By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
When was the first hip-hop song recorded in Milwaukee? That was the question a team at 88Nine Radio Milwaukee had earlier this year. As 88Nine dived into this journey, the team decided to share the process through a podcast, which explored Milwaukee’s musical history.
The podcast, called “Backspin”, was released earlier this week. The series contains six episodes at 30-minutes each with hosts Tryone Miller and Justin Barney. Miller, a well-known hip-hop expert and DJ, along with Barney, 88Nine’s music director, wanted to explore not only hip-hop on a national level, but hip-hop on a local level as well.
The main focus was to find out who recorded Milwaukee’s first hip-hop song. Through this journey, Miller and Barney interviewed national and local artists, including people who lived through Milwaukee’s hip-hop scene.
“The series is about so much more than the first song,” Miller said in the news release. “It’s about the journey of getting to that song.”
According to the news release, the duo’s research and discoveries went beyond the music. It dived into a moment of history in black America, “in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, through the lens of hip-hop.”
Miller said Milwaukee’s movement was a microcosm of what was happening throughout the country. Music was changing, he said. Black artists were experimenting with new sounds and techniques, which led to new forms of music, he added.
“Hip-hop is more than a genre,” Miller said. “It’s connected everywhere – radio, movies, TV, fashion. It’s in every piece of culture.”
Each episode dives into a different aspect of the journey, on Miller and Barney’s way to finding Milwaukee’s first hip-hop song.
In Episode 1: Setting the Stage, Miller and Barney begin their search with the origins of hip-hop. The team explores why Milwaukee provided a solid foundation for hip-hop in the eighties.
In Episode 2: Milwaukee was Crackin’, the podcast takes a look at Milwaukee’s music culture and its potential to become the next Motown.
In Episode 3: The Majestics Meet Marvell, examines a group of local kids who encounter a business man who convinces them to record a song, which could be Milwaukee’s first hip-hop song.
In Episode 4: Scratch the Record, Miller and Barney take a look at the controversy surrounding Milwaukee’s first hip-hop song. They also have MCs, DJs and musicians weigh in on the matter.
In Episode 5: Arrested Development, Miller and Barney speak with Arrested Development’s Speech. He dives into the impact Milwaukee had on him and how he impacted the city.
In Episode 6: The Friends We Made Along the Way, features the most-anticipated moment: Miller and Barney settle the debate. The hosts along with listeners, finally hear Milwaukee’s first hip-hop song.
“Backspin” the podcast, is now available on all major streaming podcast services and radiomilwaukee.org/backspin.