NAZEEM & SPENCER JOLES

Nazeem Cunningham met Spencer Joles in middle school, and neither expected to be making music together almost a decade later. “I kind of just went up to him and started freestyling, but we wouldn’t ever freestyle about anything or have it rhyme. It would just be ridiculous,” Joles said. By the time the collaborators, now both 20, made it to Southwest High School, they began writing music seriously, and the two have been close collaborators ever since. “Sometime in high school we realized we could actually kind of make music,” Cunningham said. “At first we were going to start a band similar to Rage Against the Machine, but then we started just writing raps, freestyle a capellas and stuff at lunch, and we just decided to be rappers after that.”

Coming of age in South Minneapolis has impacted their worldview and is referenced throughout their songs. “South Minneapolis is awesome because there’s such a huge hip-hop influence, it’s a huge punk community, and I just like to observe those attitudes and those ideologies in my music and with fashion,” Cunningham said. Their upcoming mixtape, coyly titled The Album, was produced entirely by Joles. It blends deceptive party tracks like “Smoke Daht” with the incise, razor sharp social commentary on “Chinatown Dreams” or “Fallen Souls,” which also features P.O.S. On the latter, they tackle white privilege, the case for reparations, and gun violence. “It’s 13 tracks, with a lot of different types of hip-hop. We’re doing trap stuff, old-school hip-hop, soul beats, and some experimentation on it. It’s a very diverse mixtape. It’s very fun to listen to,” Joles said.

Each raps with a style that pushes forward while the other pulls back, complementing one another’s lyrical flow as each song mounts in rising tension. In addition to P.O.S, the mixtape will also feature Maria Isa and even Muja Messiah — Cunningham’s father. Spencer’s production darts between folk, classical, and pop music, and he says he tries take aspects from each and incorporate them into his beats. “We tried to go with a mainstream palette, but also speak to social justice issues,” Joles said.

“People fight for equality, they fight to be heard, and if I can put that voice in my music, then I’m doing a service for everyone and myself,” Cunningham said. Elsewhere, themes emerge in their work that include “a lot of inner turmoil,” as Joles puts it. “Besides observing the environment, it’s observing the chaos within the self, and not just the chaos, but also the things that are good. It’s intertwining the flow of the inner being with the flow of the lyrics.”

Their influences range from the likes of Kanye West to local up and comers in thestand4rd crew. While the dup appreciates the thriving local hip-hop scene, they see a trend among young rappers in the Twin Cities refusing to be pigeonholed. “It’s not all just Rhymesayers stuff,” Joles said. “They’re really dope, and they’ve held it down for a long time, but we’re starting to some different stuff, like thestand4rd crew. They’re all making good, weird songs. A lot of artists are experimenting and putting work in, and getting recognition outside of Minnesota too.” [Peter Diamond, Local Current]

Past Shows


Mar
1
st
2019
Fine Line
Mar
1
st
2019
Fine Line

Astralblak

with Lady Midnight, NAZEEM & SPENCER JOLES and Sarah White
Feb
24
th
2019
7th St Entry
Feb
24
th
2019
7th St Entry

SHRIMPNOSE and K.Raydio

with NAZEEM & SPENCER JOLES, Destiny Roberts, RADIO AHLEE and more!
Jan
3
rd
2019
Turf Club
Jan
3
rd
2019
Turf Club

NAZEEM & SPENCER JOLES and Seaberg & the Black Velvet Punks

with GUANTE & BIG CATS and BLVCK MADONNA
Sep
23
rd
2018
7th St Entry
Sep
23
rd
2018
7th St Entry

Michael Christmas

with Vintage Lee and NAZEEM & SPENCER JOLES
Aug
16
th
2018
7th St Entry
Aug
16
th
2018
7th St Entry

Hard_R

with NAZEEM & SPENCER JOLES, CHANSA, EVAN SLACK and more!
Sep
8
th
2017
7th St Entry
Sep
8
th
2017
7th St Entry

NAZEEM & SPENCER JOLES

with DJ Keezy
Jan
18
th
2017
Mainroom
Jan
18
th
2017
Mainroom

FIRST AVENUE’S BEST NEW BANDS OF 2016

with The Shackletons, Fraea, Lady Midnight and more!
Jan
6
th
2017
Mainroom
Jan
6
th
2017
Mainroom

Sims

with WebsterX, AIR CREDITS and NAZEEM & SPENCER JOLES
Dec
13
th
2016
7th St Entry
Dec
13
th
2016
7th St Entry
Oct
31
st
2016
Mainroom + Entry
Oct
31
st
2016
Mainroom + Entry

First Avenue's Annual Halloween Party & Costume Contest

with CHRIS CLOUD, GREENERY, DJ ESPADA and more!
Jul
23
rd
2016
7th St Entry
Jul
23
rd
2016
7th St Entry

NAZEEM & SPENCER JOLES

with Sophia Eris, SAINT LARON, UNKNOWN CREATURES and more!
May
28
th
2016
Mainroom
May
28
th
2016
Mainroom

Soundset Official Before Party

with Grieves, deM atlaS, DJ Abilities and more!
Apr
14
th
2016
7th St Entry
Apr
14
th
2016
7th St Entry

NAZEEM & SPENCER JOLES

with ALIBASTER JONES, Cram, UNKNOWN CREATURES and more!

More Shows

Jul
3
rd
Target Center

Rage Against the Machine

with Run The Jewels
Jan
8
th
First Avenue
Sold Out

Doomtree

Jul
27
th
The Fitzgerald Theater

Killer Queen

Dec
31
st
Live Stream

Lucinda Williams