When talking about hip-hop in America and the entire world, we can all agree that Wisconsin would not exactly make the list of the first places to mention it.
Over the years, hip-hop/rap has travelled, settled in places, and demonstrated some dynamism over the course of its development. But regardless of this, hip-hop has not really taken a solid grasp of some places — even in America.
However, although we might not categorize a place like Wisconsin as one of the major hubs of hip-hop/rap, we still would not deny its active participation in the propagation and preservation of the hip-hop/rap culture.
It might not be like New York City, but over the years, ever since the release of Coo Coo Cal’s 2001 hit “My Projects,” the culture and impact have been getting gradually cohesive and solid in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The hip-hop scene is mostly divided along Milwaukee’s East and North Sides: A great percentage of the city’s street rap is from the North. On the other hand, the Alternative and Experimental rap styles come from the East.
It can be argued that this division is partly the byproduct of the city’s historical segregation. Statistics lists Milwaukee as the 3rd most racially segregated city in America. In this article, we will take a look at 20 rappers from Wisconsin you should start listening to.
The Wisconsin Rap Scene; Some Historical Perspectives
For almost 20 years, a one-hit wonder was the best way to describe Milwaukee rap. Coo Coo Cal’s “My Projects” rap song soared to the top of the charts in 2001, becoming Milwaukee’s first and only No. 1 rap single.
The song was a twist on Southern rap that sounded like store-brand soda. Cal’s 15 minutes, on the other hand, were even shorter than most; however, his success didn’t have a ripple effect.
While the rap scene in Chicago continued producing new stars and ideas, the rap scene in Milwaukee “needed help” finding an audience and an identity.
In recent years, Wisconsin’s rap scene has attracted much attention and interest, with local and national media outlets covering the state’s music and musicians.
The introduction of streaming services has also contributed to the spread of Wisconsin rappers’ music, enabling artists to gain new followers and advance their careers.
The rap scene in Wisconsin is thriving and developing. Many up-and-coming artists make a name for themselves.
The continued songwriting and performance of established Wisconsin rappers further cement Wisconsin’s stature in the rap world, backed by a vibrant community of rappers and fans pushing the genre.
20 Wisconsin Rappers You Should Know
Wisconsin boasts a thriving rap scene that has given birth to many renowned artists and musicians in recent years.
COO COO Cal, Beef, and Dc the Don, among others, are some of the state’s most popular rappers, known for their distinct styles and inventive sounds.
Also, Wisconsin’s rap scene is noted for its wide musical inspirations, with performers pulling inspiration from hip-hop and R&B.
It boasts a thriving hip-hop community, with numerous local venues and events showcasing the finest of Milwaukee’s rap talent. This guide will look at some of the best 20 Wisconsin Rappers you should know.
1. Coo Coo Cal
Calvin Bellamy, better known as Coo Coo Cal, was born on July 4, 1970 born In Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Cal is a rapper and truck driver in the United States. Coo Coos stage name was derived from the names countable and uncountable, which in plural made coo-coos the two-note call of the male common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus), or a cuckoo clock hands replica of it.
The rapper is well-known for the popular song “My Projects” from 2001. “Disturbed,” “Still Walking,” “All or Nothing,” and “Death Before Dishonour (Kill the Snitches)” are among the albums he has released over his musical career.
Nothing could match the success of “Disturbed” despite the release of follow-up albums in 2002 and 2004. In 2018, Coo Coo released “Home,” a song that was a love letter to Milwaukee.
The song is also included in his same-year debut documentary, and his love for Milwaukee’s real urban side is displayed in the song. Bellamy considers Milwaukee, Wisconsin, his home even though he resides in Atlanta.
Lakeyah Danaee Robinson is a Milwaukee-born, Atlanta-based rapper born on February 28, 2001.
Lakeyah first started rapping and singing when she was a teen. At 15, Lakeyah started her rap journey as a member of the duo BTM (Beyond the Music).
In 2017, the duo’s video “Fucked up love story” was a major hit. However, Lekeyah left the duo group and began her solo career.
At 17, she released “The Keymix,” which earned over a million streams. She released “Keymix 2” after relocating to Atlanta.
Lakeyah became famous in 2019 after remixing a City Girls hit, “First Day Out.” After posting two additional energetic freestyles to Lil Baby’s “Sum 2 Prove” and “We Paid,” her Viral freestyle grabbed the attention of Quality Control Music, and she signed with the company in 2020.
Lakeyah signed with Motown Records in June 2022. Here are some of her top popular songs:
3. R.A.P. Ferreira
The rapper’s full name is Rory Allen Philip Ferreira. He was born on February 3, 1992. Ferreira is a producer and rapper from Kenosha, Wisconsin. he also goes by the name Milo.
Ferreira and his father relocated to Kenosha, Wisconsin, when Ferreira was a teenager. His uncle, a battle rapper NIZM, introduced him to hip hop by playing Nas’s music.
In addition to participating in theatre at school, he spent much of his leisure time honing his hip-hop skills.
As a member of the hip-hop group Nom de Rap, which also included the rappers Nicholas J and AD the Architect from Kenosha and Wisconsin
Ferreira founded his label, Ruby Yatch (stylized as RBYT), in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The label is wholly self-owned and self-financed by Ferreira and is named after the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and his grandmother.
He also owns Soulfolks Records in Biddeford, Maine, which opened in April 2018, where Ruby Yacht was run from.
he store mostly sells indie rap music and offers CDs, vinyl, and cassettes. In Biddeford, Maine, it is also the sole record shop.
4. DC the Don
Daijon Cotty Davis was born on August 3, 1999. He is professionally known as DC the Don. DC the Don is an American rapper, singer, and songwriter from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Aside from being a rapper, he is also a former basketball player playing with the Amateur Athletic Union organization. Dc is signed under Rostrum Records. He has released several albums, namely;
Kenneth C. Coby (born August 1, 1988), best known by his stage name Soundz, is an American record producer and rapper from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, signed to US Records and EMI Publishing.
He is a producer specialising in Hip-Hop, and R&B. Soundz has produced several songs in these genres, including One Chance’s “Look at Her.” It was released as a single by J Records on July 26, 2006, featuring Fabo of the rap group D4L and produced by Soundz.
He has produced music for Chris Brown, Ciara, Pitbull, Brandy, Justin Bieber, Trina, and Young Boss, among others. The following are some of the songs which Soundz produced or co-produced:
- Pitbull- The Boatlift
- Usher- Here I Stand
- Chris Brown- X(Album) 101(Interlude)
6. Nick Hexum
Nick Hexum, best known as a member of the rap/reggae/pop group 311, is also a laid-back jazz and soul-influenced solo performer who plays in the Nick Hexum Quintet with his brother, guitarist Zack Hexum.
Hexum was born in Wisconsin in 1970 and grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, where he was a member of his high school jazz band and established various local rock bands.
Hexum relocated to Los Angeles in 1988 to perform music with his Unity band, which included Ward Bones, Chad Sexton, and Marcus Watkins.
This band, however, quickly disbanded. Hexum relocated to Germany in 1990, and while there, he received an invitation from Sexton, who was in Omaha.
Fish Hippos, Sexton’s band, shared a stage with Fugazi, and he called Hexum to join them.
Hexum agreed but suggested the band’s name needed to be replaced. They declared from the stage that their name was 311 at that concert, and he became the band’s manager.
Dammit!, Unity and Hydroponic were the three albums issued by the band. The band relocated to Los Angeles in 1992 to pursue a record deal, and Capricorn Records signed them.
311 has released 13 big-label recordings since then and performed over 2,000+ performances in all 50 states and 27 countries. Amber, You Wouldn’t Believe, Down, Creatures (For a While), and many more were some of their hits.
Clifton Grefe, also known as Beefy, is an American rapper, singer, record producer, songwriter, author, sociologist, and journalist from Madison, Wisconsin.
He was born on October 12, 1985, and started rapping in his early teens. After finishing college, he released his first debut with Quincy Kwalae, coastie Song(what’s a coastie), which received so much criticism, especially from people on the coast.
They later adopted Zooniversity Music and released songs like My Biddy and The Red Zebra Exhibit.
In 2010, the two premiered their first rap video, Teach Me How To Bucky, which was named the video of the year for 2011 by Madison Area Music Awards, following its popularity on youtube. The group then broke out.
Beef began his solo career with a mixtape, The Sun and Moon. In 2012, he launched Basement Made, a production and publication company; in 2013, he released another mixtape, The Grime Tape, and relocated to Los Angeles.
While in Los Angeles, he released albums and songs such as; Chapter II: Double Major
In 2015, Beef wrote an article about Midwest Hip Hop named Madison Hip Hop Needs Renaissance To Pop, and in 2016, he wrote yet another, The Winsconsin Soul; The Best Rappers Out Of The Banger State.
In 2017, Beef returned to Wisconsin, where he has continued to release his singles and albums.
8. Darrell Edward Brooks Jr
Black rapper Darrell Edward Brooks Jr. also goes by the stage name MathBoi Fly. Born and reared in Milwaukee, Darrel was an aspiring rapper who used many pseudonyms to upload music videos and songs on social media.
He identified himself as an “Underground Hip-Hop/Rap/Drill recording artist/producer/writer and actor from Milwaukee.
Darrel used a variety of pseudonyms when posting songs and music videos on social media. With the release of his first mixtape in 2014, Fly used music to express the life he led on the streets.
He boasts about a lengthy experience in the street game, legal troubles, and personal losses while claiming to have released the highly acclaimed underground mixtape “Price of Admission” (sic).
He posted a song titled “Cnt Get Enough” on another profile, using the username Jay Fly 21.
Having a lengthy criminal history, on November 16, 2022, Brook was found guilty of murder and is presently serving a life sentence without the option of extended supervision for each of the six charges of first-degree intentional homicide on the Waukesha Christmas Parade killing and other criminal offenses.
Todd Thomas was born in 1968, on October 25. He was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and performs under the stage name Speech.
Speech joined with fellow DJ Headliner to form the duo Arrested Development in 1987. The group released its debut album, 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of
Speech afterwards pursued a solo career. Additionally, he founded Vagabond Productions to serve as a platform for Arrested Development’s financial dealings.
He also promoted rock, hip-hop, and neo-soul events in Atlanta. On January 23, 1996, he released his debut solo album, Speech. Speech and Arrested Development rejoined in 2000.
10. K CAMP
Kristopher Thomas Campbell, best known as K Camp, is an American rapper born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin who grew up in Atlanta, Georgia.
Campbell began performing in high school in a band group known as HBC (Head Busser Clique). After the trio disbanded in 2009, he released All Night.
K Camp is popularly known for the tracks Comfortable, Money Baby, and Cut Her Off, the latter of which received a BET Hip Hop Awards nomination in 2014.
His album, “Only Way Is Up”, debuted in September 2015 and on the Billboard 200 list, it was number 20.
K camp has released 22 songs, 13 mixtapes, and 5 studio albums. He is signed to three record labels: EMPIRE, Interscope Records, and The 740 Project.
Sam Ahmed, known as WebsterX, was born on September 24, 1993. The Milwaukee-based alt-rap singer and songwriter WebsterX blends indie-rock and hip-hop.
His work compares depression and hopes with psychedelic instrumentation. Webster, who comes from a musical family, dropped out of university to pursue music.
In 2013, he released Desperate Youth, his first mixtape, and his 2015 single Doomsday garnered national press. Daymares, produced by Simen Sez, was the Journal Sentinel’s Best Milwaukee Album of 2017.
WebsterX is a co-founder of FreeSpace and supports youth-oriented community engagement. His notable songs include ;
Brandon Thomas, also known as bliss and Alice, grew up as an only child in Wausau, Wisconsin.
In 2014, Bliss&Alice released his first album Poetry Volume One – The Shit Talker Tape, which showcases a newfound quality in bliss the song’s repertoire: restraint.
It’s a new skill in his rapidly expanding repertoire that adds warmth, emotion, and mystery to the album. In 2016, Bliss&Alice released his second album, Mama Tried, which has received positive reviews on Soundcloud.
BoodahDARR is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-born American rapper, and hip-hop artist. He is known as IshDARR’s brother, who also has a profound name in the hip-hop scene.
BoodadDARR is part of a rap group based in Wisconsin called Creamy Ciy Motion. However, BoodahDARR has worked on a solo debut, Almighty, and it’s the only solo rap song he has released.
One cannot fail to notice the different rap BoodahDARR has embraced compared to his younger brother IshDARR. His track and lines are more sombre in mood and gritter.
14. Mic Kellogg
Mic Kellogg, a Madison, Wisconsin native raised in a spoken word and hip-hop environment, experienced his first taste of self-expression during high school. Mic discovered his talent for songwriting and artistic direction.
In 2011, he relocated to Colorado, where he produced beats for two years. He moved to Milwaukee to pursue music more seriously with WebsterX after tearing his ACL.
As a producer, Mic established himself in the Milwaukee music scene. He independently produced his debut album, Breakfast, in 2015.
Since the release of Breakfast, Kellogg has put out several singles and worked on songs with Rahn Harper and Lucien.
Keep Lovin, the lead single from his most recent Eps, Make This Last, was released on September 21, 2018.
Mic started a four-piece band in 2019 and has since continued to record music. He has worked on an EP with his backup singer Riah Rivera, which he released in 2020.
Yo-Dot started his music career In the late 2000s, joining the Milwaukee hip-hop scene as a member of the Umbrella Music Group.
After taking a break, he released one of his most popular projects, Red Mist, in 2012. This 11-track album is honest about his views and struggles as a rapper and father.
16. Reggie Bonds
Though much is unknown, Reggie Bonds was born in Wisconsin and grew up there. Bonds lives in Los Angeles now but still has strong ties to Milwaukee and its music scene.
Reggie has worked with the Milwaukee singer Siren and the rapper Lil Saucy in his music. Bond’s latest album also has songs by other performers from Wisconsin.
He has played keys with Klassik and Jermaine Rideout, saxophone with Scott Summers, and guitar with AJ Kartz. Some of his songs include;
Though Emaad has only a few songs, Emaad is one of the best-known rappers locally in Wisconsin.
Emaad is part of a rap group called Umbrella Music Group in Wisconsin. Emaad has released bangers such as everybody, Motion City, and Never Know in his solo career.
Under the alias Klassik, rapper, singer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Kellen Lewis Abston has been a mainstay of Milwaukee’s music scene for many years.
On November 22, 2019, the 19th anniversary of his father’s murder, he released QUIET, his most recent album, which took four years.
According to Klassik, the delay was brought on by numerous struggles with mental health and the shackles of the late-night lifestyle that so many musicians experience.
In December, he won the Critics’ Choice Album of the Year award and Best Solo Artist at the Radio Milwaukee Music Awards. Some of Klassik bangers are;
19. Wave Chapelle
Pay up Wave Chapelle was born on February 5, 1994. He is currently 29 years. Wave grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the United States.
He is a hip hop/rap artist with a record company called Wave Chapelle Music LLC, through which listeners can stream his music. Wave now has five albums to his credit. Some of his albums and songs include;
Wave Chapelle has a record deal with 916 Records.
20. Lorde Fredd33
The North Side of Milwaukee, where Fredd33 grew up, is home to most of the city’s black people. Fredd33 has been bouncing about the Milwaukee rap scene for a few years; since 2015.
He has been working primarily with Q the Sun, a local producer who’s landed beats for rap blog mainstays like milo and WebsterX.
Fredd33 exhibits an acrobatic grasp of his trade, mixing up flows, copying the cadences of other rappers, and contorting his voice into various forms.
He paints a portrait of an artist and the place that shaped him with this vibrant palette of colours.
The rap movement in Wisconsin is a thriving and exciting aspect of the state’s rap scene. Wisconsin’s rap scene is poised for continued growth and success, with brilliant musicians like those we’ve mentioned leading the way.
The city has plenty to offer everyone, regardless of whether you prefer hip-hop or R&B, and its thriving live music scene is a testament to the skill and variety of its musicians.
It is a hotbed for emerging rap artists, and its influence on the music business will only increase.