'1 Mic and 1 Mac' creates one great Brainerd hip hop group
It’s a good thing the family garage is heated with the amount of time brothers Nik and Seth Helland spend out there. Housing their own recording studio and musical talents, the Brainerd brothers have begun to create a hip-hop sensation with Midwest Selects, proving that great hip-hop doesn’t have to come from the “big city.”
“Living in Brainerd, it’s more difficult to get stuff out there,“ said 20-year-old Seth. “But as we’ve kept working at it, and continue to do more and more things to get our names out there, people are starting to recognize, ‘oh they’re from Brainerd and look at the stuff they’re doing still’ and that’s exactly what we want them to think as we start making bigger and bigger moves.”
What started out as a joke with friends in 2009 has sprung in to a full-fledged passion for Nik and Seth, releasing four albums (“Midnight Snack”, “H.I.T.E”, “The ‘G’ Files” and “Brr”) with a fifth expected to drop in the near future.
“I was a freshman in high school, just messing around with friends creating rap videos with a cheap little camera,” said Nik, a senior at Brainerd High School. “After doing that for one night I fell in love with it and started doing it every night.
“Of course at first we really weren’t taking it seriously but as more and more people began to enjoy it, the more we wanted to continue getting our music out there.”
Armed with a microphone, Macbook — the basis for their song ‘1 Mic and 1 Mac’ — and new recording equipment, the Helland dynamic duo has turned out song after song. Putting together Nik’s “wordsmith” and Seth’s “marketing genius” to promote themselves beyond central Minnesota, Midwest Select has played at dozens of venues in the Minneapolis and St. Paul areas, garnering more attention with each set.
“It’s almost like an inner circle of artists in the cities and that’s who you want to get in with to push your music to that next level,” said Seth, who has now added collaborations with some of the best in the Twin Cities to Midwest Selects’ musical resume. “If a big act comes to town, I want to make sure we are with them. So it may mean a bit of traveling back and forth down to the (Twin) Cities, but in the long run, it’s worth it.”
And with the Twin Cities based hip hop label Rhymesayers Entertainment popping out the likes of Atmosphere and Brother Ali who are gaining worldwide attention and first put Midwest underground hip hop on the map, Seth admits that they have paved the way for Midwest Selects’ budding career.
“I want to be involved with Rhymesayers because they have done so much for so many Minnesota underground (hip hop) groups as a whole,” said Seth. “Right now we’re slowly trying to climb into that scene and I really think we are on our way.
“And one day to be at the level of Atmosphere and become a group with that type of following and notoriety would be amazing.”
Chomping at the bit to be labeled “the next big rap group from Minnesota”, Midwest Selects is nominated for three Twin Cities Urban Music Awards, including “Best Song”, “Best Group” and “Next to Blow Up”, placing in the top eight in all three categories through the two rounds. Final voting started Friday and runs through March 9 with the award show hosted in Minneapolis on March 23.
“Just to be nominated is like ‘wow’” Nik said of being up for the awards. “I am so excited to even be considered for anything like that. I never thought that we could really take it to that level and I am just really excited about it.”
Online buzz for the group has only increased with the release of its first ever video “Frostbite”, shot at a variety of locations in Baxter and name-dropping plenty of local towns in the area.
“That was one of the most fun things we’ve ever done in my opinion,” said Nik. “It was just so cool to get out there and put that together...within a few weeks we had so many hits on our video, just turning on more people to our music and what we’re doing.”
Nik said he has Seth to thank for the opportunities, like the music video, that have presented themselves to the Midwest Selects, noting that he has attracted a majority of people to the group. Seth attributes it back to the fans.
“(Midwest Select) is on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, that’s where we’ve really been able to reach people,” said Seth. “Really social networking is everything now so you have to be up to date on that stuff. I would say because of that and because we have fans that share with other people, we have grown.”
And grow they will. From ‘1 Mic and 1 Mac’ to hundreds of fans, Midwest Selects can only continue to make their mark on the hip hop map.
To hear Midwest Selects for yourself (friendly listening for all ages), check out their website www.wix.com/sethhelland/midwestselects and Youtube account www.youtube.com/user/TheMidwestSelects/featured