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The Scouting Report

Minnesota Music Month Scouting Report 2024: sahn


by Natalia Toledo

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 sahn.

At 19, Minneapolis hip-hop/R&B artist sahn has unwavering faith that the path he is on will lead him to where he is meant to be. After releasing a string of singles in 2023, he put out his first EP, devons road, in February. He is currently working on a project titled with a play on words, Place Ad Here, as he is learning to market himself in the music industry and push himself to release more music. “You’re really one project away or one person away, or one article away from getting recognized,” he says. “You have to put out music consistently.”

Here are some highlights from a conversation with sahn at a south Minneapolis coffee shop. He shares some bits about himself and his musical journey so far.

What are some tracks people need to hear from you and why?  

I put out a single last year called “calabasas” about a girl from California. The person who I was working with at the time said that was a bad idea, but I said “We don’t have any plans right now, so why not?” Turns out, it’s a song a lot of people like. I think it’s a song that with the proper pushing, could become like, a huge song, but right now it just stands as the first song I put out.

I just put out a project this year called devons road, it’s a little bit more mature in themes and the message. It’s about a community in London because I was living there for some time last year. You have community there that loves you but at the end of the day you have to pick yourself up. It was like the sister city to Cedar-Riverside. I’ve lived all around the Twin Cities. Now me and my mom moved out to the suburbs. But Cedar-Riverside is where I’m from. My mom does a lot of work in the community. I’m always there, you’re always going to see me there. Being Somali, that’s a dominant community. Everybody’s been there at some point.


What’s one of your favorite music-related memories that happened here in Minnesota? 

I just did a show in Cedar-Riverside in August. It was a bare show. The library commissioned me, I was like “Okay, I’ll do it.” It was me, my guitarist, pianist, and music collaborator. It was just a bunch of Somali kids. The park in Riverside is packed sometimes in the summer nights — from about 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. — packed. The grandmas are selling clothes, the kids are playing in the playground, and boys and girls are playing basketball. So I just set up a table, we set up the piano, set up his guitar, and my mic. No Auto-Tune or anything. It was just me singing to the kids. It was such an amazing memory because they’ve never seen somebody doing that before. As much as we are Muslim — and we stick to those values — in Somali culture we have a lot of musicians, too. For them to see somebody that’s young though — literally 10 years older than them doing that — it was amazing. After our show, they crowded around and were playing our guitar, playing the piano. It was one of those “North Star” moments, where I felt like I was doing the right thing. Obviously, it’s probably not their first time playing instruments, but it was in the community with their friends, it was cool. They loved it.


What does Minnesota music mean to you?

Minnesota music is so raw. I think it’s like a track without Auto-Tune, a song with no plugins, just bare. That’s how authentic it is. What I’ve learned to love about Minnesota music is that somebody in this room, right here in this coffee shop, makes music. You got people making alt music, you got people like Papa Mbye, Huhroon, and all those people on that corner. You got Julian making crazy mixes and showing up to shows in a death outfit. Everybody is inspired in their own way to do different things. And you know, RIP Zodiak, he just passed away. He was a fashion icon in his own way. A lot of people loved him for his music and but also his fashion. We have so many music outlets, like Carbon Sound, The Current, WaterWave. So many different things.

This is the greatest place to be incubating as an artist. That’s why I always want to be here. Even if I reach this level and this level, I’m always going to come back because there’s just something that this place will give me for hunger that other places won’t. You know, Prince said something really funny in an Oprah interview, “I love Minnesota because the cold keeps the bad people out.” This is home. This feeling of togetherness is not for anybody but ourselves, I think. We’re Minnesotans, we’re going to see other Minnesotan shows. There’s so many different people here, and we’re all supporting each other. However, to propel that to the world, we don’t really have the systems to do that and quite frankly I don’t think we were ever meant to. To grow, you have to leave Minnesota, but Minnesota will leave you more equipped than any other place.


Favorite performance you've done? 

My favorite performance is probably the one at 7th St Entry last year. March 7 with Carbon Sound. It was amazing, it was really good. I did band, no band. Packed out. A lot of my own people came and showed up.


What shows do you have coming up in Minnesota? 

I’m performing at the U of M again. I performed last year at Northrop auditorium. It was the biggest stage I’ve performed on thus far. It was huge, like a thousand people there. I was bringing a band to the Somali Student Association. It was an amazing performance and we rocked out the show. I’m performing there again. It’s going to be at the Great Hall on May 7. It will probably be the last show I do for a minute. I just did an EP release show at Soomaal House of Art, the art gallery that I work out of. It was really impromptu, two weeks promotion. But yes, at the Great Hall at the U of M, I’m going to try some new stuff. All the money I make from music, I put it back into performances. I always try to one-up myself.


Is there anything else you want to add or share about yourself?

I appreciate all the people who have seen me. I’m only 19, I just turned 19. To see the young kid I am, seeing the potential and seeing the progress, I appreciate it. I feel like I owe you more of myself that I’m not sharing. That’s what this year will be. I mean, I plan and then Allah plans. I don’t know what’s happening this year, I could die tomorrow, however, my plan is put out a lot of art. Paintings, and videos. I do a lot of stuff. There’s different stuff I want to do but definitely try to get this music stuff off the ground this year. And if it doesn’t happen, we try again. I owe it to people to release more music. Not with the intention of “blowing up,” if that happens bring it on, but because I know I make art of value.

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.