Since it’s inception, the debate over authenticity has always come into question in Hip Hop. In other genres of music, indulging in fantasy is considered commonplace and offers new possibilities for artists to expand upon their art, but being that rap music is a representation of an overarching culture, credibility and character remain to be judged on the same scale as lyrical finesse in determining whether a song is good or not. It has helped countless minds conquer in the rap battle arena as well as the top of the charts. Yet along with the accessibilty of the internet within last decade, we have seen many acts that have defy this form of principle to conform to the trolling that baits many purists into a fruitless bout of wits and integrity. As this trend continues to grow, there are still hope with those that wish to celebrate “real Hip Hop” and one shining example is with the MC duo Mirage.
Raised off of Hazelwood and Maryland, Mirage has been St. Paul certified for decades. Born as identical twins to a single mother who “could never bend a bone in her body,” Lesson and Twin proudly honor their past and their present through the 10 track self-titled new album.
“This is our fourth project, but it feels like our first because we’re putting so much of our upbringing,” said Lesson. “We have a song called the ‘Corner Store,’ which anybody can relate to their local corner store. We got a lot of back and forth stuff and we’ve never shown that. We’ve done a lot of shows and the people ain’t seeing that so this is our self-titled project so that it’s kind of like our introduction.”
Keeping it within the family, the album was produced entirely by the Lake Street Store Owner, Mike The Martyr and recorded/mixed by SP-Allstar DJ D.Mil. Ranging from Policia sampled hook on “Get Your Head Right” and the jazzy saxophone on “Tell Me Why,” the Long Doe producer’s brand of soul sampled boom bap continues to give weight to the heartfelt lyrics expressed within the half hour long play.
“I just seen him perform and I was like ‘this is some dope shit,’” said Lesson. “I knew that I needed to get on his beats, so it just took time that’s all. It took hitting him up enough times until finally we started buying beats and making music. Although we haven’t been making a lot of songs with him, but we have so many beats at the house that we could probably make another two albums on top of the three we already did.”
“We really love his style,” said Twin, “it fits us. These beats helped our sound and I’ll forever be grateful to Mike The Martyr. There’s nobody bring that sound in Minnesota. His beats are really reflective and you can say a lot, pour a lot out on his beats….Besides his beats, he is one of the illest MCs. Aside from Slug growing up, that was our second favorite MC in Minnesota.”
While some might be distracted by the captivating soul compositions, many listeners are sure to be delighted by Mirage’s might on the mic. Between questioning societal ills to celebrating the Hip Hop culture, they deliver insightful and direct raps that spares all confusion. Although they shy away from most gimmicks, Mirage will admit that they have followed in the footsteps taken by their idols UGK by delivering Lesson’s unrestricted flare alongside Twin’s more composed personality. This is featured deliberately throughout the album by embarking on the back and forth rhyme schemes within each track, playing off the instinctual chemistry that comes from sharing a womb. As effortlessly as it appears in life, the two assert that it was sometimes difficult to apply it within songs like “2 of a Kind.”
“It can be hard cause you know,” said Lesson, “I’m used to writing 16s. I’ve been writing poems forever, my first poem came out at age twelve and I’m used to writing long stuff. It was a struggle, but now we have a handle on it.”
“Now it’s got us writing different like now it’s ‘we’re writing a song,’” said Twin. “Before it was like you write a 16 or an 8, but now we have to write it together because at the end of the day, it has to come together as one.”
The project will lead up to their official release show at the Bedlam Lowertown Theater on Friday, March 25th. Hosted by Schoolboy Entertainment’s Ken-C, the night will also feature local heavy hitters Killa Capone, MC Rentz, Nox, Exotica J. Taylor, Marx and DJ King Otto holding court on the 1s and 2s. Among the excitement, the brothers are looking forward to claim the stage for their hour long headlining slot that poses a new challenge as well as an opportunity to further prove that they live to perform.
“We’ll perform anywhere, any time,” said Twin. “Whenever we go out, we always have some beats on hand just in case we have a chance to perform. I feel like this is where we excel the most.”
As they prepare to step before crowd once again, Mirage are content with staying within the thriving Hip Hop community in the Twin Cities as they recall countless favorite moments within its rich history. Along with their appreciation of the new found attention to the longstanding movement in Minnesota Hip Hop that has brought in major labels and new outlets such as Go 95.3FM, Mirage is looking forward to what is to come. While they gear up to start their next project, it is safe to say that their authenticity will not come into question anytime soon. It is more about who is ready to see past the flash to embrace their glowing integrity before it’s too late.
Mirage’s new album is available now on their Bandcamp and will be free to everyone attending their Album Release Show taking place at the Bedlam Lowertown Theater on Friday, March 25th. Tickets will be available at the door. And be sure to stay up to date with the latest news on their Facebook and Twitter.