Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The search for Milwaukee's first hip-hop song: Arrested Development

Ways To Subscribe
A man wearing glasses and colorful bracelets on both wrists smiles broadly with his eyes closed tight.
Speech from legendary rap group Arrested Development.

With hip-hop celebrating its 50-year anniversary, we thought this was the perfect time to re-air all six episodes of Backspin — our search for the city's first hip-hop song, led by 88Nine’s former music director Justin Barney and Tyrone Miller, aka DJ Bizzon.

For the fifth episode of the podcast, Justin and Tyrone took things in a slightly different direction. Maybe not a total detour, but definitely a departure from The Majestics, Marvell Love, "Class A" and "Attack on the Wax."

Narrowing down the field to identify Milwaukee's first hip-hop song took a handful of episodes. We investigated, interviewed, analyzed and debated. If you missed those parts of the story, you can catch up using any of the links below. But, whether you've followed the entire journey or are just joining us now, our guest for this one is required listening when talking about Milwaukee's hip-hop history.

As Tyrone says at the top of the episode, "Every single person that we talked to — the MCs, the DJs, the producers — every single person mentioned Speech. ... And it was not just, 'OK, I rapped with him' or 'He produced a song for me.' He influenced them by being such a great guy in the community, or they knew him, they worked with him, they met with him, they just knew where he lived. He was just around."

Born Todd Thomas, Speech was — as Justin puts it — the one who got out. He grew up in Milwaukee and landed in Atlanta, where he founded the critically lauded and Grammy-winning Arrested Development. This episode is all his, giving him the room to decide whether to embrace his association with "Milwaukee's first hip-hop song," as well as reflect on his growth as an artist and the creation of a true hip-hop culture in the city.

'Backspin' episode guide

Audio Storyteller / 88Nine On-Air Talent | Radio Milwaukee