Where Is Milwaukee Hip-Hop Going?
I think that this is a fair question.
Many people inside Milwaukee or related to Milwaukee music view the current state of Milwaukee Hip-Hop as containing the most talented the city has ever seen. In the underground you have artists like the extremely talented
Stricklin who continues to be the beacon of hope for Milwaukee as a member of eMC as well as solo, and Haz Solo who has left Milwaukee to sincerely pursue the dream. On the more commercial side of the scene, you have Ray Nitti that has been busting out behind the club song “Bow”. Then you have commercial/indie hybrid artists like Prophetic who gained an official nod from Pharrell and Streetz N Young Deuces that recently won an award from the Southern Entertainment Awards for Indie Group of the Year, that continue to gain support from all kinds of different Hip-Hop fans.
Around the blogosphere you have artists like Signif, Dylan Thomas, House of M, KingHellBastard, The Lab Partners, Kid Millions, Adebisi, SPEAK Easy, Dana Coppafeel, Scott Knoxx, Melissa Czarnik, Taiyamo Denku, Adlib, and Frankie Flowers, to name a few, that are making some impressive amounts of noise in certain areas. There are also some very strong artists like Yo-Dot and Pacino, and the groups Misen Lync, Payroll and Patski, and The Cranberry Show, which are gaining a lot of local steam.
At the beginning of the year one of the largest Hip-Hop websites, HipHopDX, decided to sponsor and put out a mixtape with all Milwaukee artists and most recently the CT based Mad Bloggers did a whole month on Milwaukee Hip-Hop and then capped it off with a two “disc” mixtape further pushing forward the MKE scene to outsiders.
Milwaukee has already has several solid projects drop in 2010 and there are lots of releases scheduled for the rest of the year from every different camp. UMG, Uni-Fi, EMP, Ivy League, A-Team, etc. are all reported to have several projects dropping in 2010. However, are any of these releases going to be “the one” that breaks Milwaukee wide open or will a cluster of them work together to bring serious media attention to the city?
There has been a faux sense of togetherness surrounding the scene that is starting to fall apart in certain areas. Now, this can either be good or it can be catastrophic for everybody. Having a high level of competition is of course good. People create better music when they know other people are breathing down their neck. People strive to pull the best from within. That competition is what has brought the level of talent up to where it is today and that’s why some people both inside and outside of Milwaukee are starting to really take notice.
However, it can quickly get petty and the guns that are turned on those who continue to ignore Milwaukee can easily turn in on those who are creating the scene itself, thus once again making king of the hill more a game of king of Center St./Bayview/North Ave./_________ – insert street here. This is something nobody benefits from because any energy that could be spent on making a name for oneself elsewhere is interrupted by the need to reestablish/establish dominance in a place where the vast majority of the people don’t care about how quality Milwaukee’s Hip-Hop scene is to begin with.
People around Milwaukee are starting to figure out the out-of-town promo game and artists are dreaming big by poking at the global game instead of believing a tight local following will somehow bring an A&R to the city to sign them. There is no reason that Milwaukee couldn’t be the next Chicago, Detroit, or Minneapolis.
I have said this before to friends, but now I am willing to put it in writing. 2010 and the beginning of 2011 is going to be Milwaukee’s make or break period. If this period is strong, I really do feel that people are going to start being picked up over this time, or at the very least there are going to be doors open to Milwaukee artists that have seldom been open to its scene. Success for most is a long road so it’s possible that a strong 2010/2011 could just bring about some sort of media fascination and nothing more. I don’t know.
On the flipside of the coin, if this time period sees wall after wall after closed door, I think all hell is going to break loose. I think finger pointing is going to begin very swiftly and there are going to be zero subliminals because everything is going to be very, very directed. The house that so many have worked their ass off to build will burn down under the heat of 2011’s summer and only a few will remain relevant while the next group of artists start to make themselves known in some way. It is that atomic meltdown that we should all work our asses off to avoid.
I encourage everybody to keep their nose to the grind stone because something special is going on. You aren’t superstars yet by any means, but you are doing something that is building a lot of steam. Do what you can to make it through this period of time without killing (metaphorically and literally) each other and if we get half way deep into 2011 and nothing is happening at all for anybody, anywhere within the scene…then it’s time to let the motherfucker burn because we weren’t the answer the music gods were looking for.
This is all my humble opinion of course and I want very badly for the success route to happen for everybody. It really is a case of “time will tell”.
Respect to all the Milwaukee and Milwaukee related artists doing their thing.
-The Digital One