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Sound Circuit

Keep Des Moines fresh


Des Moines has been slowly cultivating its local hip-hop scene for years. From bonafide local legends like Asphate and Gadema to the next crop of talent like Toby Diligent and Angle, there is plenty of quality hip-hop being created in the capital city.

MarKaus hosts FreshenUp at the Des Moines Social Club on Friday, April 22.

MarKaus hosts FreshenUp at the Des Moines Social Club on Friday, April 22.

Adding to that scene is a new regular series at the Des Moines Social Club called FreshenUp, which is the brainchild of a 25-year-old transplant from Kansas City who goes by MarKaus.

MarKaus had been a writer but didn’t start rapping until he was 15. After moving to Des Moines at the age of 18 and now calling it home, MarKaus sees the potential here.

“The thing about the Des Moines scene is that it’s a great blank canvas,” he said. “Especially the teens; they’re so talented and impressionable.”


Last year, the Social Club approached MarKaus about establishing a residency at the Basement Bar. From that invitation, he developed the idea for FreshenUP, which has developed into a regular, themed exposition of homegrown hip-hop talent.

“I thought it would be great to incorporate other artists,” he explained. “So we mix it up. We’ve had producer showcases, rap battles, under 21s…”

MarKaus said he develops the idea for each production with one or two artists in mind, but filling out the rest of the bill is never a challenge.

“I’m approached by artists all the time,” he said. “Introducing themselves, handing out mix tapes, rapping for me at events. There’s a lot of talent out there.”

And, he says, the regular Social Club events are just the beginning.

“We have a festival this is leading up to Aug. 19 and 20,” he said. “It’s going to be a two-day hip-hop festival at the Social Club. It’s going to be a little bit of everything.”

MarKaus has a strong affinity for Des Moines and the hip hop culture he sees here. With each FreshenUP event, he is introduced to new performers and more fans of the genre. And he sees no reason why it cannot continue to grow.

“There’s so much lyrical talent here,” he said. “I can get every style of production that I need here. It’s a diamond in the rough. I feel like Des Moines could be like Queens when hip-hop was born. It seems like the perfect fit.” CV


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