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The Scouting Report

Minnesota Music Month Scouting Report 2024: Laamar

LaamarPhoto:James Napoli, Graphic: Natalia Toledo| MPR

by Youa Vang

April 10, 2024

For Minnesota Music Month, The Current polled the local music industry for April’s edition of The Scouting Report. More than 90 people filled out this year’s Minnesota Music Month Scouting Report ballot, and 253 unique artists were chosen overall. The top 10 artists — well, 11 because of a tie — who received the most support include Laamar.

Don’t call Laamar a “buzz artist.” He may be one of the most-discussed local musicians in the Twin Cities in the past year or so, but his goal is sustainability in his craft and finding intention in his art. In the past you may find his work under his given name Geoffrey (pronounced Jee-off-rey) Wilson. But during the early days of the pandemic he found the creative energy to delve in a different direction for this new project.

Via a Zoom conversation, Laamar notes that it was serendipitous that he was able to tap into connections in the music community to get the ball rolling on this new project. These were people that just essentially wanted him to succeed because they saw the work he was doing and wanted to see it come to fruition.

A single, “Home To My Baby,” was released in early 2023, soon followed by an EP, Flowers. The tracks center a lot around racial disparities, George Floyd, and police violence. The timing of these pieces feels in sync with society’s awareness of change in how we view race – a reckoning of sorts that has become so palpable and central.

 Even a decade ago, conversations centered around race and police violence were met differently and so was Geoffrey Wilson’s work. In January, he and his band performed on First Avenue’s mainroom stage for the Best New Bands showcase.

Profile: Behind the scenes with Laamar, one of First Ave’s Best New Bands

Laamar’s resolve for his current project is not to call people out, but rather call them in to better understand his perspective on growing up Black. When writing about heavy subjects, you either need to zoom out or zoom in – the middle ground won’t work.

“When I write, I try to use descriptive language,” he says. “It can be sharp in terms of description on the clarity of violence. I tried to think of this place on [Flowers track] ‘My Kingdom.’ ‘How are we going to live if we can't stop dying / in the car, in the street, from the comfort of our beds?’ I lay it out. I don't say, ‘Here's how you want to feel about it’ or ‘Here's what you need to think about’ or ‘Here's what you should do.’

“It’s an open question,” he continues, “and it opens people's innate sense of morality and allows people to determine what I'm suggesting or what they ought to think about it. The way in which I sing … I want to appeal to folks with a sense of empathy and morality, and also say, ‘We all share this human experience.’”

Becoming a father has also changed Laamar’s view of the world, invoking even more empathy than he ever thought lived inside himself, and it shows up in his music. “Since having my kids, I feel this ability to be connected and empathetic and vulnerable,” he says. Raising his sons to be emotionally aware, available, and connected has helped him as a songwriter and a human being. “Music is only really a fraction of my life. I used to get so nervous and anxious to the point where I couldn’t remember lyrics to my songs. These days, it’s when I have time. I can go get coffee and play with the kids. … Being a father forces you to slow down and try to be present. … I want [my kids] to be able to be emotionally intelligent long before they’re in their 30s.”

Interview: Laamar on finding his voice, his band's sound, and his next record

Looking ahead into the future, Laamar’s music will be released in bite-sized portions over the summer with a highly anticipated album in the the fall. “When people say ‘buzz band’ or ‘buzz artist,’ I feel there’s this negative connotation around it,” he says. “Do I deserve it? Is it gonna last? Is it warranted? I’m trying to let go of all of that and just enjoy. Being almost 40 and having two children, this [success] was very unexpected. And very fun.”

Related:Minnesota Music Month Scouting Report 2024: The top 11 new local artists

Minnesota Music Month Scouting Report 2024: The complete ballots

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This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.