That’s an interesting question. I had to learn this lesson the hard way. Coming from a Punk and Ska background, my music was always introverted. I always wanted to play MY STYLE, 100% of the time. In my sophomore year of college I was booked by a UWM black fraternity for one of their dances in the UWM ballroom. At this time (2000-01) all I played was Jurassic 5, Mos Def, and Company Flow. I was into MY thing. The crowd wanted Ludacris and 50 Cent all night. This was before the days of Serato, so I literally had like 5 pop/mainstream rap records in my crate at that gig. I played Snoop, Outkast, and Slick Rick over again and again (they did NOT pay me for that gig). The good thing I learned was that as a DEEJAY your number one job is to entertain the crowd. So I began to play at shows where the crowd wanted to hear, what I wanted to play. Kid Millions booked me for my first MKE hip hop gig at the Riverwest Commons in 2001. I opened for Def Harmonic, Kid Millions, and Nowheremine ( Eric Meir’s 1st group ) That show opened me up to a TON of other great MKE hip hop gigs. As I grew, I continued to play Hip Hop shows and parties. Now that I am an older and wiser DJ, I’ve learned to play many different styles. My gigs at the Milwaukee Art Museum can be all pop and 80s hits one month, and then Dub Step and Hipster Rock the next. And working at 88NINE has opened my ears to SOOOOOO much new music, that I really do not consider MYSELF to be a Hip Hop DJ anymore. I’m a DJ, who loves to play, and make Hip Hop.
|As the resident table rocker for the Rusty P’s, do you have any news you can share with us about the P’s plans for 2010? I know some side projects have been/are being worked on but is 2010 going to see any new Rusty P’s music?|
I’m not sure…
|I once saw you rock a set with a Lucha Libre mask on. Do you ever bust the mask out to rock a set incognito anymore?|
I have thought about creating a DJ alias who spins electro, glitch, and dub step. We’ll see if he ever comes back…
You helped to create the Miltown Beatdown, an event that many in Milwaukee (including myself) consider as the most important Hip-Hop event to happen each year. It’s brought together the different sides and sounds of the city. What motivated you to begin this and to stay with it for 5 years?
I had planned on NOT doing the battle this year. It’s a lot of stress to organize and coordinate 3 months of competition. But I received such an outpouring of support from the MKE scene, and from my sponsors, that I had to continue. When the event 1st began, it was a selfish attempt to get more people to come to my Wednesday night weekly at the Jackalope Lounj. Winter is usually pretty dead here in MKE, so Dana Coppa and I were brainstorming on a beat battle for Milwaukee, and I took the idea and made it happen. The first year was not a HUGE success, but it brought a lot of heads into my Wednesday night gig. I then collaborated with Geraud Blanks and Sose for a MKE vs. CHI battle at Stonefly. In year 3, I expanded the event to have 32 producers. This was my first year working with Red Bull. They surprised me, and booked Maseo of De La Soul, to judge the final night’s battle, which was held at STONEFLY (I had to change venue, since I knew Maseo would bring a huge crowd. WE SOLD THAT ONE OUT). Year 4 was my attempt to expand the battle more and challenge the MKE producers. I had 3 types of battles. We wrapped that series up at Turner Hall Ballroom with ?uestlove, Masta Ace, Diamond D, and DA Wallach of Chester French.
This 5th year is more about quality, and less about quantity. In years past I let ANY producer who signed up (in time) to be in. This year we went through submissions, to gather up 15 producers. I knew it would be thought of as unfair if I was the only one choosing the competitors, so I asked my partner Kid Cut Up to help me. We only picked 15 of the 16, so we could offer the people a chance to decide who the 16th will be.
I’m glad you feel that this event is so important. I not only wanted to find a way to put the stars of MKE hip hop, the producers, on the stage, but I wanted to show Milwaukee that Hip Hop is Hip Hop. The one thing that often separates us here is the content of the lyrics. The beats are universal. That’s why the beats are the focus of this event.
“one nation under a groove…” G. Clinton
|The Beatdown has been the subject of some sideways talk this year due to a change in format, venue approach, length, and the addition of performers in between battles. What brought about the changes and how do you respond to the whispers?|
#1. If they are talking about you, good or bad, at least you’ve got their attention.
#2. I knew the event had to grow up. It’s 5 years old now. It’s eating solid food, it’s potty trained, and it even wants to play baseball now (LOL). But seriously, these producers deserve the large stage. Last spring’s Turner Hall battle opened my eyes to this. It looked cool, sounded great and was the largest stage most of those producers ever set foot on.
As far as the length of the competition, I have a wife & kids, an EARLY MORNING radio show, and my own music I want to spend time on. There was just NO way I could continue the weekly battles. I also wanted to use the opportunity to build with my MKE brothers. Having rappers as the half time show, was a great way for me to thank the MKE rap scene that has supported me through Jackalope, RPs, Radio Milwaukee and all the changes in my career. Plus, they are judges in the battle too.
|You’ve been holding down the mornings over at 88Nine Radio Milwaukee now for like a year now after years of spinning gigs at several night spots around Milwaukee and helping to set up the MadKids show…which stepped into the Tuesday night time slot the legendary Late Night Hype Show rocked for a decade on 91.7FM WMSE…how’s life now that you are a morning person?|
I’ve always been a good morning person. In my years as a night DJ, I worked mornings in coffee shops with Alterra and Stone Creek. I also love the family time I get now. Getting off of work at 1:30pm has its perks. I’m grateful for the opportunity that I’ve got here with Radio Milwaukee. I know 88NINE is not every one’s thing, but it’s NOT supposed to be. I love Wilco, The Flaming Lips, Jimi Hendrix, Santana, AND Common and The Roots. It’s cool that I can play a mix of music I like, and be able to help my friends in the scene like UNI.FI, UMG, and YOURSELF, get exposure and airplay. If you only listen to Hip Hop, Madkids might be more your thing, but if you like a little bit of everything; 88NINE might have something for you. I’m also VERY proud of the MADKIDS show and what Kid Cut Up has accomplished since I had to leave. That was hard for me to do. Cut Up is my best friend, and leaving our show was tough. I’m the MAD in Madkids. It’s still weird. But I support Kid, DJ Bizzon, and WMSE for life!!!
|Artists and DJs have had a love/hate relationship since the dynamic began. The internet, podcasts, internet radio, etc., has seemingly reinvigorated that love/hate. How do you feel about the use of these tools and is it helping or hurting music as a whole?|
I love the web, I love blogs, I love easy access to new music. Sure there are loud mouths and critics out there (Just check out ANY thread on AV Club Milwaukee’s website and see how much HATE I endure working over at 88NINE). But opinions are like assholes, everyone has one. Now, everyone has a way to have their voice heard. While some bad comes of that, a lot of good comes too. Look at the MADBLOGGERS. I assumed those guys were from MKE with all the love they show us here. [Editor’s note – They are based out of CT] That’s proof that the world is smaller now. And as a DJ, I love that I can get a track off a blog, put it in Serato, and spin it that night. It’s cool!
|What tricks do you have up your sleeve for the Beatdown finals? Any special guest judges lined up?|
I’m working on a few big names, but I do not want to jinx it. The date is confirmed for MAY 28th. Please be sure to check MILTOWNBEATDOWN.com for more info.
|Lastly, there was an unfortunate thing that happened at the MTBD this past Friday and then there was an extremely horrible incident outside of Quarters on Center St., the street that is one of the main veins for Hip-Hop in Milwaukee. I want to give you the opportunity to speak publicly about this cluster of recent violence. So, say what you have to say.|
I set up this event to bring diverse crowds and those who usually DO NOT work together. That is the whole idea of the event. I understand that humans are flawed beings; war, hate and pain are in our DNA. While I do not propose that I have the ability to shape that, I do know that MY events are not a ground for violence or intolerance. I have NO interest in getting in the middle of personal beef or fights, but I WILL NOT LET ANYTHING RUIN AN EVENT THAT HAS BEEN 5 YEARS IN THE MAKING. The MTBD is about BUILDING, not DESTROYING.