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Darren Sipity is a Native American hip-hop artist from the Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. He just got done performing a few shows in the area celebrating the release of his sophomore album “Nobody Spectacular EP.” He currently resides in Pine City, so I’m guessing he ends up performing in Minneapolis more than in his birth place of Duluth. I personally haven’t heard of him before but he does have some ties to the Twin Ports so it seems worthwhile to give him a mention.
As the title would suggest, there is little ego in this album. The well done beats and samples hold down Sipity’s flowing lyrics that deal with an appreciation of life, social commentary, making music, and a definite connection to the Northland with a unique Native American view point. Those who enjoy hip-hop from the region should find this album easy to get into.
The album opens up with the track “Lifetime.” Sipity reflects a little on his path to being a hip-hop artist, “They say I’m unique for a rapper from Minnesota…lately I’ve been on the road, I live for my goals, I live for the fact I don’t have to sell my soul to play these shows.” While Sipity might say he’s “Nobody Spectacular” he at least points out that rap has been a long time thing for him. The thing I find interesting about Sipity is that a lot of rappers and DJs have a rap name or a handle, he just sticks to his name. If the title wasn’t enough to make one aware that Sipity isn’t a rapper who is full of himself, the album cover of him holding his child almost gives the impression that this might be a folk album is one where to judge off the cover alone. I get the feeling that while “Nobody Spectacular” is mentioned a few times on the album, he wouldn’t have put the effort into putting together this well done album.
I do appreciate that Sipity has a definite outlook on overall society. This is expressed in songs such as “Like a Dream.” “What a time to be alive, drones in the sky, fucking track phonin’, track you on your phone til you die/Poems for the wise/You claim to be the truth but everyone knows you’re more known for your lies.” Issues such as police harassment and shootings stemming from racism to capitalism and greed to environmental issues pop up regularly throughout the album. There are definitely deeper messages here and there that fill out this material.
One part where Sipity sets himself apart from many rappers is his Native American heritage. One track that makes no mistake about this connection is “Shinaab Faces.” “Shinaab” being short for Anishinaabe. The song does make references to smoking weed, being broke, and not exactly being totally lawful. While these things come up, he still shows respect to his tribe and Native way of life.
Likewise, the song “Who Are You” fully grips where Sipity is coming from, “Just a Native kid, trying to find a way to live, the way my ancestors did, how they used to take and give, back to the community, provide for the people.” While the song does have a Native perspective, it remains inclusive to people of all races and backgrounds. He manages to give plenty of nods to his heritage, but not to the point where most into hip-hop wouldn’t be able to still find this album solid.
I really have no idea when Darren Sipity will be back in the Twin Ports to perform, but I can say that this album can be found for free on Bandcamp. Overall, there’s some balance in the EP, as in it stays humble and honest, yet still doesn’t hold back when calling out social problems.