MUSIC | Maria Isa at First Ave: Dues repaid

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Last Friday, First Avenue’s Mainroom hosted the CD release of Street Politics, the sophomore album by reggaeton emcee Maria Isa. Around 1,000 attended the show hosted by Muja Messiah, who also performed that night alongside I Self Devine, Dance Band, Mayda, Kill the Vultures, and St. Paul Slim.

Despite a great lineup of acts, the crowd didn’t arrive until after ten. The club was nearly empty when Mayda performed, and Kill the Vultures and St. Paul Slim had already performed at that point. Dance Band appeared to bring in a group of fans, and got the party started. Vocalist Captain Octagon stripped down to his tiny red gym shorts, evoking a little Har Mar Superstar nostalgia. I Self Devine livened a growing crowd, demanding participation by call and response throughout his set. It remains a wonder why I Self Devine remains such an underestimated emcee. After a night of freestyling and entertaining the crowd between sets, Muja Messiah hit the stage with some new tracks, as well as performing hits from Thee Adventures of a B Boy D Boy.

But the show belonged to Maria Isa. Anticipation was high as a video about Street Politics played before the screen lifted to reveal the performer, her seven-piece band, and a trio of backup vocalists. Isa started with “Image,” showcasing the musician’s talents as a vocalist and emcee. The performer’s really a triple threat, however, with dance as her not-so-hidden talent. Maria Isa tore up the stage in all three realms throughout the set—and did it all in style, wearing a colorful print dress with electric blue tights and tropical flowers tucked behind her braids. Early on Maria Isa turned the stage over to a performance dancer, and later welcomed album guests Muja Messiah and Killa Capone to the stage. Maria Isa bookended her set in the encore with “After Party”—the final track on Street Politics—and introduced members of her band, also known around town as Leroy Smokes.

The album release represented repaid dues for one of Minneapolis’s finest emerging talents; thanks to support from a great lineup, friends, and fans, the night was a great success.

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