The Rap Music, The Aqua, Etc.

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged. I’ve attempted and even dreamt about getting back on it … Then I got distracted by The Aquarium duties, lover-woman duties, mental duties and Playstation non-duties. Duties galore.

But I'm back in action now ...

I’m working on some new solo jams. I have performances on November 27 at Junkyard and December 8 at The Aquarium w/ Ana Sia … 

Not to mention December 3 at The Aquarium … I’m performing with with Kipp G. We’re calling ourselves Group Hugz and we’re opening for Milo, a marvelous Milwaukee-based underground rapper.

Whoever you are reading this, I hope you make it to one or two or all of the shows (if you’re crazy enough).

The Thrills are not scheduled til January as of now. Stay tuned!

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This past September (+ October 7) I went on my very first tour. (Yes, I know — First!) I traveled to 12 cities, including Chicago, Madison, Minneapolis, La Crosse, Rochester, Duluth and other regional cities. I was gone for a total of two weeks, traveling in a 4-door sedan with my friend Ryan Tetzloff and new friend Manny Phesto. I performed as a solo artist using beatboxing, a loop pedal and a synth to make beats for me to rap and sing over.

My material was well received. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Blah, blah, blah... 

On tour I came to see firsthand how incredibly competitive the hip-hop community is. In this day and age, “belonging” is not about so much about race, looks or gender as it is about ability and bravery. 

Most of us just value hip-hop as popular entertainment to escape to. But it's so much more than that. It's authentic art. It’s rebellion. It’s counter culture. It’s a test of rhythmic skill and clever wordplay. It’s one big “fuck you” to the status quo and another big “fuck you” to perfectionism and traditionalism. 

Most fans of the genre know hip-hop is littered with trash talk, ego-centrism and unconscionable talent flaunting. This is far from an overstatement. Rappers, similar to comedians, seek thrill and satisfaction in testing how far they can get away with acts extravagance and offensiveness. It serves as a perfect way to distance themselves between people they view as cowards or derivatives. (Of course, this is not to say all hip-hop artists are creative and daring.)

How do I fit in with all this? I’m not sure exactly. I just know hip-hop as an art form is extremely attractive to me. Listening to it and performing it makes me feel strong, tough and beautiful. I’m certainly not like other rappers in terms of blatant offensiveness. But I am like other rappers in that I reject cultural norms. 

Here are some random photos from tour:

I’ve been working as the director/promoter of The Aquarium for over a year now.  I could write all day about my experiences… But for now I’ll leave it at this:

A live performance is special because it’s the only way people can experience music from all ends -- sights, sounds, aura, smells, etc… Headphones and Spotify are for day to day. Live shows are for magical transcendence ... for the audience and the performers. Heck, we have shows all year. Come out sometime!

My favorites? I have so many. Jeff Rosenstock — He EXPLODED from the seams on stage with musical energy. Lil’ Debbie — The 100-pound women head-banged and trash talked harder than damn near ever performer this year. Parker Millsap — Wow, what a freakishly incredible voice. Moon Hooch — I had never experienced watching musicians break though such barriers of performance stamina. Jens Lekman — His softness and sensitivity translated to songwriting grandiosity. Omni — Instrumental weave patterns like I’ve never heard before between three people.  Pinegrove — Heart-wrenching lyrics paired with delicious yearny vocals for DAYS AND DAYS. Real Dom — He epitomized raw, uncut beauty.

There's more I'm missing ... More later!

Diane Miller