YouTube embed, blog post is by John Hoff
From the front page of today's Star Tribune:
“The indictment of these alleged gang members is a step forward in the fight against violent crime in Minneapolis,” Luger said. “As charged, these defendants engaged in armed robbery and drug dealing to fund the illegal purchases of firearms they used to conduct gang warfare.”
The long-standing turf war has led to at least six killings and numerous shootings, which have been on the rise in recent years, following the high-profile murder of a high-ranking 1-9 gang member in downtown Minneapolis last year.
A succession of videos on YouTube and Facebook fanned the feud, taunting 1-9 and Stick Up Boys members, which led to a series of retaliatory shootings on the North Side, according to court documents. (Underlined emphasis by JNS blog)
You Read About Mental Mid First On JNS Blog
The YouTube videos which fanned the feud were almost certainly "Kobe Diss" and "No Competition" by Mental Mid. JNS blog had its teeth marks all over stories about those videos before any other media came onboard. Now every major media entity in the state is writing about the recent federal indictment which references these same YouTube videos...
Or so I suspect. I mean, what OTHER YouTube videos could they be talking about referencing the killing of Tyrone "Ty Crack" Washington at Epic Nightclub?
Of course, the Star Tribune doesn't even mention the man's name and just refers to Washington as a "high ranking 1-9 gang member. Give the man dignity, I say. Write Tyrone Washington's name. Do not be afraid to speak or write his NAME and only refer to him as a "gang member."
Mainstream Media Caught Slippin'
My mothafuckin homie Doggy Dogg has my back
Never let me slip, 'cause if I slip, then I'm slippin'
But if I got my Nina, then you know I'm straight trippin'
Another way mainstream media are falling short in their coverage of the recent federal indictments:
Wouldn't I love to see those "court documents" mentioned in the dozens of news stories hitting yesterday and today and see what's being said about "YouTube" videos which "fanned the flames." Today I have looked through a dozen media reports all saying about the same thing, and not one of these journalists links to the actual court documents so readers can get pure, unsifted, unedited source documents filled with relevant information.
If this blogger gets a copy of the federal indictment, this blogger will do better.
I'm Not A Music Reviewer, But I Play One In The Blogosphere
But let's get back to Mental Mid, shall we, and his latest YouTube video? By "latest" I mean three months ago. And allow me to explain my delay in reviewing it...
Right about now, I'm glad to be merely a blogger who writes from time to time about local gang-banger musician "Mental Mid" and I'm glad I'm NOT his manager.
If I were Mental Mid's manager, then right about now he'd be saying, "JOHNNY NORTHSIDE! You told me in your critique of "Neva Bluff" that I needed to get out in the streets and meet my audience, despite the risks. You told me that if I stayed in the basement I would look like I was hiding, and all my music would start to sound alike. So I did exactly what you said in my latest song Mental$oda and WHAT THE HELL, NORTHSIDE? I still only got a crummy 1,972 hits on YouTube for my latest song, MENTAL$ODA!"
Yeah. I don't know what to say about that. I guess taking physical and legal risks doesn't automatically equal musical popularity and internet buzz. Keep in mind Van Gogh didn't become rich and famous the moment he cut off his ear. In fact...
Well, let's not concentrate on what happened to Van Gogh's career as an artist, shall we? Let's talk about why the song isn't succeeding DESPITE really great advice from this critic.
"You're Standing On The Wall Like You Was Poindexter"
Seemingly, Mental Mid's latest song MENTAL$ODA (released some three months ago, not commented upon on this blog until now) has a lot of what makes any rap song successful. There are young men brandishing what appear to be real firearms and a strong lead singer verbally asserting his superiority over all his rivals. And there are less women present than in a movie installment of The Hobbit.
Oh, wait, that last one is NOT something, usually, that makes a music video successful...
Um. Yeah. I should have mentioned that in my review of Neva Bluff. Making a little note, here...
Get. Some. Pretty. Women. Next. Time.
And, just in case it's necessary to avoid some terrible future misunderstanding, these women should NOT be forced to participate in the video at gunpoint or through other forms of physical or mental coercion.
I'm just saying. Now back to what went wrong, here...
Chilling Sight Of Local Landmarks In "Murder Rap" Video
The selection of places where the sausage party video shoot for MENTAL$ODA takes place are daring assertions of territorial claims: I recognize Target Field where a member of Mental Mid's crew (Prince Kibbie) was the victim of a shooting. Kibbie was alleged to have retaliated against rivals soon after and currently faces charges. Another highly recognizable location in the latest music video is First Avenue, the premier musical venue in Minneapolis for decades.
Very daring. Very edgy. At least one police cruiser appears in the video, as though to underscore the fearlessness of the participants in the music video. I mean, shake that crowd in the video and if one active warrant doesn't fall out, I will be much surprised. Never mind that arsenal being waved around during the music video.
Hmmm. A note of concern here...
It would be a shame if the gang violence which mars venues like Epic extends the popular and venerable First Avenue. Mere depiction of the exterior of First Avenue in this music video should be an alarming "heads up" to management at First Avenue. This is one reason I didn't write about this song and what it depicted for three months, to avoid a repeat of the "Young Dro" episode which shut down a musical venue.
Yes, there are what appear to be bold and brazen territorial assertions in MENTAL$ODA. But MENTAL$ODA sounds like most of Mental Mid's other songs and, worse yet, has the same sound while containing no noteworthy revelations.
There isn't a much commentary about the particulars of past violent criminal incidents, usually a staple of what seems an emerging genre I call "Murder Rap" which smashes the line between art and evidence. It's almost as though a new and artistically crippling self-consciousness has emerged in Mental Mid, a rational realization that every word of his lyrics might be analyzed by authorities, unlike the former ten foot tall and bulletproof style seen in Kobe Diss, No Competition and even Back Flip. In this way, MONEY$ODA does not represent a complete emergence from the dark, alienated self-involvement of his song Neva Bluff. Mental Mid has stopped hiding, physically, but he's still concealing himself, lyrically.
Of course, there is evidence of some different producers involved in the making of this latest music video, so I have to wonder if MENTAL$ODA is intended as a transitional work; a little something to keep the local audience interested while something big is in the works like an entire album.
I don't know whether to say "I hope so" as you would with a normal music review or "God help us," which seems more appropriate with this particular "Murder Rap" art form and my role as blogger. Truthfully, I only play musical reviewer as a kind of artifice to make coverage of neighborhood issues more interesting; and make no mistake, every music video released by Mental Mid has the status of a troubling neighborhood issue with the potential for violence.
An Urban Musical Terrorist
In a sense, waiting for another Mental Mid song to drop is like anticipating the latest ISIS beheading to hit the airwaves. This is the soundtrack of actual urban terrorism, set to a catchy beat. If you don't believe me, read the federal indictment. If you can get your hands on it.
Despite the fact MONEY$ODA and his other songs have yet to launch him into the mu$ical $trato$phere, "Mental Mid" continues to exist in or near the focal point of current events relevant to our troubled neighborhood. And the recent federal charges have come down, lopsidedly, on the very enemies taunted in "Kobe Diss" and "No Competition." Somehow, Mental Mid and his crew have walked away clean even if those "taunting videos" are probably mentioned in the federal indictment.
Still Alive, Still Relevant
Hey, it's not like the feds are picking sides, but rather they are simply acting upon the evidence available; in this case, evidence about weapons straw buyers, all of which comes down hard upon 1-9 Dipset and Sticc Up Boys while their mortal enemies the Taliban and YnT (Young N Thuggin) haven't been (what is the urban phrase?) caught slippin' or caught lackin'.
Sure, Mental Mid only has 1,972 viewers for his latest YouTube music video but Mental Mid is still the hands down winner, here. Once again he has survived, escaped, and come out clean while dropping his bullet-hard taunting beats.
Mental Mid is so far untouchable, despite playing out his urban street life upon YouTube in front of armed enemies from 1-9 Dipset, the relentless investigating local authorities and feds, bloggers, mainstream media, the whole critical and unaccepting world. The starlight gleam of savvy, street smart intelligence is still highly evident in his eyes, even if the most this intelligence has produced lately is 1,972 viewer hits.
Minneapolis, Home Of The Best "Murder Rap"
Mental Mid may still be our region's undiscovered musical diamond mine, if he can avoid death at the hands of his enemies and hustle his way to a wider audience. Can audiences in California, New York, Atlanta, even Europe be made to GIVE A DAMN about songs concerning a relatively small scale gang tensions and warfare in (good lord) "Moneysoda?" If anybody seizes the emerging "True Murder Rap" genre and rides it to the stars, it's more likely to be an artist from New York or California. That's been the trend.
Is Mental Mid still artistically relevant? Is he potentially a huge artist who can break out of minor regional status and mere YouTube distribution?
You bet he is. Merely the fact Mental Mid's still alive and still escaping federal indictment while living in the eye of the North Minneapolis murder hurricane makes Mental Mid relevant and a notable phenomenon. He's even more relevant still because he dares, time and time again, to comment in a visceral public way.
This is the part of the blog posting where I suggest political and religious leaders talk to rappers like Mental Mid about seeking ways to end the violence on the streets and put out a different and more positive message.
An Emerging, Relevant Rap Genre
While MENTAL$ODA is disappointing, I continue to expect big things. Or Mental Mid's sudden and violent demise, take your pick.
But that's the thrill and attraction of True Murder Rap. At any moment, gunfire might fill the music venue. Every completed set of lyrics might be the singer's last words hurled in the face of armed enemies.
Is this a good way to live?
No, but it's incredible and vital art. I find it impossible to tear away my eyes and ears.