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The Hip-Hop butterfly effect in Minneapolis

Minneapolis based artist Vlad G on his 26th birthday

Instagram (@therealvladg)

The city of Minneapolis has endured a great deal within the last year and a half. So much so, the world was put on notice to how strong the community here is. From the shock of CoronaVirus in its first wave to the passing of George Floyd, those living in Minneapolis had a long road ahead. A Minneapolis native, artist Vlad G, sat down with me for a conversation on healing through art and community.

What does southside Minneapolis mean to you?

Southside Minneapolis to me is all the beautiful aspects of Minneapolis being brought together. From the amazing art community, the diverse people, the great city vibes and also beautiful landmarks like the Minnehaha falls, Lake Nokomis, and Bde Maka Sa. There’s a lot of different elements but all the different communities and people define the Southside.

How have the open mics been?

The open mics have been great. We’ve helped some musicians with performing, starting off their music journey, and also helped get some underrated local acts on big stages. It’s really been fun to see the growth within the artists and that community.

Favorite track off the album?

My favorite one to rap is OG 95. But my favorite track on the album is “4 Da Fam”, I had goosebumps recording that track and to be able to honor my mom and my big sis who passed made that track really special to me.

Vlad G had told me he really started recording music only one year ago, looking for a different medium of expression for all that he had to offer. He had originally been and still is interested in becoming a producer, as he was a percussionist when he was younger. Being a multi stemmed artist in crafts like poetry and paintings as well, Vlad G took on another one of his passions in Hip-Hop. Hailing from the southside, Vlad has released his debut project, “IV SOUTHSIDE”. With themes of loyalty, self awareness and unconditional love. The album focuses heavily on Vlad’s neighborhood in the southside and how he will always have love for it through thick and thin.

Vlad allows us to get a glimpse at his experiences through his bouncy storytelling ability and smartly placed bars. He sounds comfortable on the mic despite this being his first project to be released, growing in this avenue of art is something he mentioned he wanted to do more after letting this album breathe for a bit. Through the first two tracks I understood that Vlad G was ready to make it known that he is on the scene with the grit in his delivery.

The track “OG 95” catches your attention right away with its influence from one of Vlad’s favorite artists, ASAP Rocky. The album is set up nicely with its pacing and direction to an end goal. Through the first quarter of the album, we are able to understand southside for the beautiful community that it is through the pride that Vlad talks about it with. We then are able to hear who Vlad was growing up through a lyrically impressive tale of whims and woes through his years. The tempo and feel of the tracks are still upbeat but in a more laid back and subtle understanding. Vlad ends his project in a very introspective and appreciative lens. The distinction between the last two tracks on the album is something I enjoyed very much with themes of his own demons and harsh realities and the love for his Mother & Sister.

A trend in this debut album that I love is the conversational aspect through the interludes we hear on the album. Vlad is able to tell his story completely in his endeavors, struggles and hopes. The authenticity of that is felt through every track.

“4 Inspiration Interlude”

We hear him say how his spirit was broken due to the events of George Floyd passing right next to his home.

“Then the George Floyd murder happened right on the southside, blocks away from where I grew up. Riots, the National Guard being deployed, that all killed my spirit.”

He then states how he wanted to channel his emotions and state of mind through his work as a creative, and how other creatives are probably going through the same thing.

“But then that realization that I might not be the only creative feeling that way ended up inspiring the open mic me and Kobi created at Urban Light.”

This led us into talking about his community outreach through the art form of Hip-Hop. Himself and his close friend Kobi were able to team up with the “Urban Lights” record store to put on open mic nights for any MC, singer or poet to have their time on a stage. This community gathering in the time that it was needed the most, through an art form they all cared so deeply for, allowed inspiration and opportunity within individuals that are like minded.

It provided a release, a safe space for anyone who wanted to come and take part. The Urban Lights record store owner Tim, has a big part to do with that as Vlad stated Tim is “all about growth”. He mentioned how the “Hip-Hop butterfly effect” was able to take off and curate an extremely fun and amazing opportunity for anyone with a pen. That stirred a lot of love among the people that were now introduced to each other from these events.

Networking, friends and practice is found at a place that gives you stage time that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. I myself have attended a few of these open mic nights as an MC and a fan of Hip-Hop and yes, it is absolutely as cool as it sounds.

“4 DA FAM”

The album closes out with one of the most beautiful tracks I have heard recently. Back to the authenticity in Vlad G, it’s undeniable. Whenever art is personal enough to the creator, it will cross over to some members in the audience and Vlad G is an example of that right now for those looking to find a local artist as real as they come in whatever avenue he pursues.

He talks about the passing of his Mother and Sister, in their loving memory with a beautiful chorus that is the perfect closer for who he is doing this for. The track features vocals from local artist K-Tonez.

Through his love for Hip-Hop comes his love for poetry, writing and performing it as well. Vlad G is great at putting things together. Events, words, projects, and people to be specific. He has this very honest nature in his demeanor that allows you to connect with him from the time you meet.

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