"You have a few hip-hoppers in the Twin Cities that actually get it – the genre was not spawned way-back-when by The Last Poets, Sugar Hill Gang and the rest of them for the primary purpose of dogging women out and posturing like King Kong should be scared to meet you in a dark alley. And you have a few bands who play hellified avant garde jazz. Enter two-in-one force of nature: Junkyard Empire. They come with fiercely innovative music that’ll have you nodding along before you know it, and coat-pulling verse that defies society and the government to get real about positive change."
- Dwight Hobbes
In the tradition of Public Enemy, the Welfare Poets, Gil Scott Heron, Bob Dylan, and all those artists who came before us, speaking truth to power, Junkyard Empire is not just a band, they have developed their own social and political platform, bringing you "truth in the form of live-ass hip hop." They strive to be much more than another great alternative live hip hop band from Minnesota - of which there are plenty - they want to become a musical force for political and social change in America, playing the music that could be called the soundtrack to this country's missing revolution; answering the same call that Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Neil Young, and many more are re-awakening to lately.
Alas, it is not only the politically and socially progressive lyricism of Brihanu that sets this band apart, it's their fearless improvisatory nature as well, for they care not about being slick, or coming off as a well-oiled machine. Instead, they want to appeal as human beings, imperfect at times, but important! As Dwight Hobbes put it, "The combination of Brihanu's forceful lyrics, set to an engaging cadence, and the band's compositions is nothing short of incredible. Think Mos Def meets Ornette Coleman." Damn good company to be in the room with.
Junkyard Empire came together in the summer of 2006, primarily as a jazz/funk/avant-garde group, but as the group found a common interest in the rhythms and formulaic freedoms of live hip-hop, the new direction was undeniable. That's when Brihanu entered the picture; the rest is history.
Since the inception, JE has played many of the Twin Cities finest establishments, including the Fine Line, Mayslack's Music Lounge, the Uptown Bar, the 331 Club, and Bunker's. They have shared the stage with such diverse bands as the Snaps, Watson, Leroy Smokes, The New Congress, Tickle Fight, and Big Ditch Road. The varied bills they perform on is yet another wall they are trying to break down; that tendency for Minnesota bands to fall into a click, only playing bills with the bands they are "in" with. You can expect to see Junkyard Empire playing on bills with bands you would typically never expect to see together. They feel this keeps live music fresh and allows for cross-over influences.
Though they have gone through some early growing pains, usually in the form of finding the right guitar player and bass player, the personnel seems to be pretty well intact, and their debut full-length CD is now completed. They have stayed true to form, recording every track live in the studio on first or second takes.
There has never been a more perfect time for a band like Junkyard Empire to release a CD. Politically and musically, the current environment in the United States is calling for artists to provide the necessary communication to provide sparks for the social movements we have been waiting for in this country. They make no effort to hide the fact that they want to join the ranks of Rage Against the Machine, Bob Dylan, Public Enemy, and all the rest! Don't be surprised when this little working class band from Minnesota suddenly gets played on every independent radio station in the country. People are hungry for what they are unafraid to say. In Brihanu's own words: "It's important, when you have the platform, to say something that has substance."