Is Milwaukee afraid of hip-hop? Actually, not so much lately
Reasons to be hopeful for Milwaukee hip-hop fans
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Tarik Moody over at Radio Milwaukee posted a blog yesterday with a great grabber headline: “Is Milwaukee afraid of hip-hop?” It’s not a question that’s unique to 2010, since the Milwaukee club scene has never been overflowing with hip-hop shows, at least compared with punk and metal. (Evan Rytlewski of the Shepherd-Express does a good job of running down the usual reasons for this.) But is it possible that life for local hip-hop fans in town might actually be getting better?
The spark for Moody’s blog is the upcoming Mos Def/MF Doom show at the Congress Theater in Chicago. Moody wishes (as do I) that the duo was coming to Milwaukee—but considering that Def and Doom are only visiting three cities together, it’s a blessing that they’re even coming as close as Chicago. But Moody’s overall point is well taken—by and large, it doesn’t seem like Milwaukee music venues are dying to cater to hip-hop fans on a regular basis.
Still, rather than curse the darkness, I’d like to light a match. The local rap scene is getting more attention now than it has had in years, and with good reason: Prophetic, House Of M, Tay Butler, Streetz & Young Deuces, Element Everest, JC Poppe, and Melissa Czarnik, among others, have made records worth talking (and writing) about in the last few years. And you can actually hear these artists on local radio stations like Radio Milwaukee and WMSE practically any day of the week. And as the excellent new local compilation Yo! MKE Raps and events like the epic producer battle Miltown Beatdown show, there are positive signs that artists from the East Side and Northwest Milwaukee scenes are coming together to form a more unified scene.
A local rapper you've maybe never heard of might not be as sexy as a superstar MC. But hip-hop was built on localism, and taking pride in what you have in your own backyard. As the Milwaukee scene grows in prominence and quality, so should its ability to attract national rap tours—though, it should be noted, it's not like there's a ton of rap tours out there to attract. Even big-city hip-hop scenes are driven by local talent first. Given how good local hip-hop is right now, perhaps it’s time for the Milwaukee music audience to appreciate what we have (and build on it) rather than rue what we don’t.