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Minneapolis producer Ace P shines light on Twin Cities hip-hop

When it comes to hip-hop, the north has something to say.
(from left to right) Reiki, Why Khaliq, Righteous Emcee, JuneThaKid, Juice Lord, Knucky, Ace P, PeaceGod, $aiku, and DJ Buster Bax outside of the 7th Street Entry for the “Things I Can’t Speak About” release showcase. Photo credit and courtesy of Bryant Slack @msphiphop.

A Minneapolis producer’s debut album argues that shifting the eyes and ears of hip-hop fans to Twin Cities-based artists has never been more crucial. 

Producer Ace P released “Things I Can’t Speak About” in January. After becoming a luminary in the Twin Cities through his extensive work with emcees and respected craftsmanship, Ace P assembled 11 of the hardest-hitting emcees Minnesota has to offer. This group of individual artists came together in Wu-Tang fashion to deliver a Twin Cities project that accurately represents the prevailing sound in Minnesota. 

The project features performances from Juice Lord, Righteous Emcee, Knucky, Why Kaliq, Vinny Crook$, JuneThaKid, $aiku, PeaceGod, Naj, Reiki and Bushido Chop. Often appearing on each other’s bodies of work as feature acts, the list of names on this album is a good place to start your dive into the burgeoning Twin Cities hip-hop scene. 

For every Griselda, there’s an Alchemist. For this collection of emcees, that’s Ace P. East Coast-influenced lyricism meets Ace P’s soulful drum breaks and darkly toned sample mixing.

Tracks on the album like “The Hustle,” “Vinny’s Interlude” and “The Family” display the late ‘80s boom-bap sample influence on Ace P’s specific style. The chemistry between the rappers and the producer on this album feels palpable.

Ace P credits the level of talent coming out of the Twin Cities and his relationships with the artists for the success of his debut album. With tracks on the album like “Patterns” and “Riskin Survival” garnering more than 4,000 streams, local hip-hop fans are keeping the album in rotation. 

“There’s so much depth of talent in the Twin Cities – you’ll find artists that are just insanely talented, professional and polished. For me, it was about finding artists who blend well within the subgenre that I work with in hip-hop,” Ace P said. 

“We were making history in the Twin Cities”

It requires a particularly tight-knit dynamic for an emotionally vulnerable album like “Things I Can’t Speak About” to work. With each artist lending their pen to the work of Ace P, the emcees visiting his studio found themselves growing stronger together.

“It was a lot of organizing and hand-selecting people for sessions, and it came together so organically. That translates to the project and how we have artists that are genuinely passionate about their craft and are poised and ready for the national scene,” Ace P said.

“Patterns,” with its rodomontade cypher behavior, highlights some of the best work from JuneThaKid, Juice Lord, Vinny Crook$, Knucky and $aiku.

JuneThaKid and Juice Lord said working with a producer like Ace P provided the artists with a sense of creative freedom. 

“I feel like the whole time we were recording ‘Things I Can’t Speak About,’ we were making history in the Twin Cities,” JuneThaKid said. “Ace puts you in a position where you feel comfortable to create freely. That’s something that’s underappreciated with a lot of people.” 

Collaborator Juice Lord echoed a similar sentiment.

“The album came together very organically, no egos. We created music that’s for the soul, for hip-hop lovers,” Juice Lord said. “There’s so much I could say, but this was an amazing experience; Ace P is my brother.” 

“We have a lot to say:” pushing the local scene 

Ace P is able to put his own finesse on a timeless sound within the realm of sample arrangement in hip-hop. Dusty drum breaks and gritty undertone allow Ace P to have a signature sound in the Twin Cities. 

“The goal is to keep carving out a niche for myself and my sound in sample-based beats, which I feel is having a resurgence. It’s not all that I listen to, but that’s the music I make. Making these classic beats that you feel like you’ve heard a thousand times but in the same way you know it’s an Ace P beat,” Ace P said.

This blend in style comes from the local hip-hop scene reaching its boiling point. 

“When one door closes, another one opens. I feel like that’s what we’ve seen in the local scene the last few years,” Ace P said. “There’s plenty of younger artists that are pushing the local scene in so many different directions, and it’s dope to see. The amount that the Twin Cities has been through, I feel like we have a lot to say.” 

Local listeners should look out for more projects and performances from these artists in the coming year. 

Juice Lord, who was featured on the album, will have his own album release showcase at the 7th Street Entry on March 13. The show will include performances from featured artists JuneThaKid and $aiku, who are also a part of the local group Basement Gang.

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