DMX rose from a difficult upbringing to multi-platinum success

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Earl Simmons, better known as the rapper DMX, has died. According to a statement from his family, he died today at White Plains Hospital after being on life support for the past few days.

“Earl was a warrior who fought till the very end. He loved his family with all of his heart and we cherish the times we spent with him. Earl’s music inspired countless fans across the world and his iconic legacy will live on forever. We appreciate all of the love and support during this incredibly difficult time,” said the statement. He was 50 years old.

Getty Images DMX

DMX had a signature rasp to his voice. He delivered his lines with a desperate aggression that propelled his debut album It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot to multi-platinum level sales. He followed that up with a string of chart-topping albums that included songs like “Party Up (Up In Here).” His rise in music also gave way to acting, in movies such as Belly, Romeo Must Die, and Cradle 2 the Grave.

DMX was born Earl Simmons in Mount Vernon, NY in 1970. He told the podcast People’s Party with Talib Kweli that as a child he suffered from asthma that would keep him awake at night. In his 2003 autobiography, E.A.R.L: The Autobiography of DMX, he wrote that he was abused and neglected by his young mother. He ended up living in a children’s home. When he was 14, he told Kweli a mentor of his tricked him into smoking crack. He struggled with drug addiction for the rest of his life.

In It’s Dark and Hell is Hot, DMX reflected on his past: the robberies he committed and violence he enacted. It also introduced the world to his love of dogs, repeatedly using dog imagery and sometimes literally barking ad-libs. Later in his autobiography he would write about being a teenager and care of stray dogs, tending to them as a way of coping with his troubled home life.

Shortly after his debut, he began acting in movies. In 1998 he and Nas co-starred in the crime movie Belly, where DMX played a young criminal on the rise. But as DMX’s fame grew, so did his addictions. When he appeared on the reality TV show Iyanla Fix My Life, he said that whatever problems he had with drugs before, “it was nothing like it was when I got money.” He was also arrested multiple times for drug possession, animal cruelty, and tax fraud.

DMX was a devout Christian, and would end his live sets with a prayer. In a 2019 interview with GQ, he talked about being so overwhelmed after shows, he’d need a private moment of his own to pray. “I just take a minute for myself and just, I thank Him, I praise Him. And I’m like, ‘Thank you, thank you.’ I’m like, ‘Who am I to deserve this?’ We all bleed the same blood.”

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Roger Waters will play Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum in 2022

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Like all tours last year, Roger Waters’ “This is Not a Drill” tour was scrapped due to the pandemic, along with a planned date at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum last August. But now the 77-year-old Pink Floyd veteran has announced makeup dates, along with a scheduled return to Milwaukee.

As part of his 36-date tour, Waters will play Fiserv Forum on July 28, 2022.

Roger Waters | Courtesy of the artist

“Challenging and thought-provoking, the tour continues Waters’ message of Love and will be, for the first time, In The Round,” according to a press release.

In an updated statement, Rogers adds that “This Is Not A Drill is a ground breaking new rock and roll/cinematic extravaganza, performed in the round, it is a stunning indictment of the corporate dystopia in which we all struggle to survive, and a call to action to LOVE, PROTECT and SHARE our precious and precarious planet home. The show includes a dozen great songs from PINK FLOYD’S GOLDEN ERA alongside several new ones, words and music, same writer, same heart, same soul, same man. Could be his last hurrah. Wow! My first farewell tour! Don’t miss it.”

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Khalid becomes second headliner to cancel on Summerfest 2021

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Summerfest is still moving ahead with plans for a September return — and by all reports its organizers are optimistic it will happen — but it remains to be seen what the festival’s lineup will look like.

Today pop and R&B singer Khalid became the second headliner to cancel on the event. He’d originally been scheduled to perform at Summerfest’s American Family Insurance Amphitheater in 2020, then to play a rescheduled date on June 24, 2021. But now organizers say he’s unavailable for Summerfest’s new September dates.  “We hope to see him next year,” Summerfest wrote in a statement.

Refunds for ticketholders are available at the point of purchase. 

Khalid | Courtesy photo

In January, pop singer Halsey canceled her summer tour, which had been set to include a Summerfest stop. It remains to be seen which, and how many, of the headliners Summerfest had booked for its American Family Insurance Amphitheater will be able to play the new September dates.

Summerfest is planning on its 2021 festival taking place over three consecutive weekends (Thursdays-Saturdays) Sept. 2-4, 9-11 and 16-18, 2021. The festival says more information about the lineup will be announced “in the weeks to come.”

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Bully will play the Back Room at Colectivo in August

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As vaccines offer an end in sight to the Covid-19 pandemic, bands and musicians have gradually begun announcing tours again. Bully is the latest to join them. Today the indie-rocker announced a tour that includes a stop at Milwaukee’s Back Room at Colectivo on Monday, Aug. 30.

Tickets go on sale Friday, April 9, at noon, with a pre-sale the day before.

Bully | Courtesy photo

Last year Bully released her excellent latest album “SUGAREGG.”

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Artists from the new Amplifier program light up the Hoan Bridge in April

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In October of 2020, the team at Light the Hoan and Radio Milwaukee announced a partnership to bring the city an amazing light show that syncs up with Milwaukee music through the 88.9 FM airwaves. Every Saturday evening at 9 p.m., our evening DJ and “In The Mix” host Kenny Perez curates the sounds that will drive the Hoan Bridge light show.

In March we celebrated Women’s History Month with some awesome musicians. For the month of April, Light the Hoan and 88Nine will have the lights dancing in the night sky by celebrating the four chosen artists in our new Amplifier program.

  • Leosha Stones, better known as The Oshi, is a Bajan-American rapper and producer. Stones released her self-titled EP in 2019 and launched into 2021 with the new album “Confidential.” In February, The Oshi was featured on an R3LL track “Fantasy,” which was written up in Billboard and EDM Network. April 3, 2021
  • Maxwell James is an Americana singer-songwriter with a focus on rhythm and melody. In 2018, he released his self-titled EP and single “Roll Down Your Windows Slowly,” which peaked on both the Indie and National Radio digital charts. His sophomore album “Wheels,” coming after winning Third Man Records’ Guitar for Gifts songwriting competition, was entirely self-performed and produced in his home studio. April 10, 2021
  • Marcus McFarlin, also known as Elder Mac, is a gospel vocalist and producer. He also runs his own music production company, Elder Mac Entertainment, in Milwaukee. McFarlin has been releasing music since 2011 and has earned major praise in the gospel industry, including winning The UpTV Network’s 2014 Most Powerful Voice competition and being named one of the 2020 BMI Trailblazers of Gospel Award Honorees. April 17, 2021
  • Valerie Lighthart is a folk-pop songstress who brings a multidisciplinary approach to her music. She tempers fun melodies with the sense of something a few shades darker and first came on the scene through collaboration with electronic duo Immortal Girlfriend. In 2018, Valerie released her debut EP “V.A.L.” via N43 Records and followed that up with the EP “Places” the next year. In 2020, she dropped two singles, each with its own music video. April 24, 2021
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From Megan Thee Stallion’s big night to Bad Bunny’s loud hat: Our 2021 Grammy reactions

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If you missed last night’s Grammy Awards, you missed a lot. Luckily Radio Milwaukee’s Tarik Moody, Justin Barney and Kenny Perez are here to recap it for you. The three hopped on Slack this morning to share their takeaways from music’s biggest night. (You can find the complete list of Grammy winners here).

Justin: Alright y’all. What did you think of the Grammy’s last night?

DJ Kenny Perez: I thought the format was great. Trevor Noah is a trip!

Tarik: It was surprising to see all the Black nominees for the biggest category and it went to Billie Eilish even though Megan had a bigger year.

Justin: Yeah, the Grammy’s kind of have a history with that

Remember when it was like Kendrick, Jay-Z and all Black artists up for Rap Album of the Year and Macklemore won?

Grammy’s did get better in the nomination, but still have a hard time giving a major award to a Black artist who deserves it more. Billie Eilish seemed to recognize it though

Tarik: Yep. I noticed that Grammy board director talked about them needing to do more work.

DJ Kenny Perez: They have to do more work.

Tarik: Only 24% of this year’s top Grammy nominees were Black, according to the study. And even that number is misleading, because it includes Black artists featured on White performers’ songs.

Justin: I understand why they don’t give it to chart toppers though. They have the Billboard awards for that. But yes, a way to go for rewarding Black artists making great art

They had good representation in the performances though and I felt like, given the circumstances, the performances were better than I thought they were going to be

Tarik: I also like the performance by the woman country singers.

They gave some love to Rita Houston from WFUV too

Justin: OMG I texted like five people. It was great to see her memorialized

Tarik: I agree the performances were well-rounded.

Justin: I felt like each performance was like a Tiny Desk with more production

Like an average-sized-desk show

Tarik: love that they recognized venues during the ceremony, like Apollo Theater and Hotel Cafe

I was wondering how many of the artists got vaccinated because they were hugging like crazy

Justin: At first, when they did the first three performances and they panned to the five other people in the room for reaction shots every couple seconds I thought it was going to be cringy

Tarik: I really want to hang out with Megan and talk anime with her.

Justin: think we all want that, Tarik

DJ Kenny Perez: Megan was so humble during her speech with Beyonce by her side.

Justin: That was super fun

Houston represent

Tarik: I love that they were both from Houston

DJ Kenny Perez: Cardi was brutal.

Justin: What? I thought Cardi was great

The heel as the pole?! That was great! Felt like we stepped into the Matrix at the beginning of her set

DJ Kenny Perez: Lip sync or don’t. Megan was present in her mic. The costumes were awesome I will give her that.

Justin: One thing I think we can agree on was that it was too long

There was NO REASON for it to run over time this year

Tarik: It is all about ego

DJ Kenny Perez: Clearly about the stars that evening

Justin:  They could have cut 25% of it, EASY

Milwaukee showed up though. CameOne got his Grammy for producing on Kanye’s “Jesus Is King,” Best Contemporary Christian album

DJ Kenny Perez: I was so happy for him, Kaytranda, Kali Uchis, Bad Bunny!

Tarik: I kind of feel like there will be new awards shows in the future from places like TikTok that will be more popular.

Justin: Also Snarky Puppy won for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album

Tarik: Thundercat won, too

Justin: What do y’all think of Taylor winning Album of the Year?

Tarik: I don’t know. I feel like it was low hanging fruit. Ohh look Taylor is working with Bon Iver.  Let’s give to her.

Justin: That’s how I felt on that too

Tarik: I feel some of the judges really don’t know music.  They know image

DJ Kenny Perez: Taylor is talented, Bon Iver was a great collab and a smart move.

Justin: Overall, I think it really was Megan Thee Stallion’s night though

She’s the story coming out

DJ Kenny Perez: Even without record of the year I agree.

Justin: She won some that she deserved. She lost some that she deserved. She had a killer performance. She was great on the mic. She won.

Kenny, what was going on with that Bad Bunny hat though?

And the sunflower

DJ Kenny Perez: Bad Bunny will forever be the wildcard despite the stream #’s

Justin: Like, I’m all here for a bold fashion statement, but those were a little loud

DJ Kenny Perez: He is a free spirit and I think he plays it up well. Reggaeton is hyper masculine and the sound needs someone to step away from that.

Justin: Also, I love Black Pumas. Truly. But I don’t understand why so many albums got passed up so that a deluxe version of their album from two years ago could get nominated

It’s just strange

They did a great produced piece and I get the pull of the story and the goodwill they garner. But still

DJ Kenny Perez: Being on stage at the concert last year at the Riverside gave me a whole different respect for that band. Everyone is sooooo cool!

The Grammys made me more nostalgic for live concerts.

Justin: For some reason it didn’t for me cause those don’t feel like real concerts. I don’t long for a Fiserv Forum show, I miss a Cactus Club show

We will get there though

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Purity Ring announce Turner Hall Ballroom show in November

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It’s going to take some time to get used to concert announcements again, but with the rapid acceleration of Covid-19 vaccine distribution comes the very real possibility that indoor concerts could soon be safe again. Purity Ring are the latest band to prepare for that possibility.

Today the Canadian electro-pop duo announced a rescheduled tour behind their third album, 2020’s “Womb,” and it includes a Nov. 2 concert at Milwaukee’s Turner Hall Ballroom.

CDB Studio Purity Ring | Courtesy photo

Tickets are on sale now.

The band has also shared a new video for the song “sinew,” which you can stream below. Like almost everything these days, it involves masks.

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Radio Milwaukee and Light the Hoan are lighting up the Milwaukee skyline every Saturday night

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In October of 2020, the team at Light the Hoan and Radio Milwaukee announced a partnership to bring the city an amazing light show that syncs up with Milwaukee music through the 88.9 FM airwaves. Every Saturday evening at 9 p.m., our evening DJ and “In The Mix” host Kenny Perez curates the sounds that will drive the Hoan Bridge light show.

In February we celebrated Black History Month with some legendary Milwaukee artists, such as Coo Coo Cal, Al Jarreau and more. In March we are celebrating Women’s History Month with an awesome lineup that only touches the surface of the kind of talent we have here in our city.

March 6, 2021 – Dead Horses

March 13, 2021 – Kaylee Crossfire

March 20, 2021 – Cristina Aylin

March 26, 2021 – Amanda Huff

Below is an example of what you’ll experience during a show. Now how to experience a show is a fairly easy process. Head downtown, look towards the lake, dial us in on 88.9 FM in your car or the download the 88Nine App to your smart phone and enjoy the light show! Here is the full Light the Hoan schedule.

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Hayley Williams draws from mythology and grief on ‘Flowers for Vases’

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“Myth is the threshold of history.” Saidiya Hartman stakes this claim in Lose Your Mother, a tale of myth, fiction and the root causes of subjugation. Hartman, like the countless women before her, bridges the gap between fictional worlds of lived trauma and restoration. Hayley Williams, in her second solo album, counts herself among the women who blur the lines of myth and reality. On Flowers for Vases / descansos, she makes a way, but never a destination to reclaim selfhood.

Written and recorded in her Nashville home, Williams says the album acts as a tangent. “This isn’t really a follow-up to Petals for Armor. If anything, it’s a prequel, or some sort of detour between parts 1 and 2 of Petals,” Williams wrote on Instagram stories the night of her album release. If Petals for Armor gave the world a breadth of emotion and reflection on her journey through loss, family trauma and deep reflection via EMDR therapy, then on Flowers for Vases, Williams has the courage to find herself again amidst the wreckage.

Hayley Williams | Photo credit: Lindsey Byrnes

Daniel James, who has been in Williams’ orbit since writing string arrangements for her band Paramore‘s After Laughter in 2017, engineered and produced the album. Williams played every instrument herself, “not to mention casually being a drum god,” James praised. With a focus on Williams’ untapped folk roots and bass-heavy ballads of loss, the heaviest light shines on elegies such as “Trigger” and “Over Those Hills.” And while the project moves in conversation with the rise of quarantine-recorded folk pop, Flowers for Vases‘ kin is closer to Tegan and Sara than anything else.

From the album’s imagery — Williams in a jacuzzi of murky red water (“def most ridiculous quarantine purchase“), as if stewing in the weight of grief — to her lyrical prowess, Flowers for Vases / descansos calls to mind “The Skeleton Woman,” “The Red Shoes” and “The Handless Maiden” from Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ 1992 book Women Who Run With the Wolves. “Women have died a thousand deaths before they are twenty years old… They have hopes and dreams that have been cut off also,” Estés wrote. “Anyone who says otherwise is still asleep. All that is grist for the mill of the descansos.” Women have been taught to quiet ourselves, to be smaller and to take up less space in a patriarchal world predicated on women ignoring their deepest intuitions. Instead, we should build altars of community and solace. Don’t ask us to be less; we deserve to deepen our calling to wholeness.

On her second solo project, Williams illustrates various mythologies from Estés’ book, but focuses most on the story of the skeleton woman. This folktale is about a woman discarded by her father; she is so detracted of love that only singing flesh back onto her bones and taking the heart (“the mighty drum”) of another brings her back to life. These ideas of amputation, death and rebirth ebb and flow throughout Flowers for Vases: “If you gotta amputate / Don’t give me the tourniquet.” The skeleton woman and Williams merge in shared experiences of codependency, giving all of themselves for relationships that were at times harmful or abusive. “It also felt like such a culmination of all the lessons I’ve learned from multiple relationships that just felt like my own body was eating itself,” Williams told Zane Lowe.

Williams lays with her descansos (or memorials of death) to bring life back into herself, making herself anew. The quick-tempoed “Wait On” speaks to waiting grief and the ways that she’s made herself smaller for a sense of belonging (“There was a bird who never flew / But she still kept all of her feathers / So she could pluck ’em out for you”). The bottom half of the album takes us to the depths of introspection and recollection of trauma, only to bring us to the first pragmatic spot of the record: slow drumming pumps blood back into “Inordinary,” a ballad about Williams and her mother fleeing Meridian, Miss., from her step-father.

In this myth bending, Williams sits face to face with devastating loss. Critical questions of longing and belonging resonate from top bottom, but Williams’ exploration is not for anybody but herself. Even as she muddles through “No Use I Just Do” and “Find Me Here,” both records that feel like internal dialogues on self acceptance, finding grace and becoming resolute about the lessons she must unlearn. Very much like the skeleton woman, Hayley Williams meets herself all over again and enjoys the glimpses of solace as they come. Williams shows the honest grit it takes to get back what you lost before you knew it was gone.

“It’s harder to tell the story of how I convinced myself I didn’t need what was necessary to survive,” CJ Hauser wrote in a sobering essay about the end of a emotionally abusive relationship. “How I convinced myself it was my lack of needs that made me worthy of love.” In no uncertain terms, Flowers for Vases / descansos asks us to reckon with our own forgotten mythologies — that is never easy, kind or gentle. In a world that often requires us to ignore our deepest needs, Hayley Williams does not provide a light at the end of the tunnel or a closed door, but a new body, a new tongue, and possibly a new frame of reference to survive and even thrive.

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Kate Bush, Jay-Z, Tina Turner and Fela Kuti among Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees

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The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced the nominees for its newest class of inductees on Wednesday morning: 16 artists and groups ranging from the reigning monarch of the billionaire boys club, Jay-Z, to the pioneering women of new wave group The Go-Go’s, to the queen of rock and roll herself, Tina Turner.

The 2021 nominees also include Kate Bush, Devo, Foo Fighters, Mary J. Blige, Iron Maiden, Chaka Khan, Fela Kuti, LL Cool J, New York Dolls, Rage Against the Machine, Todd Rundgren and Dionne Warwick.

Kate Bush

In order to be considered eligible, artists or bands must have released their first commercial recording at least 25 years ago. Of this year’s nominees, seven are first-timers on the ballot — some of them acts that came of age in the 1990s, and some legacy artists who have yet to make the Rock Hall’s roster. Foo Fighters and Jay-Z are the only acts to appear on the ballot in their first year of eligibility.

Six nominees are women, a small improvement given the criticism surrounding the 2020 class, for which just two women — three if you count Chaka Khan’s early band, Rufus — were nominated and only one inducted, the late Whitney Houston. Several of this year’s women nominees have already been honored: Carole King was inducted with Gerry Goffin as a non-performer in 1990, and Tina Tuner with Ike Turner in 1991. Currently, women make up around 8% of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees, while an abundance of eligible women — Dolly Parton, Mariah Carey, Grace Jones, Roberta Flack, The Chicks and Kylie Minogue, to name a few — have yet to be nominated.

The 2021 inductees will be announced in May, and the ceremony will take place in Cleveland this fall.

The Complete List Of 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Nominees

  • Mary J. Blige
  • Kate Bush
  • Devo
  • Foo Fighters
  • The Go-Go’s
  • Iron Maiden
  • Jay-Z
  • Chaka Khan
  • Carole King
  • Fela Kuti
  • LL Cool J
  • New York Dolls
  • Rage Against The Machine
  • Todd Rundgren
  • Tina Turner
  • Dionne Warwick
Getty Images Jay-Z | Scott Gries/Getty Images

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

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