An e-zine for happenings of local culture in Milwaukee and elsewhere

Archive for March, 2012

Post-Hip, The Cure vs. The Smiths, Mad Planet

Dark and eclectic, Mad Planet did its usual service providing temporary abode to wayward fun-seekers, freak flags waving. Everything from sport coats to jeggings were barely visible between the dim-dive ambiance and the shocking zips of colored light emitting from the dance floor laser effects. Personally partial to The Cure‘s earlier sounds, dance-synth and saxophone infused tunes of The Smiths interrupted the heavy crunch and symbols The Cure kept around even post-punk.

Surprisingly, The Cure’s tribute to Albert Camus, Killing an Arab, made it into the set and was complimented with subtler emotional hits that The Cure well know for off of albums like Faith. Love that album and Mad Planet for making Riverwest Milwaukee’s Hell’s Kitchen/Theater District and being the burn-out/play hard club for a night; the kind of venue where you can make-out shamelessly with your girlfriend in a corner like the dead-beat lovers that you are.

Mad Planet sticks with the regularly scheduled Retro-Dance Party this Friday night and the Saturday Night Get Down returns April 14.

It Could Happen to You, Million Hoodie March

I’m from the Chronic generation. Let me explain, in 1992 I was younger than Travon Martin. I was in middle school when Dr. Dre’s The Chronic came out, a year later Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle dropped. If N.W.A. and Tupac were the watersheds for “Gangster” hitting the surface of pop culture, Dr. Dre, with the commercial success of his work, made it mainstream, and frankly “cool”, i.e. a style of itself separated from the lifestyle. With all it’s dimensions, and even though I cheat frequently, Hip-Hop, like for many others, is the love of my life. In the time since, we must collectively and rhetorically ask, has the “Black Gangster” image become the default prevailing image of all Black males?

I eventually found my way out of the wilderness of black youth on my own, finding ways to build and express my identity around more influences that just music,  but not without bumps and bruises. I even achieved greatly, by some standards, earning an advanced degree at a top tier research institution. On my way to receiving my degree, I had an interesting encounter with a classmate.

Check Your Head

Working on my group senior thesis project, a teammate and I were working late in the micro-computing lab on a statistical analysis component of our project. As with most dank computing labs, time warps occur and before I knew it it was well after 1:00am. My group partner and I decided to wrap things up.

Not knowing I lived about a mile and a half away from where we were on campus (which was not considered far), she asked me if I wanted a ride home. At first I declined, but my pride caved, I confided that I didn’t feel like being followed home by the police (which I typically took nonchalantly as a matter of course). To this she responded “Well you don’t look like the most demure person”, which to me translated to ‘If I saw you on the street and didn’t know you any better, I would think you were a street thug that probably would warrant some following’.

My mind was completely blown. We had just spent the last 6 hours in the absolutely geekiest place you could be on earth after midnight… and I wasn’t wearing a hoody. It was a situation to grow on. Not one to resent or change someones mind on, but one to grow on. That night, what happened to Travon Martin, could have happened to me.

No Flats, Busdriver, Cactus Club

I’m stepping on a thousand cigarette butts on the way in, it’s not dark and smokey in the Cactus Club anymore, but still a little dank on the music side. Someone on staff managed to keep a VHS tape of an old Arsenio Hall episode featuring N.W.A from being magnetized after all these years and its playing on wall-mounted t.v. monitors, nice.

Among the sippers, a sturdily built dude stands-out reviving shades of Trugoy during the Daisy Age crossed with Starski. If any one has a license Busdriver does, his pops wrote Krush Groove. Plus looks can be deceiving, Busdriver’s styles on the mic don’t need image to generate uniqueness.

The Un- to Fame

A musical dervish, Busdriver worked whatever electronic synth-instrument he was hovered over like a steering wheel to jerk the crowd through audio turns, unbelievably speeding up a Scott Joplin riff and ripping it on Me Time and, on Imaginary Places, annihilating a track that sounded familiar to the classic BeastiesFloop Loops sample, right after swinging out of a dub Reggae toast.

Busdriver himself is an unsung classic, notably contributing to the Aceyalone-led Project Blowed, way back then, and completed a better know collaboration with Daedalus, worth checking out even if you’re behind the indie-hop scene.

Check out this 10 year-old baby

Something newer for your knew

Milwaukee’s got the Catus

Busdriver did it up setting the Cactus Club stage for Astronautalis, an indie-fun-twirl group that mashes up the music spectrum really well, while highlighting how formulated mainstream hip-hop as a sound has become. Digital music producer Jel was scheduled on the undercard, didn’t her him live, however fluid, harmonic, ambient beats deserve a mention anyway. Milwaukee got a real treat before Busdriver and Astronautalis make their way to SXSW.

Busdriver‘s latest album Beaus$Eros dropped February 21st on Fake Four [records], the sample track here does well to call out dutiful social exclusion.

Related Article
Q&A: Busdriver by Meaghann Korbel, Alarm Press

Causes That Can’t Wait, Kony 2012


Jason Russel is an activist that has taken film and narrative to new heights to raise awareness of a long hidden conflict in central Uganda. The West has seen glimpses of social, political and economic violent crimes prevalent in the African continent through Hollywood dramatizations like Blood Diamond and documentaries like Ghosts of Rwanda, but what started out as Russel’s campaign against injustice and violence has become the global communities’ campaign.

The Kony 2012 movement wants the world to know Joseph Kony. For twenty years, he remained largely nameless, just a blurb on on the back pages of mainstream media. During that time he has tortured, maimed and killed thousands of his own people. In your own way you can participate in the effort to stop more lives from being hurt. Follow the link to find out how to help Russel spread the word about what’s happened to the families and children of central Uganda and what’s bound to happen to more without intervention.

A Foggy Mist, Westown, Riverwalk

As if the this season wasn’t strange enough weather-wise, our extra winter leap day was clad in fog. The dense vapor gave the Riverwalk at Mason Street an awe inspiring haze, as the bridge engineers do their duty tiny compared to the raised platform.

On the way down Wells, towards that great triangle shaped area between Plankington and 2nd Streets the new tapas restaurant España creates a weird Euro Zone time warp, its sign footnoting the regal Germania Building.

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