Photo Credit: Ben Hughes

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.

Photo Credit: Ben Hughes

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, 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, on Facebook at On the Rechord and on Twitter @TheEmilyB.

Comments (9)
  1. Research says:

    The mpls hip hop scene is definitely becoming stronger. Most artist in the Twin Cities speak from the heart instead of what deep pocketed individuals tell them what to say.

  2. j speedbag 64 says:

    don’t forget to mention your glock in your waist band there dreamer……

    1. elijah says:

      2nd amendment 2nd amendment

  3. DougT says:

    What the heck does this sentence mean…?

    “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”

    “the scene” is working to change its image – ok – kind of understand that word usage.. But does that mean they give back only to grateful communities and not ungrateful ones? Or that the community had better be grateful …or else??

    Hello? Is there someone around here that remembers the English Language and sentence structure??

    Is this what happens when an art graduate tries to become a journalist?


  4. DougT says:

    “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.”

    Wow – if I understand this sentence it wold be a heavy load to carry around every day –

    And what does “help keep youths striving for global change” mean? –“Youths” ? What kind of a word is that? Perhaps the youthful, the young, but Youths?? – is it like when some say Womensss? (in the singular) – as in “listen up womenssss

    Additionally The German, Russian and Chinese youth were encouraged to “strive for global change” too – at one point in time and their scene changing really did not work out too well….for millions….

  5. TL the alligator says:

    rap and hip hop is a dying form of expression….it IS NOT music and never has been…..its just a bunch of fools makin up stupid rhymes with stupid hand gestures and making stupid grunting sounds when they cant come up with anything else… matter how one looks at it it is degenerate.

    1. Mike Dreams says:

      It’s really sad that it’s been almost 30 years since the first hip-hop song was made, there are still people claiming it’s not music. It’s ignorant, and quasi-Racist, for the most part. Of course, there is a BOATLOAD of hip-hop and rap music that is a HORRIBLE example of what the art form is supposed to be, but nothing is that black and white. You might have to do more searching, but there still is a plethora of great hip-hop music that IS music. Some of it is even more musical than others – with the integration of live instrumentation, etc. It’s 2012 . Don’t be so closed-minded.

      Oh, and for anyone who is going to make the argument of black people ALWAYS playing the race card, take a look at Billy’s comment. Enough said.

  6. Billy says:

    Where is the face in the photo. I think I might have to adjust the brightness on my computer.