ELMS: Milwaukee’s hip-hop community breaks negative stereotypes

Hip-hop has a lot of negative stereotypes. The music and lifestyle are tagged as violent, vulgar, sexist and illicit, and most mainstream artists do nothing but fuel this image with their shallow lyrics and sensationalized music videos.

But I’m proud to say the artists of the Milwaukee hip-hop scene are anything but gun-toting, womanizing, crime-committing individuals. I’m not an expert on Milwaukee’s hip-hop scene by any means, but I listen to a fair amount of its music and stay up to date on anything Milwaukee music-related, and I can tell you our hip-hop circle is all about one thing: community.

And not just their community, but the Milwaukee community as a whole. Our local hip-hop artists are using their talents in music and art to unite people with common interests behind efforts that benefit the city as a whole.

A perfect example of this is the “Hip-Hop Hates …” concert series, hosted and developed by Milwaukee-born rapper and OnMilwaukee.com music contributor JC Poppe. The series is dedicated to raising money and awareness for different causes, with the first two shows dubbed Hip-Hop Hates Multiple Sclerosis and Hip-Hop Hates Breast Cancer.

The latest installment, Hip-Hop Hates HIV/AIDS, is a benefit for the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin. The show is coming up on Friday, Sept. 23 at the Cactus Club in Bay View. Doors open at 9 p.m. and the music starts at 10 p.m. DJ Bizzon of The Mad Kids show on WMSE will serve as house DJ, and local artists Prophetic, Streetz-n-Young Deuces, Lah-Kid and Pacino will all be performing.

According to a write up by Poppe circulating area hip-hop blogs, Poppe hopes to raise $1,000 through the event and asks attendees to donate a $5 minimum at the door. All donations go straight to the ARCW.

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing both Poppe and Bizzon in the past, and I can tell you their cause is earnest. Poppe is one of the most vocal members of Milwaukee hip-hop, and possibly one of its harshest critics. Bizzon values true hip-hop, not the commercial alternatives you see on MTV. Both respect the Milwaukee community and break the negative stereotypes I mentioned above.

Events like “Hip-Hop Hates …” not only bring the hip-hop community together, but they also bring the city together for a common cause. People who before would have never considered spending their Friday night at a hip-hop show are showing up and enjoying themselves right alongside the regulars to the scene, and it’s all in the name of a good cause.

What’s more, this series isn’t the only thing Milwaukee hip-hop artists are involved in that promotes a healthy and safe community. The seventh annual Put the Guns Down Festival took place this past Sunday in Washington Park, kicking off with a neighborhood march and wrapping up with performances by local rap artists.

TRUE Skool, Inc. is a Milwaukee non-profit that works to empower youth and young adults through two main programs, Urban Arts and Adopt a Community. According to their website, they believe “popular culture, specifically hip-hop culture, has the power to provide unexplored opportunities for youth,” and they incorporate that into their organization’s work towards building a better future for these kids.

Concerts and programs like these help the community as well as demonstrate the sense of pride these individuals truly have in our city. Milwaukee’s hip-hop artists deserve recognition beyond that of negative stereotypes and assumptions. They deserve our support and appreciation.