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Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009

JC Poppe’s Truth Movement

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In Milwaukee’s East Side and Riverwest rap scene, where soulful beats and laid-back grooves are the norm, rapper JC Poppe is a bit more aggressive than his peers—not rap-rock aggressive, per se (though that’s a style he would like to explore, if it weren’t so stigmatized), but he raps with the pointed indignation of Brother Ali, Sage Francis and Chuck D.

The target of most of his anger is rap culture itself.

“I consider myself part of the truth movement,” he says. “In rap, there’s this idea that everybody has all this money and is, ‘Sell all these guns and all these drugs.’ I’m part of a movement that says, ‘That’s not true, prove it. Stop lying, and start getting back to the roots of what this music was all about.’”

Poppe sees deception everywhere in the genre, from rappers who script their freestyles to producers who overcharge for chintzy beats to mixtapes that steal more material than they create.

“For these mixtapes, people will just steal instrumentals off the Internet by famous producers like DJ Premier or Pete Rock or whoever’s hot on the streets, or they do a ‘remix’ where they take a song that’s already made and just throw their verse at the end of it,” he vents. “That’s not making music, that’s just lying. It’s a cheap shot.”

Poppe vents his frustrations on his new album Sleep Therapy, which features guest spots from 88-Keys, Guilty Simpson and Naledge of Kidz in the Hall, as well as Milwaukee rappers Dana Coppafeel, Speak Easy and Raze.

“The title has a dual meaning,” he explains. “I suffer from a sleeping condition that has me up at all hours of the night, so it’s a personal reference, as well as a reference to the state of rap music. There’s this emphasis on the commercial product, whatever can sell the most ringtones and whatever can be merchandised. That didn’t sit well with me, so I envisioned Sleep Therapy as an album I could make that would make me feel better about hip-hop music at the end of the day. I was hoping for it to be a momentary pause from our ears being inundated by commercial music.”

Poppe, not one to bite his tongue, has mostly kind words for Milwaukee. The city’s rap scene, he says, is perhaps as strong as it’s ever been.

“The competition in the city is great, so rappers are really making a more concentrated effort to put out strong albums,” he says. “In the past couple months we’ve had albums from Panic, House of M, Sose and myself, if I can speak confidently about having mine included in that bunch. I think those albums have really established a good bar. I know Dylan Thomas and Haz Solo are about to come out with their album, and that should take it to another level, and Umbrella Music Group is releasing a lot of stuff this winter, and that should also take it to another level. There’s a lot of competition in this city now that’s good and healthy, and it’s really pushing people.”

JC Poppe’s Sleep Therapy is available at CDBaby.com.

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