Geoff HarknessMar 30, 2023
The Twenty-Year Saga of the Greatest Rap Group to Almost Make It Outta Kansas
Columbia University Press 2023
99.9% of aspiring rappers never make it in the music industry. So why do we only hear the stories of the ones who do?
DVS Mindz might be the greatest rap group you've never heard of. Formed in Topeka, Kansas, in the mid-1990s, they developed a reputation for ferocious rhyming and frenetic live performances. In their heyday, DVS Mindz released a critically acclaimed CD, received nominations for prestigious awards, and opened for legends such as Wu-Tang Clan, Run-DMC, and De La Soul as well as KC icon Tech N9ne. But the group struggled with creative differences, substance abuse, ego battles, and money issues, and they split up in 2003.
Geoff Harkness takes readers on a unique two-decade journey alongside the members of DVS Mindz, chronicling their childhoods, their brush with success, and what became of them in the years that followed. Based on more than one hundred hours of video and audio recordings from 1999 to 2022, this fly-on-the-wall account offers a backstage pass into the recording studios and radio stations, video shoots and house parties, nightclubs and concert halls of the Kansas City-Lawrence-Topeka music scene circa 2000.
DVS Mindz: The Twenty-Year Saga of the Greatest Rap Group to Almost Make It Outta Kansas (Columbia UP, 2023) is at once a compulsively readable group biography of four talented MCs, a vibrant voyage through the forgotten history of local hip hop, and a breathtakingly real story of struggling to achieve big dreams.
Alex Kuchma is an MA student in history at York University. He has have researching hip-hop actively and collecting oral histories for more than a decade.