TWAIN – Central Standard Time (Rap)
TWAIN, a hip-hop recording artist from Chicago by way of Minneapolis, has finally released his latest full-length album, Central Standard Time.
His last release, The Gift of Discovery EP, came out in 2016. It led to shows at the historic Capri Theater, Penn State University, and the For the Love hip hop festival. He was also a nominee for the Twin Cities Hip Hop awards and founded and curated two concert series, A Night Over South in 2016 and Twin Cities Music Lounge in 2018.
Central Standard Time is a short, sweet collection of quality rap (with a bit of pop and r n’ b thrown in there as well). TWAIN’s lyrics weave together storytelling, autobiography, and wordplay in a way that is uniquely his own. Like his prior releases, the beats strike a good balance between classic and modern hip hop energy.
The entire album hinges on the title track. Like many of the songs, it is built around a deceivingly simple piano loop. The chorus is also very catchy, and the same can be said for “Summer Nights in Minneapolis.”
“Long Distance II” begins as a slow jam type thing before transforming into a more straightforward rap track. The attitude, effortlessness, and flow of “N.Y.O.B.” reminds me of Ludacris. There are some cool socially conscious moments as well, especially on “Changes” and the dialog that ends “Cross my Mind.”
James Rone – Quiet as Fists (Singer-Songwriter)
Minneapolis-based songwriter, performing artist, and educator James Rone has been around. Born and raised in Bristol, England and Springfield, Missouri, he moved to Minneapolis in his twenties to pursue a theater career. This blossomed into the Harbor Theater Group, a free theater company for Twin Cities teenagers.
Rone has also kept busy musically. His latest release, Quiet as Fists, is a breezy collection of folk and pop. Lead singles “Pearl” and “Under the Same Ceiling” give a good taste of its overall feel. Melodic “Reykjavik” is catchier than its name might indicate, and the gentle fingerpicking of “Far From Me’ is also a highlight.