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Dem Atlas

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deM atlaS’ new album Bad Actress is only the latest in a string of releases, but in some ways it feels like a debut.
Not only because it’s his first proper LP, but also because it represents the culmination of a twisting creative path that he’s patiently been following since his teens. He was a poet, a painter, and the frontman for a rock band before he found his space in Minneapolis’ prolific rap scene. Once there, a philosophy of saying yes to any opportunity eventually led him to a showcase in front of Rhymesayers CEO Siddiq, followed by a single recording session with Atmosphere beatmaker Ant that kept going until they’d made an entire album.
The title Bad Actress comes from his inability to hide his true feelings, and he’s packed the album with unguarded emotions centered by a lifetime of unhealthy relationships, struggles with mental illness, and an indomitable drive to overcome them. From the grime-caked beats to the confessional lyrics to the supercharged guitars laced throughout, Bad Actress is an album that’s deeply rooted in Minneapolis’ singular hip-hop scene, where boom-bap never went out of style and raw honesty still beats flashy materialism. deM’s soulful singing voice, and his ability to navigate from the acidic Sly Stone funk of “Gratitude” to the acoustic balladry of “Music Man” to the purple-tinged minimalist gospel of “Runnin Back” make it clear that he’s one of the young talents who’s going to author the next chapter in Minneapolis’ musical history.

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