I let my tape rock

Hoist the boom box on your shoulder and turn up local rapper Spikaboxxx

by Amber Schadewald

As the hip-hop community in Minneapolis grows, females in the scene still aren’t quite getting the same attention as the boys, but Spikaboxxx says she’s not bitter about it.

“I’ve just got to get in where I fit in,” she said.


Title: “Into the City”
Label: Rautnon Industries

Easing into the scene, Spika paired up with her friend Indigo awhile back to form the hip-hop duo Bloody Black Eyes.

“Working with Indigo is better than having 10 guys back me up,” she said.

Unfortunately, being one of the guys still seems to be a plus when trying to get your voice – or your beats – heard, meaning a lot of quality hip-hop still gets overlooked.

But with her debut solo album, “Into the City,” Spikaboxxx proves herself a gal worth paying attention to.

While Minneapolis claims some prized female MCs – Desdamona, Maria Isa, Dessa – none compare to the stylings of Spikaboxxx.

Fast to slow, intimate to tough as hell, Spikaboxxx’s “Into the City” features a bit of rock, some synthesizers, a few brass instruments and bitchin’ vocal harmonies. The variation might throw you off for a bit, but take a second – she’ll bring you back around.

Spika says her variety comes from growing up in a city with such eclectic musical tastes; Spika herself used to play in a punk band. For her, “Into the City” is her life in musical form, years of poetry turned into lyrics.

Like the best locally produced music, Spikaboxxx sounds smooth, without fake-Washington-apple shiny that major labels like to sell. A few of the tracks have a little too much clutter and one or two get a bit whiny, but overall it sounds real, raw.

While listening to her first track, “Testify,” a head-bob is unavoidable. Vaguely audible influences from old school rappers weave in and out among the more obvious evocations of divas from a decade and a half back. The album would sound great blaring from a boom box on your shoulder.

Her dry vocals hit the mic with such ease, it’s as though she’s simply spittin’ her raps in the passenger seat of your car, tellin’ you a quick rhyme on the way to the grocery store.

Although a majority of the album is up-tempo, it still makes you wanna sit back and try to look as cool as she sounds.

The song “Player Hater’s Tea Party,” featuring local artist NinjaGator (also the album’s producer), is an in-your-face anthem about the labels people give one another. Fused with frustration, she screams among the church bells ringing in the back of the track, “You would love me, you would hate me,” sounding similar to the anger in Kelis’ song “Caught Out There.”

“Dirty Hands Prayer” slows it down, allowing Spikaboxxx’s soulful voice to stand alone with the light tap of the high hat. She’s like Corinne Bailey Rae or Alicia Keys, minus the NutraSweet industry coating. Her songs have the feel of a quiet conversation.

Spikaboxxx CD Release Party with Indigo, Bloody Black Eyes, Mavin MC, DJ Shock B, NinjaGator; B-girl dance-off with prizes

WHEN: 10 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Nomad World Pub, 501 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis
TICKETS: $5, 21-plus

While the hip-hop charts might frequently be littered with lady MCs, none are as appealing or as genuine as the sound and lyrics of the hometown diva. Spikaboxxx can join the respectable crew of female musicians in the Twin Cities with confidence, bringing along an album well worth 40 minutes of your time.