As the Twin Cities continues to climb the national ranks as not only a musical destination, but a hot spot; the hip hop scene is showing little signs of slowing down. As the artists that once lead the city out from behind the shadows begin to take a back seat to the next generation, a multitude of styles and sounds have begun to emerge. The Allan Kingdoms, Finding Novyons, deM atlaS’ and Lizzos are well on their way, but there is an entirely new wave of young artists spawning in their wake.
Producer/ MC duo John Shrimpnose & Prophetta are 2 Minnesota artists who are quietly making a name for themselves. Hailing from the city of Buffalo, MN, the two have been trekking to Minneapolis regularly to showcase their skills wherever they’ll be heard. A few shows at Honey turned into a headlining performance at First Avenue’s 7th Street Entry, where it became obvious just how far they’ve come. As I sat on the couch in 7th Street’s greenroom the scene feels more like a family reunion rather than the pre-show jitters that so often accompany. John stands shirtless with a mardi gras like array of beads and chains around his neck, one of which is a light up pair of titties. Phetta paces slowly jumping from couch to couch, suddenly one of First Avenue’s staff comes down and says, “Sorry guys gotta take the beer, there are underage performers here.” After being denied one last beer it sinks in just how young they are, especially considering that they both appear beyond their years.
Musically, the two hold a Stockton/Malone like chemistry that thrives in a live show setting. Shrimp’s intricate production fits Prophetta’s razor sharp lyricism like a glove; their unique use of instruments like the ukulele only separates them further from the pack. It seems there are only a handful of things they don’t agree on. When asked if you’re a boob or ass man John simply motions to his tittie necklace while Phetta proclaims his love for the latter.
As the smoke clears from whatever number joint we just smoked, I not only realize I burned a hole in my shirt, but also that everyone in the room is laughing and having a good time. It’s evident that this isn’t just a group of rappers with a good rapport; it’s a close knit family of artists who are growing WITH each other. John Shrimpnose & Prophetta’s musical talents speak for themselves, it’s the way they conduct themselves with such love for the art and purely having fun that separates them from a lot of other artists I’ve interacted with. No matter if there are only 10 people in the crowd or 200, everyone there will be having a good time and that’s what it’s all about.
Years ahead in terms of talent, command of said talent and discipline; John Shrimpnose & Prophetta will soon be the one’s blazing trails. Two artists I’ve grown to like musically and personally, there’s no doubt in my mind that you’ll be seeing a lot more of them in the future. Check out the Q&A and some of their music below.
How/When were you introduced to music/production?
JS: My dad bought me a drum kit when I was 5 years old, In elementary school I started taking drum lessons, and I eventually picked up guitar, and other instruments. I was really into metal until I heard XXYYXX. He’s probably the first producer that made me want to make beats.
Who influences your production sound?
JS: I try to look to nature or my own thoughts for inspiration for most of my music. For example, with my last tape, “Under the Greenery”, I produced the whole thing in the spring, as leaves were starting to bud again — and I was realizing how vital trees are to keeping our planet habitable, which inspired me to donate all of the profits to Rainforest Alliance.
Favorite local artists/band/group?
JS: There are tons of really talented local artists. Greg Grease is probably my favorite hip-hop artist. There’s this killer progressive rock band called Denim Matriarch. Those guys rip it up.
Who do you want to work with most? Locally? Nationally?
JS: I’m most excited about continuing to work with my friends. We have some material in the works with pretty much every artist on the bill from 7th Street, and some other dudes too. I tend not to want to work with artists I’m a really big fan of because I feel like I would ruin their vibe.
Would you rather have 15 seconds of International fame or become a local legend?
JS: I don’t really want 15 minutes of fame in any way; but mostly just because tons of people that had their 15 minutes are in lawsuits or homeless or making sex tapes and doing drugs and shit, haha. I just want to keep working with the very talented scene in the Twin Cities, and branch out and work with other talented artists.
Who is your dream producer mentor? Why?
JS: My dream mentor would be James Blake. I’m an unabashed James Blake fanboy. He’s the most talented musician alive, in my opinion.
Would you ever consider other genres?
JS: I don’t think I adhere to strictly one genre. On this album Prophetta and I are finishing up, we have bangers, we have ballads, we have boom-bap, we have R&B. I’m excited about it. As far as branching out of hip-hop is concerned, I’m sure I will. In high school I used to write moody guitar songs and listen to only metal because I was edgy. I love jazz and metal drumming. I’m sure I’ll play in some bands in the future, but as of now I’m focused solely on honing my shrimp-powers.
Where do you see yourself/craft in 5 years?
JS: In 5 years, I see myself looking back on me trying think about where I’d see myself in five years and laughing because I was totally wrong. I’ve already been really surprised with how far my music has gone in the past year of producing seriously. I really wanna go on a tour sometime soon.
When did you become serious about music?
P: I became serious about music in high school after researching and studying music theory on my own time I began to understand how to create a scene or an idea through sound, and I really enjoyed being able to do this.
Who influences you musically?
P: As a rapper, Earl sweatshirt, MF doom, Slug, and a bunch of others but those are my top 3.
I also really like some producers that I’ve been hearing lately like North House, ICETEP, and Su Na. The sounds these dudes make I really vibe with.
When did you know Shrimp was a good match?
P: I’ve known Shrimpnose since high school but one day I heard from a friend he was making beats on garage band. So I went over to his house to listen and some of them were actually pretty good. I thought maybe this dude is onto something so i gave him the program logic and a month later when I came back he had over like 30 beats ready to use and I looked at him and said you’re stickin with me. His influences are the perfect blend of people and it enables him to create sounds and songs that no one else could imagine.
At what age did you start experimenting with music?
P: Prolly my last year of high school, I kinda realized that if I wanted music to become something for me I would need to branch out past the 16 bar loop with a fire ass hook. So that’s when me and Shrimp got together and just started making anything and everything as long as we thought it sounded good.
Who is your favorite local artist/band/group?
P: Locals. hmm. I obviously fuck with thestand4rd. they have done a lot for this city.
But my favorite local artist right now is prolly Greg Grease. He is on some other shit.
Who do you want to work with the most? Locally? Nationally?
P: I would love to work with artists like Alex wiley, Father, Pouya, Greg Grease.
Also producers like Su Na, RELLIM, and Amati.
Would you rather have 15 seconds of international fame or become a local legend?
P: I would rather be locally known and be able to eat and live comfortably than be internationally known for sure. I just wanna do what i love for a living. I dont need the cars and the chains.
Where do you see yourself/craft in 5 years?
P: Constantly improving. Moving forward. Prolly on a bus with Shrimp somewhere.