Behind the voices of two Midwestern hip-hop artists

Words by Lauren Manecke
Video by Brooke Haesemeyer

The words “rap” and “hip-hop” tend to have a negative connotation to them. People want to associate those types of music with sex, money and drugs – but it’s more than that, it’s feelings. And for two hip-hop artists from Minneapolis, their music is like a mix-tape: different types of songs and artists put together in one city and state. These rappers are Antonio Fixx and Stylz.

Rapping since a young age, Fixx and Stylz have found their voice in the music industry right here in the Midwest, and they do it through storytelling.

“Hip-hop should come from the heart,” Fixx said. “It’s what you actually sit down and think about and what you are going through. If it’s not written and it’s not life events, I’m not going to feel it that much.”

Those strong feelings of hip-hop started for Stylz when he was thirteen. Stylz and his grandfather went to a Martin Luther King event in North Minneapolis where a Christian hip-hop group was performing. As a thirteen-year-old boy, Stylz didn’t know what to expect. In fact, he had doubts…until they started to perform.

“They got up there and started doing Christian hip-hop, which I’ve never heard of before,” Stylz said. “I thought ‘these guys are dope as hell.’”

Little did Stylz know, attending that performance would be the start of his career.

Fixx’s story is a little different. His rapping career began in downtown Minneapolis with him taking off his shirt and getting on stage. As a beginning hip-hop artist, he was doing the most to get comfortable and try to make a good impression on the crowd, which led to his first instinct being to take his shirt off. Once he calmed down and started rapping, his performance went smoothly and he knew this was the career for him. He also learned that you don’t have to take your shirt off to be comfortable or to have the crowd feel you, but rather you need to let yourself feel the music.

Stylz and Fixx believe they can be a voice for those who aren’t ready to tell their stories yet. One of those instances is through their latest song, “Pages.” It has two points of views – both true and heart-wrenching.

“‘Pages’ was inspired by a true story told by two different people,” Stylz said. “One side is from a kid whose brother was just recently murdered in the streets of North Minneapolis, and that verse talks about everything he is going through after his brother died. The other perspective in the song is coming from the guy who killed the kid’s brother and the guilt that is eating him alive.”

It’s these true stories that make Stylz and Fixx’s hip-hop music unique. They aren’t in the industry to make money or find fame, but rather to change someone’s life.

Everybody has a story to tell, and they’re here to turn up the volume.

Check out Fixx and Stylz’s Soundclouds to hear more:

Antonio Fixx: https://soundcloud.com/wos-antoniofixx

Stylz: https://soundcloud.com/stylz_rapislife

Portraits of the Plains is a video series that compiles the stories of Midwestern artists to paint with broader strokes a story about the art community in the Midwest.