Milwaukee Hip-Hop Round-Up: Lorde Fredd33, IshDARR, Elo, Skintay, Juiceboxxx

Also: First Class Music, Alienst Music, Sydnee B, Uni-Fi Records

Aug. 22, 2017
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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 singles, mixtapes, videos and odds and ends from the last few weeks for our periodic Milwaukee Hip-Hop Round-Up

Lorde Fredd33 - "Playing Possum"

Your favorite flows are also Lorde Fredd33's favorite flows. The Milwaukee rapper's bravado latest track opens with a Busta Rhymes "woo-hah!" then sprints through homages to Pharcyde, Das Efx, Tupac, Desiigner and "Scenario"—not by way of Tip or Phife's verses, but by way of Charlie Brown's. Who raps like Charlie Brown in 2017? This Q The Sun-produced track is more than just a game of spot the reference, though—it's a weirdly jazzy, digressive two and a half minutes that shows off what a pliable thing hip-hop can be. Lorde Fredd33's been making some seriously original music lately, but for my money this is the most exciting thing he's done yet.

IshDARR - "Sanity"

IshDARR's consistency is a thing of wonder. The prolific, fast-rising Milwaukee rapper doesn't make just songs, he makes singles, every single one designed for maximum impact on stage. Produced by two of his go-to guys Canis Major and MAG, his latest track "Sanity" is no exception, a relatively ruminative song by his recent standards that still packs one hell of a bounce. The video doubles as a bit of a victory lap following IshDARR's headlining Summerfest gig last month, and includes some striking footage from that set.

Elo - 10,000 Hours

So many rappers mine the sounds and spirit of the early and mid-'90s that it always amazes me how few look to the adjacent eras. On his new mixtape 10,000 hours, the Chicago-born, Milwaukee-based rapper Elo sets his sights on the odder, edgier and slightly more artificial sounds of the late '90s and early-'00s, a less-heralded era of underground rap that nonetheless spawned some fantastic releases from artists like J Dilla (Elo's primary aesthetic muse) and Little Brother. No gimmicks here: just concise raps and clipped, heady loops. 

Vincent VanGreat, Dana Coppa and Mammyth -"Grimey"

Professional wrestling is one of those things, like Will Ferrell comedies, that rappers tend to be way into but that I just don't understand at all. But a muse is a muse, and for their single "Grimey" three of Uni-Fi Records' mainstays fire themselves up channeling the spirit of Macho Man Randy Savage ("oh yeah.") This one's for the Odd Future fans—and true to its title, it's the kind of song the term NSFW was invented for, with not one but three references to the kind of thing that makes you never want to eat at a restaurant again.

Skintay ft. P-rock and H The Great - "It's My Time"

This one's so catchy it almost feels like a cheat. Producer Nol Lee flips a classic soul track for a woozy, feel-good little song that worms its way into your head in a Big Tymers, "can't pay my rent, all my money spent" sort of way. 

Juiceboxxx - "Guts and Tension" and "Freaked Out American Loser"

It's hard to imagine any Milwaukee rapper who's ever invited stronger opinions than Juiceboxxx—the often-overpraised, often-mocked high-energy rabble-rouser who's either one of the most refreshing hip-hop acts in ages or a talentless schmuck who the world should have stopped humoring ages ago, depending on your point of view. I'm one of those spoilsports who's always been lukewarm on his act—any rap music that scans of shtick always puts me on alert—but I can't deny that in recent years he's tailored his one-man Beastie Boy routine into something genuine and distinct over the years, and that his latest album Freaked Out American Loser is an absolute blast. In the last couple of weeks he's shared two lyrics videos for two of its stand-out songs, the Check Your Head-esque "Guts and Tension" and the not-remotely-a-rap-song title track. It's probably an insult to compare that last song to Matt and Kim, but it really sounds like Matt and Kim. 

First Class Music - "Hell On Earth"

First Class Music rappers Scottie and Skyy Phresh tend to stick to agreeable hip-hop that stays current with modern trends—there's a little Wiz Khalifa in their sound, a little EDM, and a lot of Atlanta. But even the most easygoing rappers usually have a little menace in them. Their tense new music video—or "short film" as they call it, because it's one of those videos—casts the two as ghoulish agents of the night. It's an unusual look for them, but I'm all in on that beat.

Sydnee B - Forever Hold Your Peace EP

Milwaukee's more difficult, art-minded rappers tend to get more attention, but rapper Sydnee B is starting to rack up some serious streams for his pop-minded Top 40-friendly, Fast & Furious-soundtrack-esque take on hip-hop. From the production to the guest hooks, everything about his new EP Forever Hold Your Peace sounds expensive—the whole thing feels like a Saturday night at a club I couldn't afford to go to even if they'd let me in.

Alienst Music - miscellaneous

And finally, let's close out this latest round-up with by spotlighting a producer. They don't get too much coverage in this column—such is the life of a producer; they're used to it—but I wanted to share a few tracks from one Milwaukee producer doing the kind of beats I don't hear much anymore. I can't pretend to have any idea who the rappers he's working with are, but Alienst Music makes big, massive tracks with a late-'90s/early '00s Rawkus Records feel. Tell me Phaorohe Monch wouldn't have sounded incredible over a few of these back in the day.


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