Milwaukee has not simply been a seldom heard from contributor to the hip-hop, it has somehow become almost a self-contained, sound-proofed stadium where incredible music is made inside and the hometown goes crazy, but step outside those doors and the sound is gone. To the best of my knowledge, this barrier has really only been broken a couple of times, once in 2003 when Coo Coo Cal dropped the infectious, speaker-knocker “My Projects” which went off on the radio all over the country. The scene in the city receded from the charts until Ray Nitti came out swinging in 2009 with “Bow” making its way through clubs all over the country, I can even remember it going off at my middle-school dances.
Since then there have been a few artists from the city who have gotten edge national attention, but the city still lacks an artist that is truly popping and putting on for the city. Bizness Boi, aka Andre Robertson, is a Grammy-nominated producer who has been doing more than it seems for one man to possibly do to change this, as he’s been on a mission to promote the artists that he vibes with out of the city. Growing up there, I was honestly almost clueless about any sort of local scene that we had going on. It is finally time that the doors are opened up, and the Marshall Twins aka MT aka Dexxx and Donno are here to take what is theirs. In the past four to five years there has been a surge in the number of artists who were consistently getting over 10k, 50k, 100k, 500k, 1 million video views. Usually, when any artist ANYWHERE was consistently getting over one million views on videos and easily putting up more on the streams they would be put up all over social media. When I asked Dexxx about his viewpoint on the disconnect between the nationwide media/audience and Milwaukee, he agreed that, it’s hard to make it out the city because we such a small market city, the music scene here is growing, but slowly.”.
The most unfortunate outcome of Milwaukee’s artists stunted ability to grow into household names is that their attraction to mimicry in regards to their beats and song structures to other cities artists puts an even greater strain on the ability of an artist to make it out of the city, only stirring the frenzy in the bucket as the artists scramble up and over each other to fight their way to the top. This crab in the bucket mentality extends itself in numerous different variations, especially given the small population of the city, and even smaller and tighter knit community that is involved within hip-hop. Dexxx summed it up beautifully by saying, “People have tried to bring artists together but so much has gone on in the streets that it makes it hard.”. Hip-hop takes its roots from the streets with MC’s being street reporters, but when there is not enough space to create separation between the two, the feelings can often override any other potentially beneficial outcome. There have been some efforts to bring the community together over the past several years. As Dexxx recalled, “A couple of years back T Neal, the creator of 414work, had a big concert planned with all the major Milwaukee artists, in addition to doing a big collaboration song called “New Milwaukee” that brought a lot of the city together.”. T Neal was not the only one who was trying to bridge the gaps between Milwaukee artists. TeeGlazedIt, a video producer who has made a name for himself by filming the hottest up and comers out of Milwaukee and doing it in a high quality fashion. His most steady collaboration has been with MKE superstar Lil Chicken, with numerous videos reaching over 1 million views, and Tee added his contribution towards bringing the city together with the song “No Hook” which featured damn near every artist from the brew city. The song easily cleared a million views on YouTube as well as amassing solid numbers on streaming platforms. Even Dexxx and Donno got involved, makes sense given their burgeoning star status in the 414, creating a track with Lil Chicken, YBN Kenny, and the MariBoys called “All-Stars” that did over a million views.
Thank GOD this hasn’t stopped the boys in Brew City from continuing to make slapping music. When it comes to style, a fair number of rappers from Milwaukee definitely sound like they are from the cold and the gritty northern Midwest. The raw, aggressive, emotional beats of both drill and slapp music born in Chicago and Detroit play prominently, lyrics centered around cold hard realities of growing up in those frozen concrete jungles. The similarity between the music from Detroit and Milwaukee in conjunction with Detroit having a much, much larger presence both historically and currently in hip-hop can lead to confusion. Dexxx elaborated on this when asked, stating, “When people hear Milwaukee music, it sounds so similar to Detroit music that people assume it’s actually Detroit music.”, which unfortunately hurts the hometown scenes growth by starving it of recognition and encouraging the mimicry of artists from other cities. Guns, death, trappin, hittin back at opps, and just trying to make it home alive slither thematically in and out of the bars, although in recent years there has been more of a therapeutic release of deep emotional scarring tone behind the voices as hip hop has evolved from the mid-2000’s. It is within this vein of the current hip-hop culture that the Marshall Twins (MT) have established themselves as heavy hitters within the Milwaukee scene. Their current catalogue includes four albums: T4TC, More Than Music, Blue Hearts and Voice of The Youth, along with numerous singles, with many of their songs turned into visuals quickly.
Their sound is unique within the Milwaukee soundscape, their lyrics delivered over more smoothed beats than the slap-type beats that have dominated the city for years. Part of this may be due to their age as their connection to the more melodic sound that has dominated the charts and unfortunately given the misleading title of soundcloud rap has allowed them to use their creative abilities to tap into a medium space that has a larger fan base appeal than the music coming out of the city even five to six years ago. The music that the twins have released is drenched with the stories of their lives coming up in Milwaukee, the struggles, pain, wins and losses but it’s delivery over these beats allow the scars of pain affecting their voices in a way that hits the heart. Together they are able to weave tales of their lives that hit on numerous emotional levels, and it is fortunate for us that they will be staying together for the time being. They have no upcoming releases or tours planned, but keep an eye out on their twitter and Instagram for updates!