Beyond Bliss: Rap Kerouac

by Paul Whyte

Bliss aka David Kittelson, or now known as Beyond Bliss, has been a regular contributing part of this area’s hip-hop scene for quite some time now. In the last couple of years he has left the Northland a few times to go on tour by himself, mostly at the mercy of whatever he makes from small rap gigs, people he meets on the road, and the shelter of his van. He recently released an EP titled “Rap Kerouac,” an obvious shout out to the famous author and poet, Jack Kerouas, best known for his novel “On the Road.” 

While Bliss is not the first person I’ve seen go off and do a mostly unsupported tour, I have to say that it’s something I find admirable for an artist to do regardless of genre. As a hip-hop artist, it’s probably one of the most challenging styles of music to tour with as an unknown stranger. People spend years in their own town doing original rap or rock gigs and sure, they will become known, but making $20 and a few beers is not uncommon. Many feel happy to break even. The more acts a person shares the stage with might bring in more people but it also might mean not making very much once everyone from the sound guy, door guy, and sometimes numerous performers get a cut. Add this to the on the road stories I’ve heard of accidents, vehicle problems, getting gear stolen, being double booked or just cancelled with no warning, getting tickets for parking or sleeping somewhere frowned upon, and a whole bunch of other problems that can happen. Nothing is really certain for the small time on the road performer. 

Kittelson reflects a little on his experiences while traveling across the United States in this EP, and really most of it is positive. The album opens with the track “Homeless Romantic.” It’s an honest track that sets the tone of wanderlust, “There’s a saying that home is where the heart is, I’ve got a saying that home is where my van sits,” sings Bliss. 

Tracks like “On The Road” carries the feeling that Kittelson genuinely enjoys his travels. I’m not really sure where this album was recorded, but the track “CaliSota” featuring Watzreal, shows that he may have met other traveling artists as far away as California. “I’ll trade a snowstorm for an earthquake, it gets so cold in my birthplace,” raps Bliss about the differences between Minnesota and California. The comradery between the artists is obvious and while it seems that Kittelson spends a lot of time on his own while touring, meeting others that are doing similar things deepens his experience. 

While this album isn’t very long, I appreciate that it has a definite theme that Bliss shares with the listener. In that sense, he has created some stories from real life experience that can be shared. This is not the most technical material I’ve seen from him as far as meter and rhyme, but it stands out as a chapter in his life, which I find at least respectable and interesting. 

This new album can be found on bandcamp.com, it can be downloaded for free or make any donation that you think it might be worth. Proceeds will likely go towards the next time Beyond Bliss takes off to show the Nation his lyrical talent. 

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