I’m a fan of hip-hop. It’s Dustin’s genre of choice. We both know a great number of locals who love it, too. But “hip-hop” and “Rochester” aren’t words typically spoken in the same breath. When it came to my attention some years back that there lies an underground hip-hop community right here in our city, I truly was surprised.
When starting this My Town My Music adventure, we wanted to provide the opportunity for our members to let us know what types of music they love, and what they would like to see come to our city. Our aim is to take that data and use it to help us make choices on which genres/artists we pursue.
What we have found is that there is a significant interest in hip-hop among our members. It doesn’t have a stronghold in our city by any means, or a lot of support, but we know there are enough hip-hop heads to warrant a full-on night dedicated to the artists and fans who love it most.
We also have come to know the artists in the area who want to perform locally. While we’ve worked with rap/hip-hop collectives, we haven’t yet dedicated a show solely to the genre. When The Bando Bunch reached out to us, we knew it was a great opportunity give rap lovers what they want. Thus, the Mac Irv show was born.
Mac Irv is Minneapolis born and raised. He started making rhymes before he hit double digits, forming a rap group at the age of nine, but athletic prowess in basketball soon took the majority of his focus, putting his love for making music on the sidelines. He showed a promising career in professional basketball, until a serious injury cut things short. He found his interest in music being reignited at the age of 25, and things haven’t slowed down since. Mac Irv has recently been on tour supporting Prof, and we’re pumped to have him on stage! Check out his latest video for “Maintain” below.
The lineup also includes:
Nimic Revenue, a new voice in the MN rap game and part of the LEVELS family, a clothing brand/record label out of St. Paul. (For you Rochester hip-hop heads, you’ll recognize the owner/co-founder Buddah Bless of Looney Mobb.)
Jae Havoc, a Rochester rhyme purveyor who has opened for the likes of Har-Mar Superstar and P.O.S—you can get to know more about Jae from our local artist spotlight we did a while back.
Hells Paradise, hard hitting lyricists who were formerly known as Med-City Republic and were also part of the K.i.D. crew. Get a taste of what they bring to the table with “Long Way To Go“.
Let’s get to know a few of the local artists/openers
We were able to talk to Treezy of The Bando Bunch; Bubz, Skip, and RiXX of Hells Paradise; and Jae Havoc ahead of Saturday night’s show, just to get a little insight on who they are and what they do:
Who are your biggest musical influences?
Treezy: I would have to say Dr. Dre and Em are my biggest musical influences. As I got into my teens, Tech N9ne was a big one as well. I got picked up on the fast flows from him for sure.
Jae Havoc: Gil Scott-Heron, 2Pac, El-P, Rage Against the Machine, Atmosphere
RiXX: There’s so many great artists I’ve been influenced by throughout the years. It’s hard to really pick and choose, but to name some currently on rotation I’d say J. Cole, Drake, Kendrick, Nipsey Hussle & Jay Rock.
Skip: There’s a lot of different artists/genres that base an influential roll on my music today, but I can’t pick one.. so I’ll tell you I’m always hyped to hear a “conscious” rapper speak their mind.
Rap in Roch: What are the strengths? The struggles?
Treezy: I would have to say the strengths are the diversity of the culture in this town, even though it isn’t too big. The struggles definitely are the lack of venues willing to put on rap shows.
Jae Havoc: The town is hungry for hip hop, it just doesn’t have a good regular venue for rap shows (and in general, really), and it doesn’t have a great track record for rap shows, so people just don’t expect much. I remember playing with P.O.S last year, and it brought some people down from Minneapolis. We just need to keep bringing down good acts and showing off our local talent. I mentored some fourth graders who were already pretty talented emcees, so the future is hopeful.
RiXX: Strengths: We’ve got a lot of talent here. If we can come together and support each other, we can put ourselves on the map.
Struggles: [Rochester] has not yet accepted the culture and what it could do for the city. We are always having to turn elsewhere for entertainment. I believe a show like this will help get things started.
What age did you start rapping?
Jae Havoc: I started really writing raps when I was 14. I also started learning how to make beats around the same time.
RiXX: I started writing music at the age of 14. Thanks to the big bro Lil Crazed who got me started with music.
Skip: 14-15 is when I came about rapping my own lyrics. In my early years, dancing was my actual first groove into hip hop, but nonetheless hip-hop/R&B records were always on rotation as a young child. I would look up rapper lyrics—for instance, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony or Twista—and try to tongue twist as fast as they could.
Do you have a specific writing process?
Treezy: I honestly just put beats on until I’m vibing with one, then I start writing a hook first, usually. For the verse, I pretty much just rap with the beat, adding little by little until it is done.
RiXX: A lot of artists might think this is crazy, but I actually write better when the instrumental is off. I’d run it through a couple times, turn it off, then start writing, ‘cause I’d have it memorized and playing in my head. Once I’m finished, I’ll practice the verse or hook with the instrumental and edit where I need to make sure it all fits.
Skip: Let the beat go, make sure my vibes are right, and no distractions. I have to put the phone on silent and leave it alone. Sometimes I’ll go through vicious writer’s blocks, and it’ll take me hours to come up with something; then, there are other times where it hits me, just like that. I’ve learned when I travel more, I can actually free my mind and be inspired to work on new craft in a matter of minutes. Travel kids, it’s good for you.
What/when was your first performance?
Jae Havoc: I first performed on stage at 17 at Westfire (RIP) at a 22nd birthday party rap show. I remember meeting one of Slug’s [of Atmosphere] old drinking buddies at the bar.
RiXX: My first big stage performance was at a nightclub in the cities called “Epic”. I was super nervous ’cause this was our first big show with almost 1500+ in attendance. I was worried I’d forget my lyrics, but it all worked out. Shoutout to Trilogy for rocking with us and giving us these opportunities.
Skipp: I can’t exactly tell you when, but most of my shows I’ve done were with my brother Crazed and the team. Performing at a very young age really helped me work on my stage presence throughout the years. Big ups to Crazed.
What’s one surprising fact about yourself?
Treezy: Even though I’m a rapper, I would one day love to bring a rock presence to the stage with me. I’ve always had a passion for rock music. I recently started playing guitar to make that come true.
Jae Havoc: I’m double jointed in my elbows.
Bubz: I was one of the first Asian rappers I knew—true story.
Rochester has spent far too long waiting for its next rap ruckus. Want to come party with us?