Milwaukee has been a seldom heard from contributor to the hip-hop. The city has 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. This barrier has only been broken a couple of times. The first was in 2003 when Coo Coo Cal dropped the infectious, speaker-knocker “My Projects” that 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 worldwide, I can even remember it going off at my middle-school dances. Since then a few artists from the city have gotten edge national attention, but the city still lacks an artist that is genuinely 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.
It is time that the stadium roof is 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, 100k, 1 million video views. Usually, when any artist ANYWHERE is consistently getting over one million views on videos and putting up the same numbers on streams, they would be put up all over social media. When asked about his viewpoint on the disconnect between the national media and Milwaukee music, Dexxx stated, “It’s hard to make it out the city because we such a small market city, the music scene here is growing, but slowly.”
If there is one thing to be said about the Midwest’s status in hip-hop, it is that the lack . What I want to write is about how not having an identity is the Midwest’s identity. We come from places that are considered fly-over, waste of spaces. Milwaukee’s artists lack of identity has bred an attraction to mimicry to cities such as Chicago or Detroit. Milwaukee has been labeled a “crab in the bucket” city, and the mentality extends itself in numerous different variations. Given the relatively small population of the city, and even smaller and tighter knit community that is involved within hip-hop means that separating personal and business can become incredibly difficult. Dexxx summed it up 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 with MC’s acting as street reporters, and when there is not enough space to create separation between the two, personal feelings can often override the business benefits. 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, which 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.
Fortunately, this hasn’t stopped the boys in Brew City from continuing on their path to the top. When it comes to style, many rappers from Milwaukee sound like they are from the cold and the gritty northern Midwest. The raw, aggressive, emotional beats of both drill 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 Detroit and Milwaukee music, in conjunction with Detroit having a much, much larger presence both historically and currently in hip-hop can lead to confusion as to where the artists are actually from. 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. Trappin, and 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.