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Best Picks June 1–14

Updated: May 30, 2017 - 3:05 pm

What to do downtown after work

Woman of La Mancha

Minneapolis hip-hop fans have likely heard the voice of Claire Monesterio months or years before she unveils her first solo release this month.

Monesterio, better known as Manchita, took the local music world by storm the past few years as part of GRRRL PRTY, a collection of rappers — Lizzo, Sophia Eris, Manchita — with the support of DJ Shannon Blowtorch known for their attitude-laden bangers. In a group of seasoned Minneapolis performers, Manchita stood out with her sly quips and breakneck bars. Now, the singer is set to exhibit much more than her bravado in her debut release, an EP dubbed “One.”

Monesterio got her start in music as something to do to avoid homework, then dancing, cheerleading and performing in musicals growing up. Then came an invitation to rap with local music veteran Ryan Olson (Poliça, Gayngs). And it happened again. And one thing led to another.

“I had no intention of making music,” she said. “I realized it’s vital to my vitamins.”

For Monesterio, the name Manchita means a stain, blemish or a small imperfection like a scar — “something that is hampering the perfection of something,” she said.

“It’s bringing out a side that’s not bright. I think I’m exploring the stained bits of me,” she said.

It also honors the Minneapolis resident’s upbringing and cultural identity, which were heavily influenced by Spain. Monesterio speaks Spanish, though she hasn’t brought it into her songwriting just yet.

To put together “One,” the rapper would have to work with GRRRL PRTY collaborator Bionik, a producer who supports her live performances. Save for a few verses she found in old notebooks, the songs from the EP were all written fresh for the record.

Manchita released the lead single, “Head Right,” earlier this year. The track, jazzy R&B-tinged, is noticeably different from the artist’s aggressive persona with GRRRL PRTY. Moving effortlessly between moody verses and singing hooks, Manchita gets intimidate, tackling mental health and letting go.

On “Cashed,” her first solo music video, Manchita’s voice is surprisingly smooth, floating just over the production. Clad in a fishnet face mask, the rapper crunks and sings the dark lullaby.

Rather than worry about how her debut EP will define her, Manchita said the songwriting process took its own route.

“I wasn’t really letting myself think about what people were expecting,” she said. “I think that question still kind of scares me.”

If the first few sounds of Manchita’s solo work are evidence of anything, it’s that local hip-hops fans will soon have another exciting release to check out this year.

Manchita will release “One” on June 9 when she’ll take the stage at First Avenue’s 7th Street Entry with Bionik and a lineup of local artists. There’s Lady Midnight, DJ Keezy, Mina Moore (Monesterio’s childhood friend), Eric Mayson and DJ Shannon Blowtorch.

Manchita recommends readers give a listen to “PRBLMS” singer 6LACK, who released “Free 6LACK” last fall,” Chloe x Halle, YouTubers-turned-R&B duo and Beyoncé scions that released a mixtape dubbed “The Two of Us” in March, and — of course — Kendrick Lamar.

Photos by Zane Spang
Photos by Zane Spang

Photos by Zane Spang © 2017Art on wheels

While custom cars get all the attention on shows like “Counting Cars,” “American Hot Rod” or, even better, “Pimp My Ride,” custom bikes don’t quite inspire the same fervor. Yet, in the Twin Cities we’ve got plenty of custom makers building their own unique set of wheels. MinneCycle, known as the state’s premier handmade custom bike show, is giving these bikes a platform. The star of the show is a Prince tribute bike complete with its own white leather crying dove bar tape from local builder Peacock Groove, which won Best in Show at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show and Philadelphia Bike Expo. There’s a huge range of bikes to check out, from Chris Kvale’s refined classic track racing frames to the high-performance, ultra-light carbon bikes from Matt Appleman. The show takes place on June 3 from 11 a.m.–7 p.m. with a pre-show ride at 9 a.m. at Peacock Groove, 2718 E. 27th St.

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A cider a day

You don’t have to go far to find a craft beer in Minneapolis these days, and in Northeast Minneapolis, every other block seems to have its own craft brewery. What you don’t see is cider, save for Sociable Cider Werks, which is getting its own week to celebrate all things apples and boozy cider. The craft cidery is hosting ApplePalooza! to commemorate Minneapolis Cider Week with daily events from June 5–11. On Monday, June 5, Sociable is hosting four-course dinners from Red River Kitchen & J.D. Fratzke. On Tuesday, the taproom will be breaking out the good stuff with a Firkinpalooza cask blowout. For Sociable fans, it will release the first of its barrel-aged series with Freewheeler aged in sauvignon blanc barrels on Thursday. Finally, there will be a Sunday brunch with make-your-own cidermosas — why haven’t I thought of that before? — and food from Red River. Sociable has more info at sociablecider.com.