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A wife, a husband and their Legacy in south Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS — Art brews at the corner of 46th and 41st in South Minneapolis. "It totally feels like it's a part of our story," Sarah 'Fancy' Lanier-Duncan said. "It feels like it's a part of our journey, all the work that we've done musically." Sarah, who prefers to go by her stage name Fancy, and her husband Emmanuel 'Envy' Duncan' are joined in life and in music. Collectively known as iLLism, the duo first found each other at an AT&T call center, years ago. "He introduced himself to the group--we go around and do an ice breaker—tell us your name and something you do, and he stood up and said, 'I am who I am, and I rap, and I have a show coming up Friday,'" Fancy recalled. Fancy knew, then that music was going to be their thing. "From there we were just friends, we were friends for a good long while," she said. "We'd go on lunch breaks together, I'd bring mixed CDs, back when CDs were a thing." That medium-- of a mixed CD-- is where Fancy professed her love for him, before he left for Atlanta, in pursuit of his music career. "Before I left, she gave me a note and a CD," Envy said. "A mixed CD." "Woooo mixed CD!" Fancy interjected. "But this mixed CD was different," Envy said. "This mixed CD-- it kind of like told me her feelings? So all of the songs, just like, it meant something. She likes me and obviously, the letter said it all, and the mixed CD gave me something to think about while I'm driving way down." Home is where the heart is and ultimately where the art is for them. So ever since Envy came right back, they've been creating music, in the south Minneapolis studio they call their Legacy. "So it's kind of like a one-stop-shop, you can achieve anything here," Fancy said. "And that can be really really hard as an artist because we find ourselves a lot of the time, having to go so many different places, dealing with a bunch of different people that too, have one idea about how they want to help you, how they want to support you-- or not support you." The creative space for both audio and visuals, while they own it, belongs to the community. They said they specifically prioritize lifting up BIPOC artists. The reason is simple. They needed this kind of help too when they were just starting out. "There's a difference in culture, a difference in language sometimes even," Fancy said. "So we're really glad that we can prioritize people of color and give them the space where they feel comfortable and safe to express themselves in their art." The Legacy building is also where the artist has become the investor. "We ask ourselves, are we the example? Sometimes you have to be that person, no one else is doing this, we're going to do that, and at least this opens the door to maybe inspire other people," Envy said. "Build a tribe," Fancy added. "Build a community and they will come." The Duncans, who have always invested in music, are now making another investment, this time in the community. You can find iLLism on all the music streaming platforms. Their next big project is putting together "Soul of the Southside," a neighborhood Juneteenth celebration.

'It is truly a blessing to be Black': Artist showcase uplifts Black creatives in the Twin Cities

MINNEAPOLIS — On the corner of East 46th Street and 41st Avenue South in Minneapolis, there's an art studio that curators hope will be a second home to Black and brown creatives. Sarah "Fancy" Lanier-Duncan and her husband, Emmanuel "Envy" Duncan, of the hip-hop group iLLism, are the heads of this household: The Legacy Building. "It’s like you’re walking in and you feel a big embrace… a big hug," Fancy said. Last year, the couple transformed the former SolSta Records building into a creative space that serves as a recording studio, art gallery and rehearsal space. It's the culmination of their love for each other, as life partners and as artistic collaborators. Their goal is to break down barriers to access for Black creators in the Twin Cities, providing a place to start or continue growing their careers, as well as a venue to display and sell their work. "I feel like hip hop and a lot of Black art is misunderstood, misinterpreted sometimes," Envy said. "I also think sometimes there’s some unnecessary hoops that people may have to jump through." "Sometimes that translates into other forms of Black art, too, is a certain type of stigma or it’s only accepted or it’s only understood when it’s presented by white faces and spaces," Fancy said. "We’ve acquired all of this knowledge and all of these skills throughout our journey, and it’s time to put that back into our community." Currently they are preparing for a showcase that takes place on Saturday, Feb. 18 from 5:00-9:00 p.m. "4DaLuv" is the second event in a series they call "Unseen Voices." This event's theme is about uplifting the message of love. Along with Envy and Fancy, artist Dio Darlington serves as curator of the show. "A lot of my artwork is centered on my experience as a creator, my experience as a Black man in this world," Darlington said. "I paint out of love, I paint out of the desire to understand the world around me, understand myself." Guests at the event can expect to hear music, see visual art and documentary and participate in interactive activities, such as creating spices for recipes and making cards. There will also be art for purchase.


Longfellow's own creative haven

The Longfellow music scene has expanded with the opening of The Legacy Building at 46th and Minnehaha, a block away from the Minnehaha Recording Company. It’s the kind of space that Sarah (aka Fancy) and Emmanuel (aka Envy) Duncan wish they would have had when they were young.

Take a tour of South Minneapolis' new Black-owned creative space 

South Minneapolis will see newfound creativity after The Legacy Building, a joint recording and art studio, rehearsal space and pop-up shop run by a local hip-hop duo, opened in the Hiawatha neighborhood just north of Minnehaha Falls in June.

The Legacy Building opens its doors in South Minneapolis

A new Black-owned creative space officially opened its doors with a ribbon-cutting ceremony this past Friday, June 17. Community members came together to celebrate the grand opening of The Legacy Building, an all-in-one photo, and video studio, recording studio, practice space, and storefront for creatives to rent and utilize. Emmanuel Duncan and Sarah Lanier-Duncan are a married couple who decided to create a space for creative expression in South Minneapolis. As local artists themselves, known as the Hip Hop duo “ILLism,” the couple understand the importance of what it means to have access to creative spaces. Related Story: Black Business Spotlight: The Legacy Building “I think access is going to be the hugest thing for me,” Duncan said. ”Having the space for people to operate is probably one of the toughest things especially if your skin looks like mine.” A crowd of family, friends, and community members gathered outside the doors of The Legacy Building as the couple gave a few words to welcome everyone into the building. “For us… our whole mantra is: connect community and create excellence,” said Lanier-Duncan. “We want to be able to collaborate with people and different creatives.” Some local musicians couldn’t help but show their support. Colin Mitchell, a local drummer who goes by the name “RAWTWHYLAH”, hosted a jam session for the grand opening. Many people who were just walking outside that evening were drawn to the infectious tunes. Mitchell says that The Legacy Building opens so many doors for artists like himself. “This is just only going to unite so many musicians and different artists from different walks of life,” Mitchell said. “It’s just a beautiful thing for everybody.” Plenty of community members are also excited to see what The Legacy Building will bring to their backyards. Ian Taylor found out about the ribbon-cutting by noticing a flyer attached to the building’s window a few days prior to the event. “I’m excited to just see a new Black-owned organization that’s going to uplift and energize some of the creativity that we see in the city,” Taylor said. “We’re contributing to the growth of our people,” Lanier-Duncan said. “When we do that, the community for people who are Black and look like us can flourish.” The Legacy Building is a space for “creatives to build their legacy,” Duncan said. “They say if you build it they will come. We built it. So come.”

iLLism Builds New Home for Twin Cities Creatives

The Legacy Building, a brand-new Black-owned business located in South Minneapolis, had its grand opening on Friday, June 17th. Founded by Emmanuel Duncan and Sarah Lanier-Duncan of the group iLLism, The Legacy Building’s mission is to foster growth and connect the community through music. Emmanuel and Sarah hope the Legacy Building will create a space for artists of all kinds to create their legacy. “We built this place out of necessity,” Emmanuel responded when asked why the building was created. As artists themselves, iLLism found it hard to find the resources needed to create. Obstacles outside of music kept them from creating. By founding the Legacy building, they hope to eliminate some of those barriers by being the provider of necessary services for anybody in the community who needs them. Amenities for creatives in the Legacy Building include a natural light studio, performance space, a recording studio, and a storefront. “We did this for our family,” Sarah said during her ribbon-cutting speech. “This building doesn’t just secure us with a space to create, but our kids and your kids as well.” It was the belief that creators are stronger when people work collaboratively that founded the Legacy Building. The weekend included an in-house jam session, community forum, children’s book festival, and Black movie night. The grand finale was the Soul of the Southside festival held on Juneteenth at Hook and Ladder in Minneapolis -- A free community festival showcasing local artists and businesses. Artists and community members in attendance on Friday shared a sense of excitement for the new possibilities the Legacy Building represents. “It’s named Legacy Building for a reason,” Sarah said. “Today, we are making history.”

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