The Milwaukee Hip Hop scene is thriving right now more than it ever has. Over the last couple of years, it feels like Hip Hop artists from Milwaukee blowing up online at a more fast and more frequent rate than we have ever seen. The obvious biggest example of this is Lakeyah. Lakeyah is seeing a level of success right now that not many artists from Milwaukee have ever seen. Another artist that has been blowing up is DC the Don. He consistently gets hundreds of thousands millions of streams on all of his new songs, and it seems like he gets more popular by the day. Unfortunately, though, neither of these two artists are based in the Milwaukee area anymore, and neither of them seem to have a ton of pride in the city at the moment. Lakeyah does show Milwaukee love on occasion, but it does seem like her goal was to get out of here rather than make it better to live here. Listed below is a bunch of Milwaukee artists that are still based here(for the most part) and who seem to have a lot of pride in trying to build up the Milwaukee Hip Hop scene as a whole. They want to see their peers thrive as much as they want to thrive themselves, and are trying to make the Milwaukee Hip Hop scene a force to be reckoned with throughout the country. One caveat I have is this list doesn’t include any of Milwaukee’s many Drill Rappers. I will say the community of Drill Artists in Milwaukee do frequently collaborate with each other as well; I wanted to make sure I acknowledged that fact as it would be dishonest not to. I wanted to highlight some people making stuff other than Drill music, though, to show that the range of music here is as wide as it is anywhere. I will be writing a separate piece about new Milwaukee Drill music in the near future. Please let me know in the comments of other Milwaukee musicians you know of that I should listen to.
WAVE CHAPELLE – HOME TEAM
As I have said multiple times this year so far, there is no one working harder in 2021 than Wave Chapelle. He has released one song a week throughout all of 2021, bundling up the four songs from each month at the end of it into an EP named after a color. It takes an incredible amount of focus. discipline, and talent to release one song a week like this and make sure each song fits in with the rest of the songs from the month it is in, Wave Chapelle just finished up his releases from August, calling the EP for the month The Cream Pack(for those who are not in the loop, Milwaukee is often called “Cream City” due to the color of a lot of the older buildings in downtown Milwaukee). Wave Chapelle’s last song from August, ‘Home Team,’ is a Trap banger that fits very well into the Hip Hop landscape of 2021. It is not the most innovative or sophisticated track of all time, but it is super clean in the way it is produced and performed and it just sounds great. I love this track’s melody; it is so smooth and atmospheric and it reminds me a lot of what rappers like J. Cole and Joey Bada$$ enjoy rapping to. On ‘Home Team,’ Wave Chapelle acknowledges the fact that throughout everything he has been through, he still keeps his old friends and family in his corner. No matter where he goes, he knows he will always have people back in Milwaukee who love and support him.
– TAKE IT THERE FEAT. ISHDARR
Before I move on from Wave Chapelle, I wanted to talk about another song he released in August, ‘Take It There’ featuring Ishdarr. Similar to Wave Chapelle, Ishdarr is a Milwaukee rapper who popped off in the mid-2010s and was one of the first artists in a long time to gain a lot of traction nationally from the city. He has always taken a lot of time in between new solo releases as he works meticulously to make sure his songs are perfect; every time he drops something new, though, he regains that spark and popularity he had before and reminds people why he became big in the first place. ‘Take It There’ is a triumphant Trap track that highlights the talents of both rappers. Wave Chapelle and Ishdarr both sound so good when they take a harsher, higher energy approach to their rapping, and this instrumental requires that. The instrumental has a grand element to it that reminds me a lot of Rick Ross, and both Wave Chapelle and Ishdarr rise up and match the spirit of it in a huge way. If you are into the kind of Trap music that makes you work out and party at the same time because it is just so full of life, ‘Take It There’ is a song you need to check out.
ELI $TONES – SEEN MYSELF
Eli $tones is another Milwaukee-based artist who has been on an absolute tear this year. He has dropped 8 singles this year and has been featured on a few awesome songs from other artists who are in the area; this includes one of my favorite Milwaukee songs from the year, ‘Catch Up’ by Mayyh3mm and Eli. One thing I enjoy about Eli $tones is how diverse his sound is and how he is willing to embrace so many styles of Hip Hop music. If you listen to all of Eli’s music, you will find that he embraces so many different kinds of instrumentals, vocal tones, and deliveries. Although Eli $tones does put his individual stamp on all of his songs, he is still willing to divulge in and try out a large variety of sounds. His latest song, ‘Seen Myself,’ has more of an “old school” R&B Trap feeling to it. This song reminds me a lot of some of the music that came out in the early 2010s. It has a dark and foreboding melody which would fit in so well with the music artists like Future and French Montana came up making. I l love how melancholy yet still high energy the instrumental is, as it fits Eli $tones’ vocal style well. Eli’s delivery on this song reminds me of Post Malone and The Weeknd. If you are a fan of the R&B Trap sound that was big in the early 2010s, I know you will like this song.
PUERTO WICCAN – MONEY MAKER feat. ALEXANDER JAMES
Puerto Wiccan is an artist that absolutely stands out among the pack. There is no one in the Milwaukee area who is doing things like her right now. From her sound to her image to her style, everything Puerto Wiccan does is distinctive and special. There is nothing low-key about Puerto Wiccan. Her style, persona, and pieces of art she makes are abrasive and in your face. In other words, she does not seem like the kind of person you would want to mess with. Puerto Wiccan seems to embrace very dark and high-energy Trap music. The instrumentals she uses have melodies that are sort of creepy and very tough, yet the beats that these melodies are sound like they are perfect for the club. These beats make me want to party and dance the night away, but they also make me want to commit shady crimes. Puerto Wiccan’s latest single, ‘Money Maker’ featuring Alexander James, is a great example of this. This track has an upbeat beat and foreboding melody, and Puerto Wiccan brings a ton of energy with her rapping style. Her flow is so strong and vibrant, and it takes ‘Money Maker’ to an even higher and harsher level. Alexander James comes in with a level of vigor and enthusiasm that matches Puerto Wiccan very well; he makes sure the song does get any less harsh or crazy when he comes on. ‘Money Maker’ by Puerto Wiccan is a banger, and she is someone who I will be following closely from this point on because she is so cool and different.
LADY SABO AND HEYZEUS – DEMONS
Lady Sabo and HeyZeus are two artists who are not afraid to do their own thing and carve their own lanes. HeyZeus in particular has stated there is not a certain kind of Hip Hop music he is necessarily interested in making; he just wants to make whatever he feels, regardless of whether it is trendy at the time or not. He has stated that making music is just a way to release his emotions and express how he feels about life in the best way he knows how. I respect this approach a lot, and whether or not he is interested in making it big, I feel like that is the perfect mentality to have in order to have a music career with longevity. Whether we realize it or not, people are attracted to other people that are genuine and authentic. If you listen to Lady Sabo’s music, it is obvious that she also does not want to put herself in a box. She experiments with all different kinds of instrumentals and does not limit her range at all. Lady Sabo has something for everyone in her discography. On Lady Sabo and HeyZeus’ latest collaboration, ‘Demons,’ they take a low-key approach. This song is slow and methodical, but also foreboding. The melody almost reminds me of something that would play after a very bad and dark scene in a horror movie. As she raps about the things in her life she does to forget all of the pain and misfortune she has gone through, Lady Sabo uses an extremely catchy sing-songy flow that draws the listener in. her rapping style on this song reminds me a lot of people like Noname or Little Simz. Considering those artists do not make this kind of dark Trap music, it is cool to hear this approach on a song like this. HeyZeus also has an addictive flow on this track which makes the listener melt into the track. His flow and rapping style on this song kind of feel like a cross between underground Trap artists like Bones and hardcore Trap artists like Gorilla Zoe. Even though he seems so calm and melancholy on this track, there is an anxious energy behind his flow that makes it feel like he could pop off at any moment. ‘Demons’ is a dark and mean-sounding track that is so catchy and addictive, and it makes me very excited to see what these artists do in the future.
IAMMARCANDREW – WHAT ELSE?
IAmMarcAndrew is an artist I recently discovered whose music intrigues me a lot. He is yet another artist on this list who has a sound and style that is completely different from anything anyone else in the Milwaukee area is making. One thing that I immediately noticed about IAmMarcAndrew’s music is how clean the production is. He uses these super silky R&B Trap instrumentals that go so well with the music in this genre that is popular today. In particular, his last couple of releases have had instrumentals that remind me so much of what artists like Roddy Ricch and Swae Lee like to rap on. These instrumentals are so smooth and melodic, and they will make anyone start to bop their head and dance when they hear these tracks. His latest track, ‘What Else?’ has the kind of melody that makes you want to go on a blunt cruise with some friends late at night. It creates such an easy-going atmosphere that is bound to put anyone in a calm mood. On ‘What Else?’ Marc has a super nice flow that goes with the instrumental perfectly and helps the listener melt into the song even more. Marc definitely understands the feeling he is trying to create with this song, and he does it perfectly. I can not wait to see what IAmMarcAndrew does next because he is a very interesting and talented upcoming artist.
PMRDIMI – ON GOD
PMRDimi is another artist I have been following for a while but have not gotten the chance to write about yet. He has had a very busy 2021. PMRDimi released an 8 song project near the beginning of the year, and he has dropped multiple singles in 2021 since that project came out. He has also been featured on a few songs by artists from around the area, including one by the aforementioned Marc Andrew. PMRDimi is an artist who has dove into the underground Emo Trap sound that was made popular by artists like Lil Peep. His sound is very alternative and has a Punk feeling to it; he definitely would have fit into Lil Peep and Lil Tracy’s GothBoiClique. His single from June of 2021, ‘On God,’ is a perfect example of this. This track is a Trap banger with a super catchy melody and Alternative Rock feeling to the riff. PMRDimi’s vocals on this track remind me a lot of Juice Wrld’s or Lil Raven’s. PMRDimi has a sound and style that could definitely blow up at any point in today’s day and age. I think PMRDimi is an artist that will break through and go viral at some point very soon.