words and interview by Chance Solem-Pfeifer
So releasing an 8-bit video game with your album looks great in a press release. It’s a talking point, it’s a fun anecdote, what have you.
But for M34N STR33T and the release of Mutants of Omaha, the title of both the game and M34N STR33T’s forthcoming debut album, the aesthetic and personality similarities are a little uncanny.
Fire up the game, and you’re bouncing around Midtown Omaha as Conny Franko, better known as Conchance, the vocalist and lyricist for M34N STR33T. And you’re enacting street justice on to roving mutants two tennis shoes on top of their heads at a time, piling up the points. But there’s something about the limitations in movement, all up, down, right and left. There’s something about the jitters if your computer won’t quite load it that’s perfect for M34N STR33T’s hip-hop.
The music on their debut album is ecstatic with a sense of playfulness, with Conchance’s lyrics a little more extroverted and a little more clearly interpreted than some of his solo work. Likewise, Haunted Gauntlet and DJ Really Real (aka Adam Robert Haug and Bryan Crow) employ samples and beats that are forthright and hum-happy right up until the moment that the songs seem to get anxious with themselves. Then, the production fuzzes out Conchance’s voice or Haunted Gauntlet and Real break into scratching right and buzzing just at the moment where a chord structure is about to revolve itself.
“Escapist” isn’t quite the right word for the new album because it’s not reality in one spectrum and fantasy in the other. Rather, the sweet and the scathing parts of the music seem to be trying to escape each other. Thankfully they don’t, and wires get crossed in 18 tracks that are half like a whimsical child wishing he could live in a video game, and half like his older self clawing to get out of its two dimensions and perpendiculars.
Ultimately, M34N STR33T takes up residence on a specific Midtown block of Omaha hip-hop that it loves, but imagines a little differently every time it looks outside, always prone to shapeshifting.
You can see them next Friday, April 25 at Slowdown for the release of Mutants of Omaha with Both (Scky Rei & INFNTLP), Borealis and Sean Pratt & The Sweats. But right now they join us live in the studio on HNFM.