It’s almost been a full year since Grrrl Prty went out with a bang at Rock the Garden, the group’s sweltering, swaggering final performance. So it’s about time Manchita stepped out on her own, just like her ex-bandmates Lizzo and Sophia Eris have done.
Calling it her “sola” debut instead of “solo” — a nod to both her feminist and Spanish-language leanings — Manchita’s new EP, “One,” doesn’t take what probably would’ve been the easy route by just rehashing the hyper bass and rowdy roar of Grrrl Prty. Instead, she and producer Stefon “Bionik” Taylor created a more intimate and personal collection with low-tempo, high-density R&B grooves and slower-stewing, contemplative lyrics.
Turns out the West St. Paul-reared rapper/singer — who’s heading up a release party Friday at 7th Street Entry — has actually been working toward this moment for almost a decade, going back to when she and former boyfriend Micheal “Eyedea” Larsen made music together in his home studio before his death in 2010.
“I was always afraid to rap around him, because his shadow loomed so large,” said Manchita, aka Claire Monesterio, of the late Twin Cities hip-hop legend, who finally heard her rap on a track by Poliça/Marijuana Deathsquads producer Ryan Olson.
“It was one of the last things he heard by me, and he liked it. I felt like he gave me his blessing, and I should keep doing it.”
Manchita has kept at it, all right, but she has been working at her own pace in the interim, teaming with several producers over the years in addition to her collaborative work with Slapping Purses, Grrrl Prty and another short-lived all-star group, Tha Clerb. She just never quite jelled with any beatmakers well enough for long-term until she met Taylor, who has also worked with Lizzo, Aceyalone and even (ahem) R. Kelly.
“For me, there has to be a personal connection and a comfort level to work with someone, and I definitely felt that once I got to know his character,” she said of Taylor. “That was especially important with these songs.”
Some of the songs on “One” aren’t personal in the literal sense, but find Manchita reflecting on some of her friends’ and loved ones’ confidential issues. They range from addiction struggles in the opening track “Cashed” (which she was quick to say is not about Eyedea) to what she called “white privilege and learning to let go” in “Can’t Save You.” The EP’s darkest track, “Shame on Me,” reflects on sexual assault from a unique perspective.
“It’s about being someone who comes from a bloodline of abuse, and the guilt that can come with that,” she explained.
Manchita’s debut is actually not as grim as all that sounds, but she did concede she intends to release some wilder and more playful recordings soon after this one. “It feels good to finally get these songs out, because there’s a lot more we’ve been working on, and a lot of it is very different from this stuff,” she said.
Friday’s release party will also feature performances by Lady Midnight, Mina Moore, Eric Mayson, DJ Keezy and fellow Grrrl Prty alumna Shannon Blowtorch (9 p.m., $10-$12).
A great chance to get glammed up and channel your inner starman for a good cause: Ian Rans will host “Bowieoke: A David Bowie Karaoke Celebration” at the Ballentine Uptown VFW on Friday night, complete with costume prizes and a good cause, Clare Housing for HIV/AIDS patients (9 p.m., $6-$8.) … Jake Rudh is hosting his “Let’s Go Crazy IV” dance party, three days after Prince’s birthday, Saturday at First Avenue (10 p.m., $10-$12).
Between tour dates with Kid Rock (including an Aug. 19 date at Grand Casino Hinckley), Shannon Curfman is back in action with her own band this summer and has a gig Saturday at Shaw’s in northeast Minneapolis. … Shaw’s is also where blues greats the Butanes now play every Thursday, 8-11 p.m., with new powerhouse bassist Jim Anton in tow.
The Pizza Lucé Block Party is already in the oven for Aug. 12 with another supreme lineup, including Craig Finn, Allan Kingdom, Haley (Bonar), Sophia Eris, Tabah and more. It’ll happen once again on the street outside the downtown Minneapolis location, 4th Street and 1st Avenue N. … Hip-hop station Go 95.3 will host its so-called Big Fancy Go Show July 30 on the block outside the Fine Line Music Cafe with Wiz Khalifa, Vince Staples, Bobby Raps, Finding Novyon and Mac Irv. Tickets are on sale via Ticketfly.com for $46-$95.
Downtown St. Paul’s popular outdoor series Music in Mears has started up again, with Church of Cash and 3 Minute Hero both lined up alongside local food and drink vendors next Thursday in Mears Park (6:30-9:30 p.m., free). Others on the schedule include Jillian Rae (June 29), Graveyard Club (July 6), Twilight Hours (July 27), Ipso Facto (Aug. 3) and Chastity Brown (Aug. 24). … Downtown Minneapolis’ free music-in-the-park showcases seem to have all been canceled, probably because nobody could find or hear the shows amid all the construction.