Published in The Pulse of the Twin Cities
by Kandis Knight
“I don’t talk about no guns. You’ll never hear me saying I’ll shoot ya. I don’t talk about no dope slanging. I don’t got no keys. I don’t got no homies coming in from Guatemala. I don’t talk about none of that. I’m mostly a party oriented type of cat, I talk about a lot of kicking it,” said Contac, Minneapolis’ most nationally recognized “crunk-tified” emcee.
His style is definitely for those who love to party and get “crunk-alated” and I am sure we all have it in us from time to time to just scream out “Eeyeaya!”
“I’m still from the hood, you can’t take that from me,” says Contac, obviously already used to defending his style of music. “To me it’s not about being hard, it’s about being thorough and real with yours. I keep mines moving, I don’t judge people. Y’all might not like me telling a girl to shake her ass or telling the homies to hit that and pass it, you might not like the whole party thing, but everybody parties. I’m very open-minded from backpack rap to whatever, I did all of that.”
Contac was raised in Minneapolis, where he was break dancing in the streets at 4 years old. “I’ve been into Hip-Hop music since I was 4 or 5,” he claims. “I remember growing up on the Northside [Minneapolis]. You know what I’m saying? Break dancing in the hood, back when ‘Breakin’ was out and ‘Beatstreet’ was in. Back then they had the Minneapolis Body Breakers up here.”
Growing up in North Minneapolis was rough, but Contac had a support system and Hip-Hop became his outlet. “Moving in with my dad was something that really changed my life,” admits Contac. “I was 16 at the time and this was like after I got kicked out of Job Corp. I always had my dad in my life, I was fortunate to have a dad and a stepdad growing up. At the time I was experiencing a lot of grown-up things about life and the streets, just coming into being a young man. My dad was there to teach me a whole lot about life, the streets and getting an education. He was the main one that was always pushing me to finish school no matter what I really wanted to do with music or sports.”
Contac started out in Hip-Hop by freestyling around town. At 17 he got serious with his craft and began to record songs. “In 1999, I dropped a single called ‘I Can’t Talk.’ I used to be down with Cue Recording Studios over on 46th and Chicago. It was like a technical college learning experience about the music industry and everything. I did a lot of music over there. After that whole situation [ended], I was like real frustrated. I had enough hands-on experience in the studio to just say I’m going to go ahead and do my own beats. I came up with this song called ‘I Can’t Talk’ which proved to be an eye opener for a lot of people about me.”
Contac’s first solo project, What Dat’ Boy Name? released in 2001, was immediately followed up by a compilation CD. “In 2002, I released a compilation called Mayhemm with my partner Joe Thoven of Ground Control Records. My friend DBK did the beats for that album and some singing.” (DBK is currently in Atlanta recording with Goodie Mob).
It wasn’t until 2002, however, that Contac began to see big things happen with his career. “In 2002, I signed a one-album deal with Jesse Mendoza and Wildside Records based out of Minnesota. They gave me a budget, a pretty nice sized budget, to make things happen.”
With a new label backing him, Contac began work on his album Eeyeahya which was slated to be released in 2003. He has recorded 30 songs for the album and 15 made the final cut. “My new album, Eeyeaya (It has three syllables), is being mastered right now, and hopefully it will be released before June,” claims Contac. “I’m dealing with a couple extra-curricular issues with this album. Label issues but I won’t get too in depth on that. It’s all good, all I’m going to say is certain people need to handle their business, I handled mine. I am working at getting everything pressed up at once, the posters, CD, vinyl, T-shirts by summer.”
Contac’s Eeyeaya CD release party is planned for summer 2004 and promises to be big since the project has been delayed for over a year. “I want to try to bring a national group to town for the release party. I want it bigger and better than the average CD release party.”
When he says national he means it. “As far as getting up with the national acts, you know, money talks to a lot of them,” admits Contac. “I had that kind of backing and so they gave me the time of day just to do something with me. I had the budget, had the right people making the calls and connecting with the right people.”
Last year, Wildside paid Lil’ Jon and the Eastside Boys an undisclosed amount of money to record with Contac at their studio.
“We caught up with them (Lil’ Jon and the Eastside Boys) after the Ashanti, Snoop Dogg and Next concert at Xcel Energy. The label had been on the phone and the internet with them for about a week before they came up here and they negotiated a deal so that they could come to our studio after the concert and do something with me, and everything panned out, but the whole studio experience was it. It was just like a big ole’ party. The Eastside Boys are real cool. They are real down to earth. Lil’ Jon he’s the out front guy. He’s cool but the Eastside Boys kept it real cool.”
When reminiscing about the experience, Contac is frank in describing the emotions he encountered upon meeting some of his Hip-Hop idols. “Just the experience was really overwhelming, cause you know coming from the Northside, coming from where I’m at and the next thing I know I’m recording with these guys who you actually see on videos and making big things happen. Their albums are going platinum, it was way overwhelming. I woke up the next morning, first thing I thought was, ‘I got a song with Lil’ Jon and the Eastside Boys.’”
The deal with Wildside also had Contac rubbing elbows with the Dogg Pound. “I also got Kurupt on my album. I went to California last year. He did four songs with me. Me and him kicked it the whole day. I did a song with him for his project. He is real. At the time he was dealing with the Death Row situation and he went back and signed with them, he was talking about how Snoop ain’t cool with them and all. I talked to him more about getting movie roles. How he went to these companies pitching high bids for movies. He worked on three films that came out last year. That situation was cool, it wasn’t rushed. I was able to relax, sit back and absorb everything.”
As for the future, Contac has set his goals high, and his experience networking with national recording artists will definitely help him go a long way. “I am trying to be on 106th and Park, I’m trying to have my wife and my two kids straight, she want to open a business, she can do that no problem, my son’s college funds, all of that. I know as far as this music goes in order for me to do that I got to come out commercial. That is one thing about these national emcees, they do less than one hour of studio work and leave out of there with all that money. Kurupt did his for five thousand dollars. The work he did on the song he got paid for took less than an hour. He came in, burned a song, wrote to it for 20 minutes, a half hour, went in there, laid his shit, boom. That is good arithmetic. I can’t wait to get on that status. Five thousand is not a lot of money, but if I can make five thousand dollars doing something I love, than everything is great.”
With all the excitement of 2003 behind him, Contac is now free to focus on all of the work he has to do in 2004. “As far as distribution, Wildside Records are negotiating all of that for me. If they can’t get the right distribution we will drop it anyway while we are shopping for the right distribution deal. I always feel that it doesn’t hurt you to go ahead and drop it, if a label wants to come and put a bigger budget behind it you can always re-master it or redo the whole thing.”
Contac is outspoken when it comes to his thoughts on what can enrich the local Hip-Hop scene. “The local Hip-Hop scene is segregated,” he claims. “Being from here, a lot of people are stubborn. People use that term ‘hating’ but at the same time, how can you hate on someone when they’re trying to do the same thing as you? My whole philosophy is that people need to be more open-minded and realize that there are a whole lot of different vibes of music and backgrounds just in Minnesota in general. Imagine if Muja had his own following, I got mine,
Rhymesayers had theirs, Dead End had theirs and so on and so on and we chose to put on shows and put out projects together?"
We don’t got to do everything together but we got to break that barrier. All the other cities did it. That’s why they’re blowing up. That’s the bottom line—ain’t no way around it. If we started reaching out to each other and stopped talking drunk talk to each other out in the club, ‘Yeah I’m going to call you,’ (mockingly) and then you wake up the next day and you never make the call. Then you see that same person four months later and you do the same thing.
Next thing you know is four years went by. Me personally, I want to do a track with everybody in this town. I think there are a lot of cats who I know my style would complement and vice versa.”
Contac performs Fri., Apr. 23, at the Sabathani Community Center. 310 East 38th St., Mpls. Call 612-827-5981 for more info.