Sha Cage and e.g. bailey inspire creativity at breakneck speed


The tireless team of Sha Cage and e.g. bailey, a/k/a Minnesota Spoken Word Association, talent agency TruRuts Endeavors, Tru Life Films and Speakeasy Records, are at it again. No sooner has Cage caught her breath after performing in February at Hip-Hop For The Homeless at Triple Rock Social Club (while fighting off the flu) than she and bailey are ramping up to promote their record label’s newest releases. They’ve got newly-signed wordsmith El Guante (the single “Harry Potter” b/w “Esta Tarde”, off the album El Guante’s Haunted Studio Apartment) and the compilation CD, Lightning & Thunder Vol. 1 by a roster of Hip-Hop and Spoken Word artists.

Also in-progress and under tight wraps is the highly anticipated album by wildly popular spoken word artist, musician, songwriter and multi-lingual lyricist Madame Mimi. When that project sees the light of day, it easily will be the Twin Cities’ most rapturously received spoken word release since Sha Cage’s own Amber People album, which dropped roughly a year ago this month.

Albeit in the distance, e.g. bailey has an album forthcoming. bailey snuck out of the spotlight roughly a decade ago, around the time he and Sha founded MNSWA, and hasn’t quite re-emerged since. The scene has not been host to a stronger performing poet in all that time and those who remember bailey as part of the seminal ensemble Sirius B know exactly what I’m talking about. No matter how long it takes for bailey to drop “da proverbial bomb”, it will have been well worth the wait.

El Guante has just come off a mini-tour of the Midwest which concluded on March 14 with an album release party for El Guante’s Haunted Studio Apartment in South Minneapolis’ Blue Nile. By the way, between shows by artists under the Tru Ruts umbrella and the iconic Desdamona’s Tuesday night open mic, the Blue Nile, has become a magnet packing its house. If you didn’t catch El Guante at The Blue Nile, you can visit his Internet site to stay abreast of what’s going on with him. Making a guest appearance on El Guante’s Haunted Studio Apartment is legendary powerhouse Truthmaze.

Meanwhile, Lightning & Thunder Vol. 1 is quite an ambitious undertaking and you can catch the CD release event on March 28 at The Varsity Theater in Dinkytown, near the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus. The disc is a high-powered anthology of 14 cuts featuring 16 artists, many household names on the Twin Cities circuit, including Truthmaze, who contributes the excellent offering, “No Time”.

It’s been a minute since Cage and bailey released this exciting artist’s debut CD, Expansions + Contractions (Psoems 1:1) on Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records. So, Thruthmaze’s inclusion alone on Lightning & Thunder Vol. 1 constitutes eyebrow-raising circumstance. Truthmaze, point of fact, is one of the most important freshly risen stars to grace the Twin Cities over these past few years. While Hip-Hop here remains infested by knuckle-dragging dolts whose respect for women hangs off their behinds along with their drawers, Truthmaze is one of the few young brothas whose love of our mothers and sistahs is as strong as his verse is powerfully articulate. While thugs still glorify gunplay at the mic, he pulls young listeners’ coats to the true consequence of violence-prone, dead-end lives. Small wonder every show he does sells out literally within days of word getting around (he must save Cage and bailey a small fortune in advertising, because they just don’t need it for a Truthmaze throw-down).

Where Sha Cage and e.g. bailey get the inspired stamina to sustain the pace at which they produce such creativity is hard to fathom. They seem to move at break-neck speed and are always so busy getting here and going there, one day they might just pass themselves going the other way. However they do it, the Twin Cities scene reaps a strong benefit. May it ever be so.

Lightning & Thunder Vol. 1 release event, Varsity Theater, 1308 4th St., Minneapolis. March 28, 9PM, $7. Ages 21 and up. For more information: or 612-228-9491.