2013 Guante Year in Review

photo by Elliot Malcolm for Dharma Hype
I’m a long-term planner. I knew 2012 would be a huge year, but I had no idea that 2013 would be even bigger. Here’s a sampling of what I did this year. As always, endless thanks to everyone who has supported me, given me opportunities, or just paid attention. A rundown:
1. SIFU HOTMAN (Guante x Dem Atlas x Rube)
This summer, I collaborated with producer Rube and MC (and recent Rhymesayers signee) Dem Atlas for a three-song suite called Sifu Hotman– free digital download or on vinyl. It’s definitely one of my favorite projects I’ve ever been part of, and my first vinyl ever. It’s also been an honor to play shows and just build with these guys– two of the most genuine, cool people I know. We also collaborated with PCP to film in-studio videos of all three songs:

Between March and right now, I’ve written 31 op-eds for new MN-based op-ed co-op Opine Season. The brainchild of Matt Peiken, the site has featured opinion writing from some of my favorite Twin Cities writers: Kao Kalia Yang, Chaun Webster, Ricardo Levins Morales, Vina Kay and more, plus guest-pieces from writers like David Mura and Bao Phi. I’m honored to be in such good company, and am very proud of how much of an impact (both in terms of raw traffic stats and community chatter) the site has made, despite being brand-new and completely community-driven. My full archive is here, though here are a few standout posts:

3. NEW POEM VIDEOS, including “A Visit From the PC Police”
I got to work with Linebreak Media twice this year, and always had a great experience. I love how this one turned out. Also released a bunch of other videos, and finally got serious about cultivating a presence on YouTube. Speaking of that…

My friends at Button Poetry have been capturing performance poetry all over the country, and really blew up this year. My poem “Ten Responses to the Phrase ‘Man Up'” got featured on Upworthy, and my poem “REACH” got released right before the holiday season. I also had a piece published in Button’s e-book “Viral,” which you can order here.

I had the pleasure of working with Tish Jones of TruArtSpeaks on rebuilding and rebranding the youth spoken-word scene in Minnesota. We traveled to a bunch of schools, met hundreds of young artists, and Tish did a hell of a job organizing a whole series of slams to pick a team to represent MN at Brave New Voices. I was the coach, and it was inspiring to witness the growth of these brilliant young artists over the course of an entire summer. Even bigger things coming next year.

A big part of my work that doesn’t get as much attention is working in schools. Through COMPAS, I engage in artist residencies in middle and high schools throughout Minnesota. Sometimes these are just performances, but they’re usually week-long residencies, where I get to teach multiple classes every day and basically just talk about writing and performance with hundreds of MN students. It’s an incredible gig, and this year I was in dozens of different schools.

Aside from working with teens, I also got to travel to dozens of colleges and universities all over the country this year. Between performing, guest-lecturing and facilitating social justice-oriented workshops, I was on the road for much of the year. One standout gig was at El Centro College in Dallas, where I got to stay for a full week and really engage with students. If you want to bring me to YOUR school, check this out.

While college performances are my bread-and-butter, I still get to play the occasional rap show here and there, including a few big ones this year. I played the CD release parties of Mixed Blood Majority, Common Labor, See More Perspective and Homeless; opened for Saul Williams, performed in the First Ave. Mainroom again, played at the MN State Fair, continued the Hip Hop Against Homophobia series, and played a bunch of festivals: the Red Hot Art & Music Festival, the Future History Festival, the Phillips Music Festival, the Grounds & Sounds Festival, and more I’m probably forgetting. I also performed a commissioned piece at the Child Neurology Foundation gala. I also gave a few keynote speeches, played more benefits and fundraisers than anyone else in the universe, and generally just kept busy. Ongoing list of past shows here.

Beyond Sifu Hotman, I got to release a few random songs this year, really just for fun. The video above was shot and edited by Adam J. Dunn and is a personal favorite. Free downloads:

A lot of what I do is stuff you’ll never hear about– consulting, curriculum development, mentorship stuff, etc. I also did a complete overhaul of my website; check out the revamped “resources” page in particular. It’s been the busiest, most exhausting and most rewarding year of my life, and next year should be even more wild. Keep up on Twitter and Facebook. New music video and new mixtape coming in EARLY 2014 too. Thanks!