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Shle Berry shoots from the hip on 'Breakdown'

Every week, 88Nine brings you a fresh track from a Milwaukee artist. They send it to us. We post it here. You hear it before everyone else.

For today's premiere, we've got some heat from the silver-tongued Milwaukee rapper Shle Berry. You can stream her new track "Breakdown" and read about it below.

First impressions

There are two sides to Shle Berry: the lover and the fighter. Depending on the track, she's either a suave romantic schooled by classic R&B or a provocateur with the soul of a battle rapper. Her projects have made room for both of those personas, but after emphasizing matters of the heart on her 2018 EP "Parallels," she's promising that her upcoming "Tampons" EP, due May 31, will spotlight her grittier side. And sure enough, "Breakdown" shows just how deep her reserve of aggression runs.

The track casts her fleet flow over a hulking Mike Regal beat, a setting that encourages her to shoot from the hip. She shines a light on the mixed messages that society sends women ("Little girl you've got to dream big, but gotta know your place/We determine order from below the waist"), while celebrating nonconformity ("I'm so glad I chose/Baseball hats and baggy clothes.") She also calls out one of the Milwaukee rap scene's great elephants in the room: "When your shows are always empty, where the f*** you get them plays from?"

Shle Berry/Photo credit: Samer Ghani

In the artist's words

This track is a release of a lot of built up aggression. I was much more risky with my lyrical content and I hope it makes some people uncomfortable. That's really the entire essence of the EP. I hope I talk about things that start conversations, that make people question how they're living their own lives, that inspire people to be authentic and say what's on their mind. We can use adversity as a crutch to feel sorry for ourselves, or we can use it to fuel our endeavors. Either way, whatever ceiling they try to box me under, I'll always break it down.