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Friday
Oct 31st

Indigo, Junkyard Empire and Sha Cage release magnificent albums

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By Dwight Hobbes

Twin Cities music has received a refreshing shot in the arm over the past year. Three albums have been issued - count 'em, three - with intelligent, articulate, non-misogynist lyrics. We have Indigo and Junkyard Empire doing Hip-Hop and Sha Cage doing spoken word. And all of it is slammin'.
Indigo (left) performs at Hip-Hop for the Homeless, Triple Rock Social Club, 629 Cedar Ave. So. on the West Bank in Minneapolis Feb. 16. Sha Cage(middle) started out in the Twin Cities about ten years ago as an ensemble player with Pangea World Theater. MC Brihanu and Junkyard Empire may well be the most adventurous Hip-Hop outfit in either town.

Twin Cities music has received a refreshing shot in the arm over the past year. Three albums have been issued – count 'em, three – with intelligent, articulate, non-misogynist lyrics. We have Indigo and Junkyard Empire doing Hip-Hop and Sha Cage doing spoken word. And all of it is slammin'.

Kiri*Ke unleashes about the baddest Hip-Hop lady since Dessa. Standout cut: "World Wide Strike" with its nod to the Greek classic Lysistrata.

"Mothers, daughters, sisters, aunties, nieces, cuzins, grandmothers unite," go the lyrics. "The wind will start changing if the women stop banging/I'm calling out a worldwide strike/no one give up the pooni tonight/you'll get no more/till you stop . . . waging war."

See what I mean? You don't even have to like Hip-Hop to enjoy Indigo.

The beauty of it is that this disc, loaded with food for thought, will also get in your hips. Believe me, if you've yet to catch up with her performing at a club, Kiri*Ke is a fine introduction. For those who've seen her around, for instance at the annual B-Girl Be Summit, you're not the least bit surprised at how strong this album is. The material (seventeen cuts with no filler) switches up on textures and time signatures like it was lunch. And always, Indigo is dead on the case, salty delivery steadily nailing the sweet spot. See for yourself. Indigo performs at Hip-Hop for the Homeless, Triple Rock Social Club, 629 Cedar Ave. So. on the West Bank in Minneapolis Feb. 16.

Junkyard Empire may well be the most adventurous Hip-Hop outfit in either town, blending the genre into a seamless mix with avant-garde jazz that just won't quit. In fact, Reclaim Freedom couldn't be a more natural successor to the likes of The Last Poets themselves. The words are tightly woven into each cut's rhythm and the music is every bit as serious as the message.

As frontman MC Brihanu told Insight News, "Avant garde jazz and hip-hop are soul mates. Jazz was looked at as the music of the poor and disenfranchised. It tested the boundaries of society and pushed people out of their comfort level. Max Roach and even Coltrane used it to make statements about society as well. Hip-hop has followed the same path. [It's] the jazz of today."

Reclaim Freedom is sheer genius, pulling on the band's cast-iron music chops, pushing with Brihanu's irresistible-force poetry. As in, "Complex Crooks," which goes, "Witness the days of corporate welfare/45 million with no healthcare/but Fox News says that's all fair and balanced/They wanna silence my alliance while the government commits to violence/500 billion spent on defense/while 20 percent of the children live in poverty/It bothers me that robbery will put the hungry in prison/while CEOs stackin' dough just from robbin' the pensions."

Behind MC Brihanu the band mesmerizes. That's founder Christopher Robin Cox on trombone and keys, and Jaime Delzer (sax), Tony Blonigan (guitar), Ben "The Fury" Shaffer (bass) and Adam Katz (drums). Junkyard Empire is at Club Underground D.E.M.O. Showcase in Northeast Minneapolis Feb. 20, at 10:00 p.m.

What you gon' do with Sha Cage? She is a force of nature. Sha started out in the Twin Cities about ten years ago as an ensemble player with
 

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