Thursday, April 30, 2009

Three Must-Download Milwaukee Mixtapes

By Evan Rytlewski
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It was only a half a decade ago that keeping up with the latest Milwaukee mixtapes would have required regular trips to the Milwaukee Mall or Teutonia Ave, but these days most any mix worth hearing ends up online for free—and, to be sure, the city's recording plenty of mixes worth hearing these days. The last several weeks alone have seen the release of at least three great mixtapes:

Streetz and Young Deuces - Straight Drop Muzik (download): Save for the sporadic drops, Streetz and Young Deuces' DJ Drama-endorsed Straight Drop Muzik, released this Tuesday, plays more like an album than a mixtape, spotlighting the duo's commercial potential with club-friendly singles like "Everybody Know Me" and "Shawty So Strapped." The emphasis is on overheated, hook-laden crunk—Streetz and Young Deuces' specialty—but the duo's lyricism shines on the string-swept Midwest soul of "All My Life" and on the triple-time raps of "Semi Flow." Though the city is over-saturated with rappers sharing similar dreams of "106 and Park" airplay, none possess Streetz and Young Deuces' polish or professionalism.

UMG - The Leak (download): Short for Umbrella Music Group, UMG is an growing collective of Milwaukee rappers specializing in backpack rap that doesn't fall victim to that genre's traps. There's no gibberish about third eyes or lectures about the five elements, just incredibly lush, Pete Rock/9th Wonder-styled beats, balanced by a Rocafella-like swagger and an unabashed appreciation for the finer things more pandering backpackers purport to reject, be they money, drink or women. Though rapper Prophetic has quickly emerged as the crew's potential break-out, flagging the interest of Pharrell Williams, this song-a-day sampler from late March attests to the depth of talent in the camp.

Haz Solo - Missing: Haz Solo Loosies (download): Haz Solo might have fallen short of his goal of releasing 16 albums and mixtapes in about a year, but there's something to be said for balancing quantity and quality. Just about each mix he uploads is tighter, stronger and more personable than the last, and his newest is no exception. His ear for bold breaks and blunted, jazzy beats remains, but this time around he puts it to work in the service not of odds-and-ends nuggets but tight, focused songs, like "It's Yours," which is among the sternest, most captivating tracks he's ever recorded.

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