By Emily Buss
In recent years, the rap and hip-hop scene has been trying to change its harsh image into one of positive messages and giving back to grateful communities. And, right here in the Twin Cities, many are doing the same thing. It’s hardworking artists like Michael “Mike Dreams” Hannah who are working fervently to continue the cycle upwards and maintain the positive image. As a proud member of the local music scene, Hannah takes is role seriously. Active with the youth of the metro, Hannah uses his music to not only reinvent the scene, but help keep youths striving for global change.
CBS Minnesota: So Mike, explain to me who you are and what you do?
Michael Hannah: I am a hip-hop artist and a writer from the Twin Cities. I was born in South Minneapolis, to be exact. As a hip-hop artist, I’ve been active here since 2007. I’ve been rapping essentially since I was 9 years old. I also am a writer, in many aspects. I’ve done some freelance journalism, mostly music related, for a few online publication, most prominently REFINDEDHYPE.COM. I write songs for other artists, in other genres of music, as well as poetry. I work directly with a non-profit organization called Youthrive as a college scholar. Youthrive is the upper Midwest affiliates of International PeaceJam, where we work with youth in the community and connect them with a Nobel Peace Laureate to come up with a plan to further help global change. A derived program from Youthrive is a section called Youthrive! Live, which I co-founded with Amplified Life founder, Larry Lucio, where I also serve as a performer. A group of musical performers (including myself, Maria Isa, Heatherlyn, DJ Snuggles and more) travel to various elementary, middle and high schools, as well as youth conferences and correctional facilities, to perform as well as conducted workshops on creative expression to create positive change.
CBS Minnesota: How did you get your start here in Minneapolis, Mike?
Michael Hannah: As I mentioned before, I’ve been rapping since I was a kid, but I would say that I really began a “legitimate” career in 2007. I did some of my first local live performances through the now defunct youth organization, Yo! The Movement, founded by Rhymesayers artist Toki Wright and Amplified Life founder Larry Lucio.
CBS Minnesota: Why is what you are doing in the Twin Cities important?
Michael Hannah: I think it’s important because I am trying to be a part of and carry on such a legacy of music here in Minnesota. I feel a lot of people my age don’t necessarily know how deeply delved our area’s history is when it comes to music; from the days of Bob Dylan, through the 80s, with Prince, Alexander O’Neal, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, The New Power Generation, etc. It’s something that the new wave of musicians and artists need to carry on, so I’m working hard to make those originators proud, as well as leave my mark for myself and my generation.
CBS Minnesota: What is your favorite thing about working in the Twin Cities music scene?
Michael Hannah: There’s still so much to be accomplished and achieved. We’ve done a lot, but there’s a lot more to know, and a lot more people need to know how talented we are. Just to feel like you’re on the verge of that, and possibly at the helm of that, is something organic and magical within itself.
CBS Minnesota: Five-second shameless plug … GO!
Michael Hannah: Check out my two full-length independent albums I released last year, “Dreamer’s Poetry,” and “Just Waking Up,” respectively, at MikeDreams.Bandcamp.com, and look out for more new music this coming spring, as well as my third independent studio album, Millennial.
Emily Buss is a music journalist from Minneapolis and author of On the Rechord blog. On the Rechord is a music site dedicated to the local music scene in the Twin Cities. Emily writes concert and album reviews, band and artist profiles, and provides information about local shows. A college graduate with a degree in Mass Communications with an emphasis on Journalism, Emily has been professionally writing for newspapers and online outlets for six years. You can find Emily at www.ontherechord.com, on Facebook at On the Rechord and on Twitter @TheEmilyB.