DJ Sessions: Twin Cities Melting Pot

Mar 12, 2014

Dave Campbell, host of “The Local Show” on The Current from Minnesota Public Radio, says that the music scene in the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, have a melting pot of a music scene — including a vibrant hip hop culture.

Songs Heard In This Segment

Lizzo, “Paris”


Lizzo, “Wegula”


The Cactus Blossoms, “Lost John Dean”

Jeremy Messersmith, “Tourniquet

Buffalo Moon, “Amor De Lejos”

Buffalo Moon, “Poolside Dreaming”


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And time now for another edition of the HERE AND NOW DJ Sessions.


TOM PETTY: (Singing) There goes the last DJ.


JAMIE FOXX: (Singing) DJ, won't you play this girl a love song?


NIC CESTER: (Singing) Dance, little DJ, come on.


RIHANNA: (Singing) Come, Mr. DJ, song pon de replay. Come, Mr. DJ, won't you turn the music up?

HOBSON: We are joined this week by David Campbell. He is a host on The Current, that's Minnesota Public Radio's Triple A music station. He hosts the show called "the Local Show," and he joins us now from St. Paul. David, Campbell, welcome.

DAVID CAMPBELL, BYLINE: Hey. Thanks for having me, Jeremy.

HOBSON: Well, you're here today to talk about some of the music that's coming out of the Twin Cities. Let's get right to it on the hip-hop side with a song called "Paris." It's by Melissa Jefferson who goes by Lizzo.


LIZZO: (Singing) Have you ever been to Paris at night? Neither have I, neither have I, neither have I, neither have I. Have you ever been to Paris at night? Neither have I, neither have I, neither have I, neither have I.

(Rapping) Hey, have you ever been to Paris?


LIZZO: (Rapping) Me neither. And if you said you did, then my pilot won't believe you. Got a cousin named Lita, you'll probably never meet her 'cause they live in Detroit in (unintelligible).

HOBSON: It sounds sort of TLC-ish.

CAMPBELL: I think that's an accurate assessment. I know that Melissa - Lizzo certainly has a strong affinity for contemporary rhythm and blues. Beyonce is her hero.

HOBSON: What should we know about Lizzo?

CAMPBELL: Well, she is a Minnesota resident by way of Detroit and Texas - Houston Texas. And I think sort of the potpourri of growing up and playing and singing and recording music that was contemporary gospel music and then sort of migrating to a place where she really got invested and involved in listening to modern R&B creates this hybrid of - she's equal parts Jay-Z and Beyonce. She could kind of go either way.

HOBSON: Well, let's listen to another one. This is from a group that actually includes Lizzo. This is called Grrrl Prty. The song is "Wegula."


GRRL PRTY: (Singing) Oops, I didn't know you was a wegula. Oops my bad. I didn't know you was a wegula. Oops my bad. I didn't know you was a wegula. Oh, you's a wegula. Oh, you's a wegula. Oops, I didn't know you was a wegula. Oops my bad. I didn't know you was a wegula. Oops my bad. I didn't know you was a wegula. Oh, you's a wegula.

HOBSON: I said wegula. Maybe it's actually wegula. But tell us about the hip-hop scene in the Twin Cities.

CAMPBELL: It's a big deal here, and it has been for a while now. In fact, there's been books that have come out about it written by guys who have been here ever since the Dawn - maybe the biggest artist that we've had break out of here would be Atmosphere from the Rhymesayers Entertainment family. They're sort of the cornerstone of the hip-hop community here.

But there's been a ton of different crews over the last, maybe five, 10 years that have popped up. One of them is the Doomtree Crew. And there's just a lot of different artists that are making really, really intensely creative and new and exciting hip-hop here. And this is maybe a place where I don't think people would expect that there would be a strong hip-hop culture.

HOBSON: I think that that's a fair statement. It's probably not.

CAMPBELL: Well, we're here to spread the gospel that it is not the case indeed. We've got a little bit of everything here in the Twin Cities.

HOBSON: All right. Well, let's listen to something very different actually right now. This is a group called Cactus Blossoms. The song is "Lost John Dean."


CACTUS BLOSSOMS: (Singing) Did you ever hear the story 'bout Lost John Dean, a bold black robber from Bowling Green. They put him in the jailhouse yesterday late that night he made his getaway. He's long gone from old Kentucky. He's long gone, got away lucky. He's long gone, that's what I mean. Long gone from Bowling Green.

HOBSON: See, now that sounds more similar to something I would expect to hear on the show that we've all heard that comes right from where you are right there, and that would be "A Prairie Home Companion."

CAMPBELL: I would not be surprised to see The Cactus Blossoms show up on "A Prairie Home Companion," if they haven't already. The two of them, they're kind of the backbone of the group Page Burkum and Jack Torrey. They're brothers. They have different names. But they sing in a way that only brothers can sing together in the great tradition of The Lubben Brothers or The Stanley Brothers. They just blend so well together. But it's got that real old-school country sound, the Hank Williams sound, Lefty Frizzell. And truth be told, there's not a ton of music that sounds that retro here.


BLOSSOMS: (Singing) I'll never forget till the day I die when I played a little thing the woman held high. It's head to win, tails to lose. She played the ace, I played the deuce. I'm long gone from old Kentucky. I'm long gone, got away lucky. I'm long gone, that's what I mean. Long gone from Bowling Green.

HOBSON: OK. Let's move right along. This is Jeremy Messersmith. Here is the song "Tourniquet."


JEREMY MESSERSMITH: (Singing) When I see you crying, if your tears run out, I will lesser you a thundercloud. When you're tired of trying, I won't stay away. I don't care what other people say. When there's nothing left to do, I will pull you close and wrap my arms around you. No, I won't let you slip. I'll be your tourniquet.


David, I have to say, this sounds very similar to a lot of the stuff that is played on the top 40 stations right now.

CAMPBELL: I think that's pretty accurate. And Jeremy is a man who has been quietly making pretty incredible pop music. It's very sweet, sometimes deceivingly sweet. He also - he's got a dark side definitely lyrically, but this was his big jump. He put out three records, a trilogy, on his own. And the folks at Glassnote Records took a look at him and signed him up. That's the home of Mumford & Sons and Phoenix. And now, Jeremy kind of made his international debut sort of out in your area. You may be seeing Jeremy Messersmith come to a club near you soon.

HOBSON: All right. Well, you also wanted us to hear from a group called Buffalo Moon. Let's listen to "Amor De Lejos."


HOBSON: Well, that's a very different sound, David.

CAMPBELL: It is South Dakota meets Ecuador. And all the kids who are in the band grew up in South Dakota except for the lead singer, Karen, who is from Ecuador. And it reminds me a lot of a group of players from Brazil psychedelic travelers Os Mutantes who put out some amazing records in the '60s.

HOBSON: Oh, yeah.

CAMPBELL: And now we kind of have our own version of that here. Unfortunately, Karen has moved off to New York City, so I don't know that we'll get to see another record from them. But there's three incredible pieces of work that they put out while they were living together here in the Twin Cities.


HOBSON: You know, one of the things I love about these DJ sessions, whether we check in in Austin or Milwaukee or Portland, Oregon, or now Minneapolis, St. Paul, is you see just how much is going on in each of these cities and all the different kinds of music. Is there one way you would describe the scene right now in the Twin Cities?

CAMPBELL: It's just like the rest of the country. It's the great melting pot.

HOBSON: David Campbell, host at The Current. That's the music station at Minnesota Public Radio. David, thanks so much for joining us.

CAMPBELL: Thanks for having me.


HOBSON: And we're listening to another song here from Buffalo Moon. This is "Poolside Dreaming." We've got the full list at From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Jeremy Hobson.

YOUNG: I'm Robin Young. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.