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Junior Nick Sweiven and musical partner Jordan Lapping of the Cannaholics rap about everything from dollar tacos to a car accident.
Their new mixtape, named “Project Colorful,” is their second major release and the beginning of a new era for the Bloomington natives.
“It’s crazy to look at how much we’ve progressed,” Lapping said.
Friends from a young age, Sweiven and Lapping took an early interest in hip-hop and freestyling but became more serious about their music during Sweiven’s freshman year at St. Thomas.
Originally, releasing tracks under their nicknames Kid Norman and JayLap, Sweiven and Lapping chose the moniker “Cannaholics” around the same time they invested in professional recording equipment and released their first official mixtape, “Up & Floatin,’” in November 2011.
Sweiven explained that “Cannaholics” is actually an acronym that stands for “creating a new noise aimed hereout on living in complete serenity.”
Lapping said the Cannaholics’ sound is “kind of like indie hip-hop” and described the group’s vibe as “fun, uplifting, party, kind of like ‘have a good time’ music.”
Sweiven cites Minnesota hip-hop act Atmosphere as a definite influence on both members of the Cannaholics, as well as other underground hip-hop artists.
“We write and rap about how we live, what it’s like to be a 21-year-old in Minneapolis … but we definitely want to cater to more of an educated audience,” Sweiven said. “I feel like a lot of what’s being put out has already been said, and we’re just trying to create a new noise.”
Since their first mixtape, Sweiven said the Cannaholics’ beats and lyrics have improved.
“We’re better writers,” Sweiven said. “(It) starts to make sense to you. Everything kind of just becomes music.”
The Cannaholics recorded part of their mixtape during a trip to Colorado in January, during which they were both involved in a car accident. Sweiven and Lapping wrote the song “Just A Blessing” about their experience, which Lapping named a fan favorite.
On a lighter note, the group also recorded “Dollar Tacos,” written about eating $1 tacos during happy hour in Colorado.
Junior Ben Stassen said he enjoyed the song “On a Cloud,” as well as the production of the whole album.
“I wouldn’t say I’m always about all their lyrics, but they do a pretty good job of how they compile it together,” Stassen said.
The Cannaholics also collaborated with several producers for beats on their new mixtape, including St. Thomas senior Anthony Kasper.
Kasper, who performs under the name DJ Kasper, produced the beat for “Cannaholic Anthem.”
“The beat is just so triumphant,” Lapping said. “It’s really fun to perform. It gets the crowd going.”
Since winning a musical battle out of 20 other acts at Minneapolis’ Red Sea Bar and Restaurant in August 2012, the Cannaholics have performed at Station 4, the Lounge, Honey and their personal favorite, the Zombie Pub Crawl.
The Cannaholics hope to launch a new website and a clothing company this spring, as well as take on a manager, DJ and promoters.
“We’re still taking off and need to stack up the empire,” Lapping said.
Jay Ebben, the professor who taught Sweiven’s first entrepreneurship course, said each business has a target group of customers, or in this case, listeners, and that the Cannaholics project is no different.
“I think it’s smart from that perspective to look at what they’re doing as a business because they are in fact trying to attract customers, and why and how they’re attracting customers is going to be really important to their success,” Ebben said.
The Cannaholics have already begun work on a third mixtape; one that will be themed around their neighborhood in Bloomington, Minn.
“I think that we will always create free music for people,” Sweiven said. “That’s just kind of the way to go now.”
Rita Kovtun can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.