Backspin Podcast Digs into Milwaukee’s First Hip-Hop Recordings



Burning curiosity about who recorded Milwaukee’s first hip-hop song led the 88Nine Radio Milwaukee (88.9 FM) team down a path that started with a 1980s’ movement, through hip-hop icons such as Speech of Arrested Development, Darryl McDaniels of RUN-DMC, and Milwaukee DJs and MCs – and ultimately to finding that elusive, first hip-hop record.

In Backspin, 88Nine’s new podcast series (released on July 15, 2019), hip-hop expert and DJ Tyrone Miller (DJ Bizzon) teams up with 88Nine’s Music Director (and resident omnivorous music nerd) Justin Barney on a quest to definitively answer the question – who exactly recorded Milwaukee’s first hip-hop song, and how did Milwaukee create a hip-hop scene.

In six, 30-minute episodes, the pair document their months-long quest with interviews from national and local artists, DJs and historians who witnessed the birth of Milwaukee hip-hop firsthand – and of course, with lots of music. Along the way, the podcast provides an insightful view into Black America in the late ’70s and early ’80s through the lens of hip-hop.

“The series is about so much more than the first song,” Miller said. “It’s about the journey of getting to that song.”

Miller said that the birth of Milwaukee’s hip-hop movement is a microcosm of what was also happening around the country. Music was fundamentally changing. Nationally, Black artists were experimenting with new sounds and techniques, creating an entirely unique form of musical expression. As disco morphed into something else entirely, a musical and cultural phenomenon was underway, leading to what we now call hip-hop. And it was more than music. It was a movement – both musically and culturally, he said.

Backspin is a fun journey of discovery and celebration of hip-hop, a tale that takes several surprising twists. The podcast is full of great music, fascinating stories and the voices of musicians and others who were deeply embedded in Milwaukee’s emerging scene. From MCs, to DJs, to radio personalities, to historians, to the original recording artists themselves, 88Nine pieces together a nearly forgotten musical story, both unique to Milwaukee and emblematic of the national hip-hop movement.


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