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Event to bring 'underground' culture to the fore

Park High School graduate Nick Graham will perform as RaeNow at a hip hop event at the Cottage Grove VFW Saturday, June 5. (Submitted photo)

The community of Cottage Grove-based hip hop musicians is larger than most people know, a group of local artists says, and they plan to prove it with a day-long event Saturday, June 5, at the VFW Red Barn.

"It's been a thing that's been going on in our community for a long time, but it's something that's continued to stay in the underground culture," said organizer Jared Muennich of Cottage Grove. "We figured we'd bring it back to the community a little bit."

The event, which starts at noon and features more than 10 hip hop artists, will include an open-mic segment from 8 to 10 p.m., an opportunity for artists who are just starting out to be heard, said Nick Graham, another event organizer and Cottage Grove resident.

Music will be going on inside, while ball games and grilling are planned in the parking lot, Graham said.

"I'll be on the grill all day, and it's the cheapest drinks in town," Graham said.

Graham -- who performs as RaeNow -- said he got into hip hop music performing at parties as a Park High School student.

The 2002 graduate takes his music seriously, having played high-profile Twin Cities venues like First Avenue and the Fine Line Music Café, but he took a year-and-a-half break from music to play arena football in Lacrosse, Wis. and semi-professional football for the St. Paul Pioneers. After sustaining an injury earlier this year that will sideline him for six months to a year, he was quick to get back into music.

He started working with the St. Paul Park group Highland on a couple of songs one day, and within a few weeks he was getting studio time and recording an album.

Graham calls himself a "lyrical conscious kind of rapper," who is trying to get away from talking about himself too much in his songs.

"Nowadays hip hop is just so selfish sometimes," he said. "You talk about how good you are and the type of things that you do and I want to kind of talk about other things and about other people."

Focusing on other people is another goal of the hip hop event. Attendees are asked to bring non-perishable items for area food shelves, and the person who brings the biggest donation wins $50.

If you go

The Barn Bash, a food shelf benefit and concert hosted by Ace-B Mr. Hitchcock, will take place June 5 at the Cottage Grove VFW, 9260 East Point Douglas Road in Cottage Grove.

Grilling, and outdoor games and music by disc jockeys will be going on from noon to 8 p.m. and open mic performances will be from 8 to 10 p.m.

Bigger-name performers will play after 10 p.m. Admission is $3 with a non-perishable food item before 10 p.m., and $5 with a non-perishable food item after 10 p.m.

Performers include: Kavorkian, RaeNow, Sonra, Highland, Modsense, Outreach, allpurpose and Truth Maze, Toxic Waste, AL East, Panama Ray, DJ NASP and Mike Swoop.

To reserve a spot to play during the open mic period, call (651) 334-5663.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

(651) 459-7600