It was just a couple years back that the ReMINDers' Aja Black and Antoine "Samir" Zamundu were playing a Record Store Day set at Independent Records. There was no stage, no sound system to speak of, and maybe two dozen people around to witness it.
And while there's something to be said for intimacy, there's also something to be said for playing Soundset, the world's largest indie hip-hop festival.
"To perform those same songs and see 10,000 people waving their hands from side to side, like actually doing that while we played, was unbelievable," says Samir of the conscious hip-hop duo's summer festival appearance. "Right before we went on, Aja and I looked at each other and, at that moment, there's a couple seconds where you're like, 'We're really about to do this?' And then, you know, once the music starts, it's second nature."
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Actually, Soundset was just one of the high points for the duo over the past year.
The ReMINDers released their sophomore release, Born Champions, last September. The couple got the album pressed just in time to join hip-hop heavyweight Brother Ali on his Mourning in America tour, which managed to sell out two nights at First Avenue, the legendary Minneapolis venue where Prince and the Time famously battled it out in the film Purple Rain.
"We printed up 2,500 and we came back with about 500 left," says the emcee, who figures it took at least two years to sell that many copies of their 2008 debut album.
For all of that, the ReMINDers still have a relatively low profile here in their hometown. "It's tricky, because there's not that many venues here that have hip-hop shows," says Samir. "So that's why a lot of times we wait for the What If Festival, and the [Indy] Music Awards, and things like that."
But what about all those Tech N9ne and Juggalo tours that come through town? "Well," says Samir, "they usually bring all their openers with them."
2nd place: Mad Trees
3rd place: Bullhead*ded