Growing up in Albert Lea, a small town in southern Minnesota, the least common thing to pursue is a career in music; or art in general.
The Activists began their journey as high school students freestyling on the way home from basketball games, but soon became totally immersed in hip-hop culture.
Each comes from different musical backgrounds, with Quincy leaning toward the old school and Shaw toward new school, but this dichotomy is what sparked the early inspiration.
Since the group’s inception, their goal has been to bridge the gap between substance and familiarity, while also resurrecting the art of lyricism. Ranging from haunting rap ballads to lighthearted anthems, the arsenal of these two is limitless.
WIth local director Matt Genesis and DP Marcus Taplin behind the camera, the duo sent a powerful message in their music video “Empty” that cannot be ignored.
Interview with The Activists
Who are The Activists and what is your mission?
We are a local hip-hop duo that consists of Tyler Shaw a.k.a. Slagz and Miles Erdman a.k.a. Adam Quincy. Our mission is to bring truth and content to hip-hop while still making it audibly pleasing; to build a platform big enough to shed light on the topics we discuss and help those who do not have that platform, while still staying true to ourselves and the music.
Who writes lyrics and who does production?
All of our lyrics are written and recorded by us and engineered by Casey Golden at GoodLook Studios in NE Minneapolis. The process is different with each song. We’ve worked with many local and international producers including ADOTHEGOD, who produced “Empty” and AndreOnBeat.
Are there any disadvantages, expectations, or judgments toward white musicians who are pursuing a rap music career?
This is a topic we could discuss for hours. I think there is a stigma surrounding hip-hop that all of it is the same and only discusses such and such. With that, it’s also known as a black genre. Black people originated the genre and it’s important that any hip-hop artist pay homage to its creators and know that we/they are guests of the culture.
It’s more common to see a white rapper today, but there will always be a stigma around it and that’s ok. Our goal is to bring people together and this is the best way we know how to do it. From the beginning, we’ve been working to change that stigma one person at a time and let people know that hip hop is much more than the surface and that there are other artists with similar goals as us.
MGK or Eminem?
Em has always been the goat for both of us.
Name a better candidate for President than Donald Trump.
Jordan Peele, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Betty White… shall I continue?
Explain the message you are hoping to get across in the song and video for “Empty”.
With social media and so many ways to access news on social and political issues, there’s still too many people turning a blind eye to what’s still going on (the ski masks). Like I said before, our goal is to create a platform for people who don’t have one.
Ultimately, we want to start a conversation. The video may be explicit and hard to watch to a certain extent but so is the truth. If people disagree with the content, we would be more than happy to sit down and have a dialogue about it.
How can music be used to make a positive change?
Many ways. It’s not always the lyrics in the music or the videos that create the change. We just happen to make songs that speak of certain topics. Often, once some of these artists create a big enough platform they’re able to give back to their communities by starting foundations, speaking to the youth and other various activities that the media doesn’t speak of.
Also, people feed off passion, emotion, and energy. That’s why hip hop is at its peak right now as far as relevancy. The youth connect to the music, not always based off the content, but the feelings they get from the sounds they hear. It’s just as much about how you say something as what you are saying. We’re just trying to tie together all the above.
Other than The Activists, who is your favorite undiscovered talent in Minnesota?
Mr. Newz, FREE DOM, Jairo Campos.
What can listeners expect from you next?
We’ll continue to do more local shows, like our headline at Honey tonight. We’ve been in the studio working on our next project Friday the XIII that we’re looking to release later this year. More videos will be coming soon as well. You can reach out to us and follow us on Instagram @theactivists and Twitter @XIIIActivists.