Hip Hop Week MKE 2019 is here!
Last years commencement of hosting an annual event to celebrate Hip-hop and its culture became the talk of the town with high stakes, aiming for a high communal reward. Its controversial turnout, with multiple perspectives, left many curious to see what would come of it this year, and others eager to be involved. As the Hip Hop narrative has always been on our agenda, CopyWrite has joined in the action.
This year we are the official media sponsor of Music On The BLT (Beerline Trail), a Hip Hop Week MKE music showcase with the goal of bridging the gap between the Riverwest & Harambee neighborhood on Milwaukee’s Eastside. From our perspective, the showcase is symbolic of more than just music in the city. It represents the conversation and change that can come from activating space. In the hopes that you may read something that makes you want to join us for the event, CopyWrite sat down with two of the acts from the amazing lineup, DJ Nu Stylez and Jazzaveli, to give you a taste of exactly why you should come to #SupportTheLocal
CW: “What made you decide to be apart of this showcase.”
Jazzaveli (J): “I haven't been active in six years [doing music]. . . I feel like this kind of fell into place with the mission I was already on. As far as the lineup, the location and even the person that reached out to me to do it. I think it's going to be a great show.”
When we asked Jazzaveli about the showcase being on the official schedule for Hip Hop Week events she assured us that it will be not only beneficial for her as an artist but also it will showcase a part of the community that does not house a large venue or event space, but has a lot of potential and has “changed”.
J: “I used to live over there as a kid, back when it was Kohl’s grocery store. The residents over there are different [now]. I think that people may be afraid to take that approach, as far as introducing Hip Hop to that community. But I think it's just conversation and communication. I don’t think they are being resistant towards it. I think it's just not having those relationships.”
Let’s be honest. That’s why we need you to show up. For these local events, the word is getting out, circulating in some circles, and passing over others. Riverwest is showing up and Harambee is not. Hmm. . . Why do you think that is? We are not just talking neighborhoods. My friends, we are talking about a cultural shift.
CW: “What do you think the importance is of having Hip Hop Week in Milwaukee?”
DJ Nu Stylez (DJNS): “Just in general, keeping the cycle going. Even though I have had my hand in all the elements. My forefront is obviously DJing. For the younger DJ’s now they just need to know the full elements of Hip Hop week and DJing. Keeping Hip Hop alive is really what this week is about.”
J: “People have to understand its deeper than music. In that area, there is a lot of gentrification. So people feel a way! When you merge two communities, and there is no communication, one group of people feel like everything they have worked for is being taken and the other group of people are in a happy space because they feel like its a new beginning for them.”
She believes unless we communicate collectively, we will always have a distance between the two. So Music On The BLT is a start.
So how does Jazzaveli as an artist fit into the mix? Well, she started her run in the Milwaukee music scene when she was in her early twenties. Young, gifted, with a flow that could, “Out rap most guys” (word to DJ Nu Stylez), she had her hand in a big part of the scene. The avid Hip Hop fan of great emcee’s like Tupac, the well respected Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (who she has actually opened up for), and Shawnna (who she met after rapping her way backstage as a teen) knows the importance of sharing your truth. Now at the age of thirty-one, after breast cancer, a divorce, and some other major life turning events, she has something real to say. She claims that her showcase will be filled with a genre she calls Soul Rap. Which consist of life experiences that come from the soul, allowing the audience to hear her testimony.
DJ Nu Stylez also has an important role in the Music On The BLT showcase as its official DJ. In our conversation, we discussed how the role of the DJ in today's digital era is underrated. The history of the Disk Jockey and the service they provide is critical to the longevity of the culture.
DJNS: “Nowadays it's just so easy to put the music on your phone. Cats now, they don’t have DJ’s. They are just like, ‘Uhh can you play it off of here?’. Like what part of the game is that?”
He asserts that even though some people may not understand how crucial the DJ is to a performance, the proof is in the product.
DJNS: “There is a structure on playing music and a computer can’t teach you that. . .You have to put the time in. You have to put the work in.”
And the work starts with the relationships. The same ones we want to manifest with Hip Hop week. Let us put you on game:
DJNS: “People don’t understand going to say ‘What Up?’ to the DJ without giving them your music. Without even just introducing yourself. When you're talking to a [woman] you don’t just go ‘yea ya know, hi-ah’.” *He said in a frantic mocking voice*.
Word from the DJ, calm down and build the connection. Everybody thinks they have the most poppin track in the city. It's the authenticity that will get you played.
J: “The easiest way to break a record is to take to the DJ. F*ck a social media.”
CW: “Now that we have the opportunity to really bring Hip Hop to the forefront in our city and make sure EVERYBODY sees it, what do you think that narrative shift can cause to happen in our community as a whole?”
DJNS: “I’m hoping more spotlight. I’m hoping that the door will open a little bit wider . . . I don’t understand why we are not further given social media, technology, and numbers. Some MF’s from here have real numbers (*Numbers: Plays). So why is that not connecting past the midwest? I don’t know. But I’m hoping things like Hip Hop Week MKE [can change that].”
He believes that though many have left the city and made a name for themselves, it's going to take someone to blow up from the dirt (right here at home) to put Milwaukee on the Hip Hop map and everything that comes with it.
J: “I think now we have to start creating our own environment so that we don’t have to leave. . . Milwaukee is a gold mine for artist. We have programs at the City and all types of stuff where an artist could actually make a living off of this. There are paths you can create to have that platform to stay home, it's just are you willing to do it. We do have a dark cloud over our city but it’s still what you make of it too.”
Their advice? Start putting a claim to it. They note that the most successful people in Hip Hop talk about where they are from in their music explicitly. They mention the names of streets, businesses, and landmarks. They shout out their local DJ’s and producers. They speak on hardships that happen there. It creates a collective story about that place. It moves the people. It becomes that spark.
CW: “We are hoping for a diverse crowd. What do you want people who may not come from a similar background to take from your music?”
J: “One thing I live by is that music is universal. No matter what genre it is, no matter what age, or color, people identify with music if it is heartfelt. . . All I can do is tell my story. One thing I know for sure is that I'm not the only person who has had breast cancer. I'm not the only person who has been depressed, had anxiety or any other issues. I think that's relatable. So when they listen to my music I want them to listen in spirit, and not judge me. Try to meet my frequency for a second without expectations.”
CW: “What would you say to somebody who is not likely to come out to this Hip Hop Week MKE event, and maybe if they read this it could change their mind?”
J: “Step outside the box. I feel like we are so content with a certain feeling. For a while, I wouldn't listen to anything past made past ‘05. . . but then I started to listen to some of the new artists, different types of music like I started studying music from the ’80s. I studied Pop. I studied Blues and we all have a story! So I would just encourage people to come out with an open mind and learn something new. Get a new experience.”
CW: “So we can talk about all these things but let’s be direct. What is your contribution to putting Milwaukee on the map?”
J: “For me its community work. I have been working in the community for years. I think music is what gravitates people. Like I said earlier, it's universal so that’s how I reach them. But I have just really been challenging artist on every level to just get involved. I know it may sound cliche because I’m not talking about no clean up’s, even though that's cool if you do that. But I'm talking about real life. . . I’m working at city hall every day and I’m an artist. If I work in an alder-person’s office there is no reason why the streets, the artist or whoever should not be able to come to me and say, ‘How can we buy back the blocks? How can we do this?’. I’m the gateway for it. Here is your opportunity. If you want something to change, you gotta change it. I personally just got tired of asking. So it's like let me put myself in a position where I can try to change that.”
CW: “And you sir?”
DJNS: “You always have to represent no matter where you go. . . You will always see me with an MLB (He moves his Milwaukee Brewers Cap up and down with pride) no matter where I’m at. But I think too, a little more important is keeping the newer generation in tune to the art. As long as they are above average we will always be looked at. . .”
If you have not caught on by now, we really need YOU, in order to change the narrative. So this Friday, August 23rd, 2019, join us at 3334 N. Holton st. on the BLT performance stage for Music On The BLT. Jazzaveli and DJ Nu Stylez are not the only artists who will be blessing the stage. Local favorite Shle Berry will be on the mic and so will the popular Pop/ Hip Hop talent Corey Pieper. Representation is at stake, the disenfranchised of perpetual gentrification is of course at risk and the voice of Hip Hop may have the remedy. We may be biased (Andddddddd????) but you know what they say:
“Hip Hop saved my life.”
/Lexi (Editor-in-Chief of CW)