’m sure many of you have seen the infamous George Watsky “Pale Kid Raps Fast” video somewhere by now. A couple other pale guys threw their hats in the rink and tried their version of rapping fast, faster, and even with asthma. Here’s all the big buzzed videos.

I’m curious to see who, you the people think, did the best job. Leave a comment if you’re listening.

Original – “Pale Kid Raps Fast” video by George Watsky:

“Pale Kid Raps Faster” – Mac Lethal:

“Pale Kid Raps Faster (With Asthma)” – Witness: