NobleMen Find the Road to Lodo

John Hult

John Hult

At first, the NobleMen may seem a bit too streetwise for a Sioux Falls.

Just look at the posters hanging up on walls around campus. Check the stark portrait of three men in matching white outfits, with bandanas and jewelry.

Then there is their newest CD, The Road to Nobility.

The NobleMen talk about ‘the hustle’ and ‘the game.’ Success in scenes of all sizes is usually a hustle, but few SD acts refer to it as such.There are knowing shout-outs to Notorious B.I.G.’s lyrics and TuPac Shakur’s life on some songs. Then “The Essence” has a few bars from A Tribe Called Quest’s “Bonita Applebaum” tossed in for the hell of it. Just there. Out of left field.

How did all this stuff come together? Aren’t these guys from South Dakota?

Not really. The NobleMen’s Vonnie is originally from Buffalo, NY. He moved to Sioux Falls in high school. He shakes his head when he recalls Sioux Falls kids’ reactions to his style.

“When I first moved here, I hated it,” Vonnie said during a visit to promote the group’s Lodo Nightclub show. “Culturally, I was five years in advance. I mean, I was wearing combat fatigues back in ’92, and people would say, ‘what, are you in the army?’ I’d wear fishing vests and people would say ‘You goin’ fishin?'”

V isn’t the only NobleMen member with diverse cultural roots. Rotate-who attends SDSU-is from Chicago. Tee is the only member of the Hip-Hop outfit born and raised in Sioux Falls.

That’s not to say that they’re trying to be ‘streetwise’ necessarily.

It just helps to explain the differences between the group and the Sioux Falls norm.

“We draw influences from all of the different coasts,” Vonnie said. “So we create something I think is totally different and unique.”

That they believe in their sound is evident. V and Tee both have double associate’s degrees in business, work full-time plus volunteer for mentoring programs. Tee and Rotate have children to look after.

Despite the full-time lives they lead, the NobleMen find time to write, record and do shows. They sold 5,000 copies of their last CD, Odyssey, on foot and out of cars. Last year, they walked 30 miles up and down Daytona Beach every day selling the CDs.

They recently played for 4,000 people at a show with old school rap icon Too Short.

“It takes a dedication something gross,” V said, quickly adding that the work is worth it for more than the pay. “A lot of these people want something, man. They want to be able to say, ‘these guys are really good, they’re legitimate and they’re home team.”

The Lodo show is just one example of home team support. Ernie November and Last Stop CD shop in Sioux Falls sell the group’s CDs. The University of Sioux Falls’ KCFS radio station plays the NobleMen, and 104.7 has even started spinning a song or two.

The Road to Nobility will be available at the all-ages show.

#1.886706:1209467963.jpg:Nobelmen.jpg:Vonnie of the NobelMen, a Hip-Hop group from Sioux Falls, discusses his group?s past, present and future in Outback Jack?s Friday afternoon.: