This afternoon I met with the Saint Peter City Commissioner about purchasing one of the pieces from 30mph Zone to display in the public library or City Hall. We didn't get connected until the very end of the show, so I left a few pieces on the walls for him to see. we had a really great conversation about Minnesota Avenue, and he brought up a lot of points that I had thought about while developing the show. It seems that everybody in the city government was concerned about making the downtown business district walkable when the Highway 169 renovations were happening, but MnDoT, who actually owns the road, was more concerned with moving as much traffic through the city as quickly as possible. for the first time I had to give my opinion about Saint Peter as a City to live in, rather than Gustavus as a school to study at. I'm interested to know what long term Saint Peter residents have to say about the Minnesota Avenue renovation, and what young people thing about Saint Peter as a place to live. Let me know in the comments, and I'll let you know if today's meeting bares any fruit.
Tonight I am excited to see Oddisee & Good Company at First Avenue. Oddisee is one of my favorite rappers right now. He is of Sudanese decent, and grew up partly there and partly in Washington DC. This gives him an interesting perspective on a lot of topics. His recent project Alwasta ("wasta" means "middle" or "middleman" in Arabic) talks about what it means to be a Muslim in the United States today. He raps about being mistrusted and profiled because of his religion, but at the same time being needed and sought after by those in power because he is one of the "safe" or "good" Muslims, and therefore could be useful. The EP is extremely relevant right now, and also just a really good listen.
I first fell in love with That's Love off of his 2015 album The Good Fight when I saw him perform it on an NPR Tiny Desk Concert video. I'm really struck by the genuine positivity that is mixed into a lot of his verses. I'm not saying that positive rap is better than rap that is negative or talks about violence. Gangsta rap and all the kinds of rap that people of a certain age condemn for their negativity (with a few exceptions) are just as important. In part because they started as the autobiographies of marginalized people, and because they paint a more complete picture of the different experiences humans have. I'm just saying that his positivity along with his frankness, and a great beat grabbed me right away. Just listen to That's Love and you'll get what I mean.
Another reason I like him so much: He performs with a live band, Good Company, and they are so, so talented! They could hold their own even without a front man, but the combination is just really special.