Heiruspecs heart Central High, kids going to college

The live hip-hop group is throwing a big gig for its new scholarship.

The Heiruspecs like hanging out — and giving back.
PHOTO COURTESY CAMERON WITTIG

The Heiruspecs like hanging out — and giving back. PHOTO COURTESY CAMERON WITTIG

Jay Boller

WHAT: The Heiruspecs Scholarship Fund Concert FEATURING: Sims, Adam Levy, Carnage, Mayda, Lucy Michelle, Martin Devaney, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman WHEN: Thursday, Feb. 25, 7 p.m. WHERE: Central High School Auditorium, 275 Lexington Parkway N., St. Paul TICKETS: $10 student/ $16 general On-the-spot and off-the-cuff at the semi-crowded Java JackâÄôs Coffee Café in south Minneapolis, Felix of Heiruspecs laid out a freestyle pitch for his groupâÄôs scholarship gig. âÄúThey say itâÄôs cliché that everybody wanna spit knowledge/And I say the same, but send kids to college/We tryinâÄô to do that, weâÄôre trying to raise a little bit of funds, and anyway itâÄôs all about the fun/I ainâÄôt go to college, that doesnâÄôt mean that you shouldnâÄôt/Heiruspecs will be there so donâÄôt say that you couldnâÄôt/Even if itâÄôs five bucks you should take it/WeâÄôre tryinâÄô to throw a show on Thursday so you can make it.âÄù Despite Kanye âÄôs best efforts, rappers still care about college. So much so that St. Paul hip-hop staples Heiruspecs are throwing a charity concert for their alma mater, St. Paul Central High School, as part of the groupâÄôs new eponymous scholarship fund, one that aims to aid Central grads as they go on to college. Heiruspecs, formed in 1997 in teacher Red FreebergâÄôs advanced recording class, have gone on to become one of the Twin Cities premier live hip-hop acts. Central has long boasted a reputation for emphasizing the arts, offering course tracks catered to studentsâÄô interests. In recent years the school has spawned local music notables Lucy Michelle, Mayda, St. Paul Slim and Martin Devaney, among others. âÄúWe believe strongly that because we came out of the arts program there, it propelled us to a place we canâÄôt really imagine,âÄù says Chris âÄúFelixâÄù Wilbourn, Heiruspecs emcee and 1998 Central grad, adding that he hopes the scholarship program can propel current students even further. The program in question is a joint effort between Heiruspecs and the St. Paul Central High School Foundation, a nonprofit that assists Central grads in their post-secondary endeavors. Being the first year, Felix envisions a modest yield for the fund, somewhere in the ballpark of $5,000. âÄúIn my dreams IâÄôd like to make $40,000,âÄù he said, noting that the group is approaching the fund from a long-term perspective. A stellar list of performers and collaborators should help the eventâÄôs draw, a bill that includes rapper Sims of Doomtree , folker Lucy Michelle , Honeydogs frontman Adam Levy and even St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman . âÄúObviously he will not be rapping or singing at the show,âÄù Felix said of Coleman. âÄúBut if he would like to, I wonâÄôt stop him.âÄù Coleman, apparently quite the âÄôSpecs fan, formally decreed Dec. 22 as Heiruspecs Day in 2007, in commemoration of the groupâÄôs decade of service. Felix wistfully remembers his groupâÄôs late âÄô90s infancy within CentralâÄôs walls, saying he and his bandmates were all pimple-faced nerds, whether theyâÄôll admit it today or not. âÄúAnd we were hungry,âÄù he adds, recalling countless coffee shop gigs that later helped pave the way for the Twin CitiesâÄô decade-plus hip-hop boom. Four LPs and several national tours later, theyâÄôre relative greybeards of the scene at just 25 to 30 years old. With this inaugural scholarship push, Felix and fellow Heiruspecs, including bassist Sean âÄúTwinkie JigglesâÄù McPherson , a teacher himself at McNally Smith, are looking to cultivate a legacy deeper even than a careerâÄôs worth of McPhersonâÄôs bass grooves.