Milwaukee Hip-Hop Round-Up: WebsterX, Mic Kellogg, Simen Sez, AWillThaGreat, IshDARR

Also: AR Wesley, Rah, Renz Young, Ryan Oddity, Ralphael

Feb. 21, 2017
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AWillThaGreat
Milwaukee's rap scene has been in overdrive for the last couple of years, but we do our best to keep up with it. Once again we've rounded up our favorite recent singles, mixtapes, videos and odds and ends for our periodic Milwaukee Hip-Hop Round-Up.

WebsterX – “Intuition”


The most anticipated Milwaukee rap album of 2017 now has a name and a release date. WebsterX will release his debut album (“debut” may be a little bit of a revisionist term, but we’ll roll with it) Daymares on March 24 on Chicago's Closed Sessions label (home to acts like Jamila Woods, Kipp Stone and Kweku Collins). And like all album announcements, this one was accompanied by a new single: “Intuition,” another relentless thumper that gives WebsterX’s sputtery flow plenty to play off of. Its bass is absolutely massive.
   


Mic Kellogg – “Hideout”


Speaking of WebsterX, you don’t have to look to far to see just how big of an influence he’s already having on the Milwaukee rap scene. Mic Kellogg happily tries on a few of Web’s craggier vocal affectations on his latest single “Hideout,” which is already in regular rotation on Radio Milwaukee 88.9. That’s not a coincidence—the two have collaborated quite a few times—though the two use those expressive tics to very different ends. Where WebsterX goes for more of an arty, avant garde kind of feel, Kellogg goes for something a decidedly more easygoing, Mac Miller-ish, modern happy rap kind of vibe.



Simen Sez – Technicolor EP


Can’t get enough of that “Intuition” beat? I can’t either. It comes from an up-and-coming Milwaukee producer named Simen Sez, who wisely timed the release of his new EP just ahead of that WebsterX single. With its grizzled bassline, though, that single isn’t necessarily a great representation of Simon Sez’s production aesthetic. The music on his Technicolor EP is bright and joyful, almost Chance The Rapper-esque. And in Donnie Trumpet fashion, the EP is packed with a bounty of soulful guest singers and rappers including, yup, you guessed it, WebsterX. The whole thing is loaded to the brim with ideas and hooks; it’s just an EP but it feeds like a full meal.



AR Wesley – “Flavor”


Two of the great earworms of the ’90s, The Pharcyde’s “Passing Me By” and Craig Mack’s “Flava in Ya Ear,” get flipped on AR Wesley’s “Flavor,” a Mike Regal-produced standout from the ’90s-obsessed Milwaukee rapper’s 2016 album The Self Portrait. Released on Valentine’s Day, the video for the track finds Wesley on the prowl at Walker’s Point’s Var Gallery.



Ralphael – “Goldie Flow”


I have a soft spot for What's Really Good Ent., a Milwaukee label with a reputation for low-budget club rap. Right now the artist the label seems to be giving the biggest push is a guy named Ralphael, whose previous tracks have looked to southern rap (and particularly Houston) for inspiration. I suppose there’s a little bit of Houston in the syrup-smooth beat of his latest single “Goldie Flow,” too, but this track feels less beholden to that region than the ones that came before. It’s just cruising music, with shades of ’90s West Coast rap at its breeziest. It’s a major grower, too. It didn’t make a huge impression on me at first, but it’s been stuck in my head for days.

   
 

AWillThaGreat – Do It Yourself EP


You could probably lump almost every rapper who has ever existed into two camps: The boisterous, braggadocios ones, and the nakedly honest ones. That’s not to say there’s no overlap between cocksure rappers and truth-telling ones, but typically artists play up one trait over the other. Local everyman AWillThaGreat falls squarely in the earnest, honest camp. His debut EP Do It Yourself is a collection of grounded, likable rap that J. Cole fans will feel right at home with.



IshDARR & King Canis – “Said It All”


IshDARR has one of the most distinct flows in the city, so he sounds great on pretty much every track he’s on. But he’s done some of his finest work with a produced named Canis Major, whose low-end heavy tracks have a way of really making Ish’s springy voice pop. The two team up once again, along with fellow producer Taylor King, on Ish’s latest stay track, “Said It All.” Stick around for the beat flip.
   


Ryan Oddity – "Invisible Love" 


A jazzy guitar loop drives “Invisible Love,” the dreamy latest single form Ryan Oddity, a rapper/singer whose music seems to grow more chilled out by the month. Sometimes less is more: At just two minutes long, the track begs to be played twice.



Rah – “Charge It To The Game”


One of the weirdest things about getting older is wondering whether artists younger than you have the same touchstones as you. For instance, is Rah a Silkk The Shocker fan? Does he even know who Silkk The Shocker is? Either way, the rapper’s self-produced latest single shares a title (phonetically, at least) with Silkk’s best album. It’s probably a coincidence, though, since Silkk never released anything nearly so vibed out.



Renz Young – “Balance”


We’ll end with a fixture of these round-ups: Renz Young. I write about his songs a lot, because he cranks out a lot of them and they’re consistently gripping. He’s also got one of those voices that makes you turn your head. His latest, “Balance,” is tenser than most, a dizzying barrage of sharp drums and clipped samples.

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