Listen to new Milwaukee rap from 54 Baby Trey, Solowke, BHG Shay, Lil Saucy, Chicken Boyz and more
Several months ago a lot of us were predicting this could be the biggest summer ever for Milwaukee rap. We weren't wrong. Lakeyah cemented her ascent, becoming Milwaukee's first XXL Freshman and its first big-ticket export since Coo Coo Cal. Her profile continues to rise by the day. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee street scene continues to bask in its newfound spotlight, with many of the scene's veterans putting out some of their strongest singles yet.
If you haven't been keeping up with the scene this summer, here's a taste of what you've been missing.
54 Baby Trey - New Flow
Between his dark subject matter and his battered voice -- a sandpaper and charcoal rasp -- 54 Baby Trey makes some of the grimmest music in the city. Some of his recent tracks have been so bleak and violent that they've bordered on horrorcore. They're not for everyone, to say the least, but on his recent single "New Flow" he lets a little light into his sound. Over a bright soul flip, he rhymes about his upbringing with a mix of nostalgia and remorse. It's the closest he's come to his own "Juicy," and although it isn't quite as celebratory as Biggie's '90s classic (this is 54 Baby Trey we're talking about), it's one of the most accessible songs he's ever written.
FBE Savage and Kash - "Good Day"
Man I love happy rap. The irrepressible scammer-buddy duo Fbe Savage and Fbe Kash have a blast celebrating life's pleasures on this one, which is accompanied by a fittingly cheerful victory filmed on the RiverWalk (it even opens with a shot of the Edelweiss).
Solowke - "Milwaukee"
No, it's not your imagination. The Bucks have loomed larger than usual over Milwaukee rap this summer, for obvious reasons. Solowke dropped this one right after the team sealed its historic championship. He stops short of turning it into a full-on Bucks anthem, but it's a perfect song for savoring the city's big moment.
Lil Saucy - "Time is Money"
His sound many owe as much to Atlanta as Milwaukee, but Lil Saucy is one of the city's most tuneful melodic rappers, and his songs seem to get stickier by the month. The hook on this one hits like a dart. "Time is money, watch how I'mma spend it," he raps, "Keep my money sloppy, I don't rubber band it."
BHG Shay & 54 Baby Trey - "Big Steppers"
A certified slapper. Earlier I was writing about how 54 Baby Trey, for all his commitment to his persona, isn't afraid to break form when a song calls for it, and this one calls for it. Playing off of Shay's poised presence, he drops a rowdy, effusive verse. You can literally see how much he's enjoying cutting lose -- just watch him jump around for the camera like a kid crashing a TV news crew's live broadcast.
Adena Renee - "Bluffin' Go! Freestyle"
Everything about this one snaps, from Adena Renee's taut flow to the bell-ringing beat. Simple as it is, the video is a kick, too. I keep picturing players showing up to that tennis court the next day and wondering where all those sticky champagne stains came from.
Chicken Boyz - "Milwaukee Buckz"
We'll save the weirdest one for last. This one is so lo-fi that it's downright avant-garde: Chicken Boyz spit topsy, free-association bars over a clipped, distorted beat that sounds like it could have been sampled from Dewey Gill's Sunday morning Big Band Program. The track is so harsh I can't even listen to it on nice speakers, but at the right volume, and when I'm in the right mood, it sounds like the coolest thing I've heard in weeks.
Looking for more Milwaukee rap coverage?
We’ve got you. This spring we shared the oral history of “Teach U How 2 Jack,” one of the city’s biggest club hits of the ’10s, and discussed why this is shaping up to be a landmark summer for Milwaukee rap. We also shared the excellent new WebsterX single, interviewed The Oshi and Mudy, and wrote about Lil Aaron Japan, the return of 54 Baby Trey, the new Browns Crew track, Puerto Wiccan's latest banger and NilexNile's vibey new single.