El Guante
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El Guante

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"...His rhymes are both entertaining and thought provoking, guided by bouncy and soulful beats that help propel his message. If you are a fan of Common, Immortal Technique, Saul Williams, Boots Riley, Brother Ali, or any other talented social activist rapp"

I recently found local rapper Guante while surfing some music websites, so I thought I would pass his music along. I will be the first to admit I do not have an extensive knowledge of current rap music, but that has come mostly out of complete disillusionment for what I consider a mostly failed genre. To me, mainstream rap music is at the point that rock and roll was in 1987, when hair metal was what people thought represented the entire body of music. I don't think generic rap artists can get much lower and less original than they are right now. Above and beyond being lame and contrived, I think that they sent bullshit messages to kids who do not know any better than to believe what they hear.

Guante sounds like a cross between Common and Immortal Technique, which is probably why I was initially so interested. A lot of "indie" rappers (especially Rhymesayers and friends) have developed a similar sound (soul samples and a laid back, semi-socially conscious flow) that has become their brand in the same way that crunk or gangster rap is a comfort blanket for fans of other sects of rap. I do not dislike this "mainstream indie" rap, but I find a lot of it to be a less offensive versions of 50 cent and company. The rap artists that seem to get and keep my attention now have been the ones who go out of their way to say something provocative. I love that Minneapolis has so many rappers willing to speak their mind. (M.anifest, Brother Ali and Muja Messiah come to mind, but there are others)

Guante defiantly falls into this category. Upon further examination, I found he is fighting against a lot of the dumb shit that turned me off from hip hop so many years ago.
"As an activist and educator, I’ve facilitated university-level courses dealing with racism, sexism, homophobia and identity in general, helped organize countless social justice-oriented conferences and events, written for and edited a number of publications and helped raise money for progressive organizations through benefit shows, compilation CDs and more."

Above all of his good work, his music is very solid. His rhymes are both entertaining and thought provoking, guided by bouncy and soulful beats that help propel his message. If you are a fan of Common, Immortal Technique, Saul Williams, Boots Riley, Brother Ali, or any other talented social activist rapper, then check out Guante on his myspace page and support him at his shows/poetry reading around MPLS. His new CD El Guante's Haunted Studio Apartment comes out in June
--whiskeyfortheholyghost.blogspot.com - whiskyfortheholyghost.blogspot.com


"...[El Guante's Haunted Studio Apartment] is an album that's sure to put El Guante on the verge of national exposure..."

El Guante: The Beats Generation
Ex-Madisonian helps shape a new musical movement
by Rich Albertoni

Hip-hop beats are a spur for social change among a new breed of independent musicians, and a former Madisonian is at the forefront.

Kyle "El Guante" Myhre, 25, is a UW-Madison graduate who relocated to the Twin Cities last fall. During his six years here, he co-founded the Madison Observer and organized campus antiwar efforts.

Before he left, Myhre also earned a reputation as one of Madison's most prolific spoken-word poets and hip-hop MCs. His stint in the local music scene culminated in a 2005 release, Vanishing Point.

This Saturday, El Guante returns for a homecoming show at the Rathskeller. He'll be celebrating the release of his debut CD on the Minneapolis-based independent record label Tru Ruts. His performance will be a Tru Ruts showcase, featuring a core of artists who define themselves more by their activism than their music.

They're part of a movement as poetic and culturally potent as the Beat Generation of the 1950s. With percussion central to their sound, the dawn of a Beats Generation is upon us.

Adam Rangel is a voice of this generation. Rengel MCs under the hip-hop name "See More Perspective." His MySpace page describes him as "a revolutionary leader motivating the masses through his work as a lyricist, poet and educator." Musically, he's "KRS-One meets the Dalai Lama."

PosNoSys are a voice of this generation. They're a Hmong American rock band whose name is short for "Post Nomadic Syndrome." They describe themselves as "socially conscious" and striving to "inspire audiences with a fusion of spoken-word poetry, soul, hip-hop, blues and funk-influenced music."

Truthmaze is a voice of this generation. He's the "Afrika Bambaataa of Twin Cities Hip-Hop" and an outspoken critic of the use of force by Minneapolis police.

Tru Ruts is a record label of this generation. It strives to transcend the boundaries of music, calling itself "a multidisciplinary artistic organization."

And progressive hip-hop is the sound of this generation. It's the kind made by Seattle's Blue Scholars and San Francisco's Pigeon John. These indie artists are charismatic and educated. They are multicultural and self-assured. They are committed to social change. They are to pop music what Barack Obama has become to American politics.

It's 9:30 on a Friday night and El Guante, See More Perspective and actress/playwright Sha Cage have just finished a spoken-word performance at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota.

As Myhre tries to tell me about his new album through his cell phone, he's interrupted frequently by fans who want to meet him or say goodbye. The background is filled with the voices of students, and by the sound of things, they've been moved. "It's a collection of my best output over the past three years," says Myhre.

El Guante's Haunted Studio Apartment is a variation on the '90s soul album Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite. Myhre describes it as "more sinister and weird."

It doesn't take long for expressions of working-class and artistic restlessness to emerge from the new tracks. "Fourth Wall" yearns for a transformation that never seems to come. "Life will start when the rent is paid/Life will start when my album drops/Life will start when I graduate/Life will start tomorrow, too late."

The album is founded on samples that invoke an emotional spectrum, from gentle jazz piano and lonely horns to energetic percussion. My favorite track, "Esta Tarde," is a poignant love song backed by Spanish vocals and a bright harp.

Haunted Studio is an album that's sure to put El Guante on the verge of national exposure, and Myhre senses it. "I guess the next few months are the real test for me," he says.

"Family Business" is a new poem Myhre wishes he'd written in time to add to his new album. It's a tale of two janitors. One has been on the job for three weeks, the other for 15 years. On break, they play chess and disagree about the nature of their favorite piece — the pawn. Jackie, the veteran worker, sees nobility in the pawn's sacrifice. But his young friend can only see pawns as tragic symbols of the working class, "believing we can get to the other side and become royalty ourselves, but most likely dying on the way there for a cause we don't even understand."

Before Myhre hangs up, he tells me that he and his friends are gearing up for the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis this year. "We'll be delegates of a different kind," he says.
- Isthumus (Madison)


"...a megaton bomb on local indie rap, bound to be the heaviest breath of fresh air hip hop heads will suck in all year...El Guante deftly swings from teacher to supreme lyricist to soul-searcher with aplomb and grace, creating KRS' beloved "edutainment" i"

El Guante's Haunted Studio Apartment
Review by Jordan Selbo

El Guante's Haunted Studio Apartment, the new disc being promoted at Friday's Blue Nile show and only available at shows until this summer, is a megaton bomb on local indie rap, bound to be the heaviest breath of fresh air hip hop heads will suck in all year. And it succeeds despite itself. Any other rapper who used such potentially pretentious setups as modeling their art conception on Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite, dividing their album into three "sessions" (one of which is spoken word...usually a clear warning to stay away), and including about 80 minutes of lyrical and conceptual denseness would inevitably drown in surface-level coffee shop boho-isms.

Yet El Guante deftly swings from teacher to supreme lyricist to soul-searcher with aplomb and grace, creating KRS' beloved "edutainment" in the best sense of the word. The success is due in no small part to a number of crucial factors: first and foremost, the beats don't lose out to the lyrics, as several tracks are both melodic and thumping; second, the activist/rapper/poet/teacher has got so damn much to say that even this project's great length and density can hardly contain the wealth of fresh insight, emotion and information he seems capable of conveying; third, dude is nice on the mic, with superior flow and vocabulary; fourth, it's obvious that everything from song concepts to thematic tropes to sequencing has been carefully considered, so it isn't just a big bitter pill of truth telling but rather an intense but coherent journey through the mind of a sincere (and sincerely active) hip hopper (presently a rare species indeed).

Dispelling the empty platitudes of so-called revolutionary or progressive underground acts without falling for the same empty criticisms they also espouse, Guante goes further, revealing both the awesome responsibility an MC has to their listeners (all too often neglected entirely), as well as the potential power of a mic in the hands of someone with something to say. Which isn't to suggest that this will be enjoyable listening for all but the heaviest of rap fans (and perhaps the heaviest of urban strugglers/strivers) -- Guante's level of articulation and nuance will only be truly appreciated by those who understand and experience the conditions he's breaking down. “The rappers say he’s a poet/ he can’t rap, yo/ the poets say he’s a rapper/ he’s just an asshole.”

I’d say he’s a rare bird indeed, misunderstanding is a good sign of brilliance, and El Guante's Haunted Studio Apartment is just what these weary ears needed to get me through another spring and summer of otherwise (suddenly even more) inconsequential rap tunes.

As for the show itself:

El Guante's Haunted Release Party
March 14, 2008 - The Blue Nile
Review by Jordan Selbo

Better Than: Taking Jello shots with your gramma at your cousin's second prison release party

Rap shows around here have begun to feel like particularly-hostile fashion shows, with visiting MCs busting off their obligatory fix of four or five recognizable hits in rote succession and then fleeing the stage with a few tipsy Eden Prairie females, as the crowd struggles to regain hearing for the drive home. That's why Friday's low-key and familial jam down in the Seward area of Minneapolis felt both refreshing and unfamiliar. Refreshing to be sure, what with the Tru Ruts crew interacting warmly with each other and supporting their art with close fans (as well as not a small amount of Friday-night random bar crawlers); unfamiliar because the sense of community El Guante and his posse evoke, in everything from their crew-first attitude to their gentle pleadings to gather around stage to the catalog of songs regarding common struggle and suggestions for collective action. The small and casual but sonically well-equipped venue helped this feeling greatly, despite the fact that El Guante and his ilk have the star power and chemistry to fill a much larger forum.

Opening acts Chantz and See More Perspective kept the mic warm nicely in between DJ Fundamentalist mixing some 90s crowd pleasers. While the former gave off an infectious energy and suggested his age with goofy asides while belying it with noticeable displays of versatility, See More's vibe was almost too intense for the only half-warm crowd to take in. Spitting classical flows with a quick angry tongue over crisp beats, it was hard to digest but I'd be ready to hear him again any day. Third act Truthmaze, the self-proclaimed "Bambaata of Minneapolis," happened to be celebrating his 40th birthday, which was apparent with his brief but enjoyable set of mostly structured freestyles. While being sprung off the Jameson is no excuse for sloppiness, thankfully Maze's off the head charisma and off the wall flow kept his set entertaining and light, especially in contrast to what preceded and followed. The dude deftly switched from booming Reggaeton to on point beatboxing to - City Pages (Minneapolis)


"...moves fluidly between rap and spoken word with the rhetorical and lyrical density of an El-P or an Aesop Rock, with the politics of Dead Prez and The Coup, and with a voice that at times sounds reminiscent of Common...Equal parts insightful and incitef"

By Justin Schell , TC Daily Planet

Recent Minneapolis transplant El Guante (Spanish for “the glove”), whose album El Guante’s Haunted Studio Apartment was just released on Speakeasy Records (part of TrúRúts) conveys a mixture of hope, despair, pessimism, laughter, anger, and all the other things that make us human as we move through life. Guante, a Wisconsin native, moves fluidly between rap and spoken word with the rhetorical and lyrical density of an El-P or an Aesop Rock, with the politics of Dead Prez and The Coup, and with a voice that at times sounds reminiscent of Common.

Haunted Studio is divided into three parts. “Session One: Ghosts” is the album proper, the spectral remains of the recording process. “Session Two: I Fight With Weapons” are three “B-sides” detailing his own lyrical battles with the world as well as finely-honed critiques of so-called “conscious” or “underground” rappers. (These are actually three of the strongest tracks on the record.) Finally, “Session Three: Death Poetry Jam” is a collection of live spoken word poems, as well as “Kodama,” a track named after the folkloric Japanese tree-dwelling spirit, which can also mean an echo.

It is on “Kodama” that Guante deftly summarizes an overarching theme of Haunted Studio: “A song is a lot like life/it’s easy to listen to and harder to write.” The relationship between art and life is touched upon throughout the record, and “Kodama” comes full circle from the album’s opener “Unmastered,” which features Minneapolis hip-hop legend and label-mate TruthMaze’s beatboxing.

All three parts of Haunted Studio are laced with vivid, imagistic mixtures of the commonplace and the extraordinary, from the “shards of sunlight” on “The Fourth Wall” to angels being taken out with surface-to-air missiles on “Bring Out Your Dead,” “wounded bird’s eye views” on “Home Sick Home,” and “singing hand grenades” in the spoken word piece “Love in the Time of Zombies.”

Thematically, however, the album divides between love songs and oppositional political songs, torch songs and songs for carrying torches. While there are many great images and stories told on songs like “Esta Tarde,” “The Illusion of Movement” (which is the first rap song I know to take Zeno’s paradox as its starting point), and “Flicker,” with its slightly disjointed piano and its warm yet worn-out-sounding saxophone, what will probably get Guante noticed are his politics. While Haunted Studio might piss off the Kerstens and Bachmans and Colemans of the world, there’s a good shot that it will also piss off Guante’s fellow rappers who consider themselves “conscious” or “underground.” While criticizing other rappers in hip-hop is nothing new, El Guante’s critiques are not for biting rhymes or being soft, but for not organizing in their communities for social change beyond making simplistic calls for “revolution.”

The bleakest song in this vein is “Orwell Oh Well,” although musically it’s the most upbeat. With its stabs of Love Boat strings atop the “rhythms of extinction” from Madison’s DJ Pain 1, Guante skewers both mainstream and conscious rap as well as the wider musical world influencing and influenced by hip-hop. Elsewhere is his hilarious “A Paid Advertisement,” a spoken word piece detailing a 17-point book that satirically details how to be an “underground” and “conscious MC,” Third Eye Optometry: Freeing the Urban Artist Within. Amidst all this skepticism and pessimism, though, remains a sense of hope, as expressed most succinctly on “This Road”: “As ugly as this life is, I’ve seen enough beauty to keep fightin’.’”

El Guante’s lyrical skills should make him a force to be reckoned with in Minnesota, and his introspective style of rapping will appeal to many of the Rhymesayers-loving fans here. There’s a good chance that his openly oppositional politics might attract listeners far beyond your usual hip-hop crowd.

Equal parts insightful and inciteful, Haunted Apartment is an inspiring declaration for those who love hip-hop’s potential for social change but hate how little that potential’s realized. - Twin Cities Daily Planet


""Chalked full of biting political commentary and with all due respect to Slug, this guy is attempting to carry the Twin Cities on his back""

"Shocking as it may be, somehow between writing plays, literature and poetry and organizing politics, this Minneapolis rennisance man still finds a way to hold down a rap career. Chalked full of biting politcal commentary and with all due respect ot Slug, this guy is attemtping to carry the twin cities on his back. Peep "Home Sick Home" which is Guante's rally-call for some Midwest pride. And He's putting his moola where is mouth is this summer as he takes his spoken word prowess across the Midwest circuit."

http://www.urb.com/promotions/next1000/profiles/992-El+Guante.php
- URB Magazine


""Giving you something to think about while nodding your head to his nimble, casual flow, El Guante could very well follow Atmosphere and P.O.S. in the long-line of outstanding rappers to break out from the Midwest." --CMJ 1/16/09"

"Giving you something to think about while nodding your head to his nimble, casual flow, El Guante could very well follow Atmosphere and P.O.S. in the long-line of outstanding rappers to break out from the Midwest." --CMJ 1/16/09 - CMJ


""El Guante quietly rolled into the Twin Cities' hip-hop and spoken-word scenes with a hand grenade, and pulled the pin. If you look anywhere in those scenes now, you'll see his shrapnel buried deep in every wall..." --City Pages 'Artists of the Year' 12/2"

"El Guante quietly rolled into the Twin Cities' hip-hop and spoken-word scenes with a hand grenade, and pulled the pin. If you look anywhere in those scenes now, you'll see his shrapnel buried deep in every wall..." --City Pages 'Artists of the Year' 12/23/08 - City Pages


Discography

- Vanishing Point (Album) (2005)
- Shotgun Samurai Vampire Hip Hop (Book) (2008)
- Harry Potter b/w Esta Tarde (Single) (2008)
- El Guante's Haunted Studio Apartment (Album) (2008)
- Conscious Is Not Enough Mixtape (Album) (2008)
- Return to El Guante's Studio Apartment: Reimagined and Remixed by See More Perspective (Album) (2008)

Photos

Bio

GUANTE'S ACCOLADES:
~URB Magazine “Next 1000” for 2008
~2008 Independent Music Awards finalist for Best Hip Hop Album and Best Hip Hop Song
~One of City Pages’ “Artists of the Year” for 2008
~2006 Madison Grand Poetry Slam Champion
~2008 Minneapolis Grand Poetry Slam Champion
~2009 St. Paul Grand Poetry Slam Champion
~Three-time National Poetry Slam competitor
~City Pages’ “Best Slam Poet” for 2009
~People’s Choice for “Best Slam Poet” and “Artist/Activist Award” at the 2009 Urban Griots Minnesota Spoken-Word Awards

NOTABLE PERFORMANCES:
~Soundset 2009 w/ Atmosphere, the Pharcyde, Freeway, Brother Ali and MF DOOM
~Ripple Effect 2008 w/ Rage Against the Machine, Michael Franti, dead prez and Anti-Flag
~Forward Music Fest 2008 w/ Neko Case and Killdozer
~Homegrown Hip Hop Fest 2007 w/ Brother Ali and Rhymefest
~Homegrown Hip Hop Fest 2008 w/ Kid Sister and Doomtree
~Iraq Veterans Against the War 2008 National Conference
~Manifestation 2009 w/ Sage Francis, B.Dolan, Building Better Bombs and Cecil Otter
~2009 B-Side Jazz Festival w/ Mr. Lif and Dessa

"Equal parts insightful and inciteful," El Guante's live show is a whirlwind of progressive politics, gallows humor, social commentary and poetic storytelling. An accomplished emcee, spoken-word poet, writer and activist, Guante is able to engage audiences in intimate slam settings, outdoor festivals, fiery punk rock shows or packed hip hop clubs. Guante's shows offer something deeper than a hot beat to nod your head to or a catchy hook to sing along with (though both are definitely part of the experience). This is music with meaning-- political without being preachy, sincere without being humorless, and danceable without being sugar-coated fluff.

For more information, please see www.elguante.net, www.myspace.com/elguante and www.myspace.com/truruts. Booking inquiries can be directed to Tru Ruts at info@truruts.com or 612.288.9491.