Hiii Tribe Does Moon Room At Landmark
The Milwaukee hip hop collective Hiii Tribe brought a dark, aggressive hip hop showcase to the Moon Room at Landmark Lanes Friday night, hosted by hip hop artist Spaidez. The bill featured several of Milwaukee’s premiere alternative hip hop acts – Nick Grace, Mvgic, Higher Power, and Guerrilla Ghost.
Nick Grace just released an EP – “DEDBOI.”
“The idea of the DEDBOI EP was how I was going through a really tough time in my life around the start of 2019 and I had all these half-finished songs I never really pieced together. I decided I was going to literally force myself through my depression to finish those concepts…and I felt like a fucking zombie the whole time, so I felt like DEDBOI was a fitting name for the project…I was effectively not even alive while I was creating. There were some nights I was running on Monster, willpower, and the will to not be useless. The cover art I made in a random drunk 5am Photoshop fit before a 6am shift at my day job.”
He has been performing more frequently lately.
“I’ve been performing pretty much every other week for the past month and a half. It’s weird though…I used to almost never perform and now I have been a ton. I kinda wanna find a balance there cuz I’ve noticed it started taking a toll on my personal life. I’m always at the studio cooking up for the next show, on different stages…and then I record people too, so my family never sees me anymore.”
Guitarist Maleek Patterson accompanied him on stage. Grace weighs in on what Patterson contributes to the energy of his performance.
“I think Maleek adds another layer of spontaneity to it. I’m kind of a loose cannon already but Maleek’s energy is different than mine and he’s not timid about it, which is cool. I need that to match my recklessness on stage. He’s mad talented on guitar; he has musicianship I don’t have. I’m mostly an engineer and a lyricist and I compose a decent amount of my music, but it’s mostly clicking things into the grid of FL Studio – I can’t play a piano or guitar. He can learn one of my songs in a minute and a half.”
Nick Grace is working on a volume two for DEDBOI. He also has a heavy rock and metal influence, which he plans to utilize for a trap-metal project he is currently cooking up as well.
Mvgic is an Eastside-based rapper who just dropped a debut studio album “Magnum Opus” in January. He had an album release party at Cactus Club.
“The whole process behind it is that it’s a masterpiece,” Mvgic said about his album. “That’s why the merchandise came out how it did. It’s my best work so far but it’s going to continue to get better. It’s been a growth spurt.”
Mvgic dropped mixtapes when he was a teenager, but he does not perform songs from that era.
“I get asked so many times by my friends, but those are expired. I hate saying no to a request but they’re just not relevant anymore.”
Mvgic is on a quest to record one hundred songs this year and he is about a quarter of the way there – he is on pace.
Higher Power are a hip hop duo consisting of William Pinter and Elijah Baranyk-Smith. Their new LP “Cthulhu” dropped on New Year’s Day, which also happened to be their six-year anniversary as Higher Power. This show marked the first time many of their tracks off Cthulhu had been performed.
“We got the idea from H.P. Lovecraft; he had a book called Call of Cthulhu. There was a thing where when Cthulhu dies he would have this green mist that would make him regenerate and we took that piece of it. It says we’re resilient and no matter what darkness comes our way, we’ll regenerate.”
Pinter explains how their new record is different from their previous work, specifically “The Lock Collection.”
“The Lock Collection was a lot of beats that we leased from different producers and wanted to try different styles to see what we wanted to do with the next album. We went into our album “The Vault” following Lock 1, 2, and 3…and we just kept building. I’d say the Locks were a great place for us to experiment.”
The duo reflects on how the music scene is different now from how it was when they started.
“Going from there to right now, I mean we were going into rough areas. We had biker gangs right outside of where we were playing. They weren’t even exactly venues; it’d be in backyards. We had a different crowd back then too and they were more into hardcore stuff,” Baranyk-Smith said.
“Now it’s more of an actual hip hop scene. We do have that darker vibe but I think it sets us apart and I think we can still fit with regular hip hop. It’s more positive; I like the shows and it’s a good time. Milwaukee’s music scene has grown and has gotten more united,” Pinter added.
Higher Power is working on a new EP with an Indiana artist, DeMar Taylor, who went to school with Pinter. They also host a podcast called “The Higher Power Hour” which can be found on their website and Facebook page.
Guerrilla Ghost is an experimental hip hop duo made of Martin Defatte and Christopher Charles “Chuck” Jones. Their sound is self-described as what happens “when punk and thrash kids try to make hip hop music.” The duo had been involved with that kind of stuff prior to this.
Defatte produces live while Jones carries out vocals. Their debut album “Perpetually Sad Motion Machine” came out last November and deals heavily with political subject matter. Jones explains.
“It makes reference and talks about a lot of topics that are just now recently becoming mainstream…health care, drug abuse, domestic violence, the Trump administration…these have all been underlying problems that have been discussed in underground communities and now the time is right to create a dialogue about these things because I feel a lot of us that listen to this style of music want a change and want to be a community. All those things are addressed on the album, some more strongly than others.”
“I think in this age, information travels so fast and freely that it’s easy to shine a light on this. Especially with hashtags, people can see others with the same struggle in their lives, and people band together,” Defatte added.
“As a lyricist I try to read the paper every day and see what’s on the news and in pop culture. That’s how we stay relevant to what we’re presenting in the songs, even though attention span in the entertainment world is very fickle,” Jones said.
Jones screeches a lot in Guerrilla Ghost songs, which he is used to doing from being in punk and metal bands. He has his own perfected technique to make his voice not hurt.
“His warm-up exercises are hilarious,” Defatte laughed.
Guerrilla Ghost is working on remixes of local artists (including Devils Teeth and Dramatic Lovers), a number of industrial-dance singles, and an EP that they all plan on releasing later this year. They play Triple Eye Industries Fest IV in early June and Reptile Palace in Oshkosh on June 14th.