This is Milwaukee Hip-Hop. Dirty and honest, rugged and passionate, individual and committed to what made it great. KingHellBastard represents the culmination of over a decade of accumulated history in the Milwaukee underground hip-hop scene.
Formed by members of previous groups such as The Intel Agents, The Pizdamen and The Rusty P's, the combination of experience serves as the foundation for the continued expansion of KingHellBastard as a respected touring group, as well as a constant connection to the city and the roots that make it all possible. The music combines the funk and immediacy of live instrumentation with the sample-based propulsion of gritty hip-hop and a barrage of swaggering lyricism.
Over the past couple years the members of KHB have independently recorded and released four albums, received extensive regional airplay, toured the country and rocked around 200 shows throughout the Midwest. Some of the major Hip-Hop artists KHB has opened for or have performed with include Common, Wu Tang, Cypress Hill, Q-Tip, RJD2, Ghostface Killah, Souls of Mischeif, Sadat X, Mr. Lif, Akrobatik, RA The Rugged Man, Eyedea and Abilities, Raashan Ahmad, J-Sands, El Da Sensei, Count Bass D, All Natural and many others.
Die-hard Milwaukee hip-hop group KingHellBastard continues to deliver raucous boom bap and potent lyricism on their latest release from Uni.Fi Records. The album comes off a stellar 2009 which saw KHB receive constant airplay on local radio stations 88.9 WYMS and 91.7 WMSE and led to the group winning Artist Of The Year and Video Of The Year in the Radio Milwaukee Awards, a trend which continues in 2010 with 88.9 already adding the first single "I Believe" to their rotation. Building upon years of riotous performances and international collaborations, KHB brings out the heavy artillery on the 8-song record with appearances from Sadat X of the legendary Brand Nubian, Def Jux affiliate Akroabatik, Raashan Ahmad from Crown City Rockers, Stricklin from hip-hop supergroup EMC, and blazing cuts from The White Shadow of Norway. Starting off with a veritable explosion of sonic energy and a thunderous verse from Akrobatik on the song "Clubber Lang", MCs Dana Coppafeel, Shemp, and DNA waste no time heralding their return with steely-eyed conviction over a heart-stopping beat from producer Reason, accented by the nimble bass playing of LMNTlyst and deft scratching of resident DJ OneL. Keeping the intensity high, the record hits a celebratory note with the second track "I Believe" featuring an exuberant verse from crowd rocker Raashan Ahmad over joyous horn blasts and breakneck drums from Reason and a blistering scratch coda from White Shadow. Side A closes with two slices of serious funk, the booming bass of the White Shadow produced "It's The Crew Again" featuring the unmistakable voice of Sadat X, and the certified G-Funk banger "North Coast" featuring a hilarious verse from fellow Milwaukee native Stricklin. With Side A dedicated to showcasing some of the collaborative efforts KHB have generated from constant touring, Side B allows the group to stand on it's own considerable talents with three songs from in-house Uni-Fi producer, The White Russian. First is the kaleidoscopic "PhD" where the MCs weave in and out of the verses as the beat builds up in layers of shifting soundscapes. Next comes the fist-pumping ode to hip-hop's golden age "A Tribe Called Bastard", where each MC references quotables from the past over a beat that could have been at home on a tape deck in 1988 and recalls classics like "Scenario" and "The Choice Is Yours". Lastly comes the heartfelt hometown anthem "Ma'waukee", an introspective look at the blue-collar roots and hardscrabble character of the Midwest set to a soulful and exultant beat that has already proven to be a show-stopper during live performances.
KingHellBasard - "The War Room" LP 12/2011
KingHellBastard - "Remember the Name" EP 8/2010
Dana Coppafeel - "Coppa's Welfare Foods" 1/2010
KHB and Reason - "Ya'll Got Excuses We Got Reason" 5/2009
DNA - "On the Strength" 1/2009
Cups and Bottles - "Marlo" 5/2008
KingHellBastard - "Motherfucker" 5/2007
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Remember the Name Uni.Fi Records: 2010 Score: 80/100 Absorb how terrible the band name is. Took...Remember the Name
Uni.Fi Records: 2010
Absorb how terrible the band name is. Took it in? Good. Because despite KINGHELLBASTARD’s desire for you to Remember the Name, it’s the main thing you’ll want to forget. This good band with the awful name (henceforth referred to as the much less distracting KHB) has just delivered one of the freshest hip-hop albums from the unlikeliest of places – Milwaukee. Evidently, they have cows and rappers. With loads of bass-heavy, neck breaking beats and diverse lyrical styles, KHB storms through a Southern-dominated rap scene with unabashed reverence for the Northeast old school; they carve out a place for themselves as Midwesterners with something interesting to add to the conversation.
Lively beats propel the crew through the swift-moving 8 track release. With energy rivaling hip-hop’s Golden Age, KHB attacks every verse like they’re trying to out-Busta each other. The rhymes are consistently strong, yet on occasion, particularly when there’s a guest rapper in the mix, the core threesome can sound like a rap clan with simply too many voices droning at you, no matter how good they sound. A major assist, though, goes to Milwaukee native Stricklin, featured on “North Coast,” with his always clever rhymes breaking through the pack of emcees. Most times, though, KHB avoids the shadow of its guest stars Sadat X, CoolZey and Raashan Ahmad. It even bounces back from the rare misstep on “PhD” (senseless Eminem territory) with a nice mash-up of A Tribe Called Quest and other hip-hop references sprinkled throughout “A Tribe Called Bastard.” KHB finishes strong with a tribute track to its overlooked hometown, giving hip-hop fans a reason to take a chance on Milwaukee for more than just cheese and beer.
ESM: VITAL REVERB: JANUARY 14, 2011
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KingHellBastard Remember The Name Uni.Fi Records ESM Rating: 9/10 Last week, we took an unexpe...KingHellBastard
Remember The Name
ESM Rating: 9/10
Last week, we took an unexpected trip to Milwaukee, WI, to profile the burgeoning hip-hop scene in this iconic Midwest city. And while Fresh Cut Collective and KingHellBastard share space on Uni-Fi Records’ roster, KHB is quite a bit rawer than their live-instrumentation labelmates, dropping street-wise rhymes, raucous boom-bap beats, and a vast knowledge of hip-hop history that drops in-the-know references like salacious pick-up lines at your local club. In other words, if you’re into straight-up rap that pulls no punches, paying tribute to the past with gritty soul samples while moving the musical genre into fresh 21st-century territory, KHB is your new favorite group.
But don’t mistake KingHellBastard for newcomers on the scene: this underground crew, comprised of MCs Dana Coppafeel, Shemp, and DNA, along with producers Reason and White Shadow, has been rocking Brew City basement mics for over a decade. And although Remember The Name only boasts eight cuts over its 31-minute running time, album opener “Clubber Lang” bursts out of the gates with enough sonic energy to trample heaps of weaker groups. Underground hip-hop icon Akrobatik guests on the fire-breathing track, before “I Believe” attacks your eardrums with bombastic horns, massive drumbeats, and mission-statement verses that establish KHB as top-shelf lyrical players.
After that, the uptempo Golden Age nuggets keep coming, with Brand Nubian pioneer Sadat X guesting on the funk-heavy “It’s The Crew Again” and fellow Milwaukee native Stricklin big-upping KHB’s hometown on the rough-and-ready “North Coast” while hilariously skewering modern hip-hop culture: “Cover your mouth when you rap, not just when you cough/ This Auto-Tune’s really starting to piss me the fuck off/ Pants too tight, belt got diamonds in it/ Some Gucci rapper/ Show how many rhymes is in it/ Taliban scarves, Louis Vuitton man-purses/ So much schwag, but ain’t nobody got no damn verses.” The next four tracks on Remember The Name are all similarly on-point, but those choice words are all you really need to know about just how kick-ass KingHellBastard is; find out for yourself at www.myspace.com/kinghellbastard. Forget New York vs. LA — hip-hop heads need to be paying attention to Milwaukee for the next big thing. By Nick McGregor
Rappers KingHellBastard Get Recognized
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Much like the actual act of rapping, the business of rap music is trickier than it sometimes appears...Much like the actual act of rapping, the business of rap music is trickier than it sometimes appears to outsiders. That’s in part why the attrition rate for rappers is even higher than that of musicians as a whole. Overzealous entrepreneurs begin rapping with unrealistic visions of easy money, but once they realize that big breaks are nearly impossible to come by, they quickly move on.
“A lot of people think they’ll be able to pay their rent and eat and pay their bills off of just hip-hop,” says DNA, one-fourth of the Milwaukee rap crew KingHellBastard. “But the truth is those people are few and far between, and at a local level it’s almost impossible to make a living from rap alone.”
DNA says that for the rappers who stick with it and keep their financial expectations in check, however, there are smaller successes to enjoy. After six years together, doors continue to open for KingHellBastard.
“Every year, we get to experience more cool things than we ever could have planned on,” DNA says. “We played to 5,000 people opening for Cypress Hill at Summerfest this year. We got some recognition from 88Nine, having been chosen for artist of the year and video of the year in their listeners’ choice awards. On Monday night, we sold 30 copies of our record to a store in Germany—I have no idea how that happened. So we never feel stagnant. There are always new cities for us to play on tour that we’ve never been to, and bigger venues around town that keep asking us to play. Just this year, after having played the Rave probably 15 times before, we were on the main stage opening for RJD2. Like probably every music fan in the city, I’ve been going to that venue for as long as I can remember, so to see your group’s name on the marquee out front is really amazing.”
This week KingHellBastard—rappers DNA, Dana Coppafeel and Clark Beez and DJ 1L—release their latest EP, Remember the Name. Showcasing the more party-friendly side of underground hip-hop, it nods to the beat-heavy ’90s output of The Native Tongues and Rawkus Records, and features production from Reason, the White Russian and LMNtlyst, all of who had worked with KingHellBastard on previous projects.
“It’s always been a comfort issue for us,” DNA says of working with familiar faces. “There’s plenty of people who can make dope beats, but not a lot of people that I want to sit in a studio with for hours and hours on end, since we like to have a good time. Nobody who has ever been in the studio with us has ever left sober. I remember when Reason came over to work with us for the first time; he came with a bottle of Crown Royal and a couple of bottles of Coke, and I thought, ‘I can work with this guy.’”
The band struck up similar camaraderie with the guest rappers featured on the EP: Brand Nubian’s Sadat X, underground icon Akrobatik and Oakland’s Raashan Ahmad, as well as Milwaukee’s Stricklin—all artists the group has met through touring or booking local shows.
“We didn’t want to make tracks with people that we just contacted through the Internet, paying them for a verse through PayPal without even sitting in the studio with them,” DNA says. “I see so many albums that play up the names of all these big guests featured on them, and I’m like, ‘Man, I know for a fact you don’t know this rapper, and that you’ve never even hung out with him.’ It’s inauthentic. We want to work with people we know. We’re not into hiring mercenaries.”
Backed by the live band Fly Neurotic (whose members also make up Fresh Cut Collective), KingHellBastard plays a release show at Mad Planet on Saturday, Aug. 21, at 9 p.m. with Raashan Ahmad. The show will also be a video shoot for the song “I Believe,” and the $10 cover will include a vinyl copy of the Remember the Name EP.
CD Reviews: Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs, Secret Colours, King Hell Bastard
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King Hell Bastard Remember the Name Uni-Fi Records Packing Milwaukee-centric lyrics into a bunc...King Hell Bastard
Remember the Name
Packing Milwaukee-centric lyrics into a bunch of posse cuts, King Hell Bastard's new album delivers a solid, fast-paced, straight-through listen that's uncluttered by skits, rants and over-the-top ego.
The theme of Brew City love runs through the entire album, particularly on the scratch-sampled track "Ma'waukee," where the emcees describe their hangouts and upbringing within the blue-collar city.
Other tracks, such as the varied beat production of "PhD (with Reakt 20)" and the synthesized "North Coast (w/ Stricklin)," find the emcees showing their lyrical teeth in attempts to out-do each other.
Full of guest appearances, other standout tracks on the battle rap-heavy EP include the driving "Clubber Lang (with Akrobatic)," "I Believe (with Raashan Ahmad) and the catchy though dated "It's the Crew Again (with Sadat X)."
KHB will perform at an album release party at 10 p.m. Saturday at Mad Planet, 533 E. Center St. Cover is $10 and includes a vinyl copy of the EP.
- Steven Potter, Special to the Journal Sentinel
Awards celebrate Milwaukee music
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Here are the winners of the third annual Milwaukee Music Awards, announced Thursday evening on air b...Here are the winners of the third annual Milwaukee Music Awards, announced Thursday evening on air by the sponsoring radio station, WYMS-FM (88.9), also known as RadioMilwaukee.
Winners were selected by the staff of the radio station in 10 categories; the other six awards were chosen via an online vote.
Album of the year: "Recession Proof Rap," Kid Millions
Song: "The Sword," The Championship
Vocalist: Jeanna Salzer
Urban artist: Prophetic
Best new artist: Pezzettino
TNT Award: (Artist Most Likely to Blow Up): Will Phalen & the Stereo Addicts
Power Pop Tart: "Yer A Blur," The Reckless Hearts
Earwig Award (Catchiest Song): "Continental Drift," the Subcontinentals
414 Music Award (In-Studio Performance of the Year): The Vega Star
Best CD Artwork: "Middle West," Will Phalen & the Stereo Addicts
Listener choice categories
Most Memorable Live Show: The Championship at Turner Hall Ballroom (Halloween party)
Milwaukee's Best DJ Night: The Get Down
Best music video: "Danger," KHB
Blog of the Year: Music in Revolt
Saturday Session Set of the Year: The Glamour
Your Guide to the Week Ahead | KHB releases EP
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Life is good for local hip-hop group KingHellBastard. In early 2009, the collective won artist and v...Life is good for local hip-hop group KingHellBastard. In early 2009, the collective won artist and video of the year at RadioMilwaukee's annual awards show. In July, the foursome of MCs Dana Coppafeel, Shemp, DNA and DJ 1L opened for Cypress Hill at Summerfest.
They'll celebrate their new eight-song vinyl EP, "Remember the Name," at an album-release party at 10 p.m. Saturday at Mad Planet, 533 E. Center St. The event will double as a video shoot for lead single "I Believe," featuring Oakland native Raashan Ahmad.
Cover is $10 , which includes a copy of the album.
- Geraud Blanks, Special to the Journal Sentinel
Remember The Name
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ew Milwaukee rap groups match KingHellBastard’s burning desire to assert a dominating presence in th...ew Milwaukee rap groups match KingHellBastard’s burning desire to assert a dominating presence in the city and beyond. At its best, the group’s latest EP, Remember The Name, justifies that desire with proudly traditionalist basement jams that find MCs DNA, Dana Coppafeel, and Shemp good-naturedly passing the mic to a bevy of underground hip-hop luminaries, including Brand Nubian’s Sadat X, eMC’s Stricklin, and Boston rapper Akrobatik. But while Remember The Name reaches beyond Milwaukee for guest stars, KHB is still very much centered on home and putting it on the map.
At times, Remember The Name is practically a Milwaukee hip-hop pep rally, particularly on well-intentioned but stridently boosterish tracks like “Ma’waukee” and “North Coast,” where Stricklin takes shots at cringingly easy targets like Soulja Boy and other “radio rappers.” Remember The Name fares better when KHB and its supporting cast ditch the corny digs at forgettable flashes in the pan and get down to the business of showing (rather than telling) what they’re capable of. Producer The White Russian whips up a heady, endlessly funky backing track for a thrilling, machine-gun-spitting verse from guest star Reakt on the boisterous highlight “PhD,” while Reason provides a soulful backdrop of splashy horns and punchy backbeats for “I Believe,” which features a cameo by Raashan Ahmad of Crown City Rockers.
Like the rest of Remember The Time, these songs eschew anything and everything that’s happened in hip-hop since 1993. (In case it wasn’t already obvious, KHB makes its Tribe Called Quest worship explicit on “A Tribe Called Bastard.”) With its eyes permanently affixed toward the past, Remember The Name won’t turn KHB into dreaded radio rappers, but it certainly would’ve been welcomed by Dre and Ed Lover on Yo! MTV Raps back in the day.
KingHellBastard celebrates the release of Remember The Name with a release show Saturday at Mad Planet.
press, press, press
KingHellBastard releases new album "The War Room" (free download)
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King Hell Bastard is back! Wait, they really never left because they are always putting out tracks. ...King Hell Bastard is back! Wait, they really never left because they are always putting out tracks. But now finally released their new album The War Room. Since it's free and dope, yeah free and dope, I don't know why you are still reading this and not downloading it.
Still running off the national attention from their last EP Remember The Name, KHB comes through with just as much energy, style and flow on War Room. The album features local veterans A-Biz, Elle Rassberry, Pezzetino and Evan Christian. That one dude from Slaughterhouse, Joell Ortiz, is on the lead single Commercial Free, but no big deal. If that isn't enough, you gotta listen to the interludes. If you know Dana, you know he can talk. And KHB always comes with dope production, this time thanks to Reason, White Russian and White Shadow. Giving the producers their own interlude, I'm down with that. Shoutout to 1L and Buttatooth on the cuts.
When they joined me on the Mad Kids Radio show last Tuesday and previewed a few tracks I knew the album was gonna knock. Look, it's dope. There is a reason why they've been on of the top groups in Milwaukee for so long. Get it. No more talking or reading. Just listen.
KingHellBastard opens the doors on "The War Room"
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There is a mock Latin phrase that states "illegitimi non carborundum" or "don't let the bastards gri...There is a mock Latin phrase that states "illegitimi non carborundum" or "don't let the bastards grind you down," which is the sentiment of the unofficial Harvard fight song. This is exactly what the Milwaukee hip-hop group KingHellBastard hopes to do – but in a good way – with their music.
For the last several years the group that's also known simply as KHB has done their part to create gritty, underground hip-hop while touring when they can, something that has led them to several different states across the country. Often lumped into the "college rap" pot, KingHellBastard is much more a group made up of '90s hip-hop diehards that seek to embody and embolden the culture they love so dearly.
That love is so deep that it also manifests itself in a jaded manner as they look back over their personal run-ins with harsh criticisms and critiques from people they feel are unjustified.
KHB members DNA, Dana Coppa, Shemp, Reason and White Russian discussed the making of their new album, "The War Room," and where this latest effort leaves them.
OnMilwaukee.com: After releasing projects like "Remember The Name" and the ATCQ mixtape, which are on the lighter side of KHB's spectrum, "The War Room" is noticeably angrier and darker. What led to the attitude strewn throughout the new project?
DNA: I would say that it's a result of the cumulative pressures of being an active group for over seven years. That's a long time to be engaged in any enterprise. When you start out it's all fun, because everything you do is new and exciting. As time goes on you find yourself in the same situations, having the same conversations with the same people, and it just wears you down. At least it does for me, personally. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, so yeah, underground hip-hop can definitely make you go nuts and start to resent the very culture you love. Add that to the fact that we seem to live in a world where the truth is consistently perverted and whored out for the sake of petty, ego-driven agendas and soon it feels like you're just drowning in assh*les and their endless bullsh*t parade. That's all on a macro level and it's hard to put your finger on precisely what's making you so angry.
On a micro level, there were a number of potshots being fired in our direction during the recording of the album and that sh*t ends up bleeding into the lyrics and the overall tone of an album. The title of the album refers to that feeling of being under fire. Honestly, I don't feel like it's all that dark. It could have been much, much bleaker. Dark days we're living in, you know?
Shemp: You know if you go back and listen to the first KHB album it's grim as all hell, pun intended. This is our second album and (it's) exactly what we expected from it. I don't think it's that gully. We got some heartfelt stuff on this album, we got some new sounds, we kind of really got open artistically on this project. It's a really good listen.
OMC: You guys had been working on "The War Room" for quite a long time and it was supposed to come out awhile back. What led to the delay?
DNA: Well, the eight songs that made up the "Remember The Name" EP were originally supposed to be on "The War Room" but when we looked at the final track listing it just seemed overloaded with guest appearances. I've never liked albums that do that, since it seems to disrupt any continuity of voice that builds over the course of an album. An album needs a vibe, but an EP can exist as just a collection of songs, so we put all the features on the vinyl. In the interim we toured the East Coast and Midwest behind that record, tried to push it as hard as we could, then came back and recorded a new crop of songs to finish the full-length album.
Dana Coppa: A lot of songs that are on "The War Room" were recorded around the same time as "Remember The Name." As DNA said, we didn't want to put out an album featuring a bunch of rappers. Around this time we were hell-bent on doing some vinyl – well, I was hell-bent. We were just going to put out the singles off "The War Room" at that time on vinyl because we thought some of those features would do good overseas and help get our music out there in other countries. Then Kid Millions dropped some advice on us saying that basically a traditional vinyl single would be a waste of money and that it would probably be in our best interest to do a vinyl EP. So, we changed up our game plan behind his advice.
After tour we came back home and recorded like five or six tracks to fill the void that was left on "The War Room." Also, the ATCB mixtape happened too. We felt like we should put out something to kind of keep the people's interest until we dropped "The War Room," which was meant to drop a few months after the mixtape. So now here we are, a little over a year later.
OMC: "Remember The Name" was your most cohesive project as a group. Where do you feel you are as a group on "The War Room?"
DNA: That's funny you say that right after I get done talking about how EPs don't need to be as cohesive as full-length albums. Anyways, I feel like we're in a good place as a group right now. This album is probably the most democratic project we've ever put out, by which I mean that Dana, Shemp and myself all brought different elements to every song, whether it be a hook, a concept, a beat idea, etc. Everything was very collaborative as opposed to us all coming in with pre-written material and seeing what fits where. We're all pretty different personalities so that could also be part of the reason why this one took a bit longer.
Dana Coppa: Technically, "The War Room" and "Remember The Name" were meant to be one project, so to speak. I really felt in tune with the crew on this one. I think this our best work and the most cohesive project ever. Everybody really put a lot in to this project. Shemp is on production and doing cuts, 1L was on point following the ATCB mixtape and we really tried to tap into our unique skills besides just being rappers. The thing I liked about this project is that we just didn't show up with our pre-written raps, throw them together and call it a song. I mean we were voting on concepts, helping each other out on verses to try to make the song more cohesive with themes. Even down to the art work was a crew affair – my first official photography credit!
Shemp: I feel we are on the cusp of something great. I guess I've always felt that way. I feel like we are a stone's throw away from creative genius or the loony bin. "Remember The Name" was basically a side project that stemmed from creating this album. Dana is a workaholic when it comes to the rap game and he pushes us constantly as artists to step up our game.
OMC: You added producers Reason and The White Russian to the group, but in the background. What does it mean to have producers like them on board with you guys?
DNA: It means we get dope sh*t and we don't have deal with people who don't know us. I mean, we collaborate with a lot of people and it's all love but I've always been proud that KHB has maintained a crew mentality. More than a crew even, it's a family. Dima (The White Russian) and Reason have both been down with us for some time.
Dana Coppa: It's great to be honest. They are both great producers by themselves and they have a great vibe when working with each other as well. It's definitely a plus for us since they are pretty much the soundscape for our world. I'm in the studio at least once a week with these guys so they are like brothers to me. It's just crazy that they are so different but yet so focused on the same thing. They are down to earth with no egos at all. I mean even while we were arranging "The War Room" they were helping each other with the beat breaks on tracks they didn't even produce. Nothing but a family thing over here.
Reason: The process for White Russian and I was to create as many beats as possible and add them to the pot. Doing that gave them more to choose from during the sessions to start with ideas. From just building "songs" based off ideas we all had. Even after vocals were laid we were still adding to the beat, re-laying drums, breaks and all. We probably started out with 60+ "war room" beats before recording started. Even after that we were still creating.
OMC: What was the best part of making this album and what was the worst?
DNA: The best? Probably getting to sit and drink while watching Evan Christian play guitar in the studio for the track "Have You Scene Her." That guy has wizard fingers. He's magic. The worst? All the wolf tickets I sold online telling everyone the album was coming out, then having to keep repeating myself for damn near a year when it took longer than expected.
Dana Coppa: The best part is, wow, so many! Getting Joell Ortiz on a track, seeing Evan rip that guitar to shreds, being able to record a week after throat surgery, the countless Wednesday night sessions filled with gonzo consumption. Oh how I miss those. Everything about making this project is the best part as far as I'm concerned. The only bad thing was the wait to put it out. Other than that it was some of my greatest memories. I just want to thank Elle Razberry, Pezzetino, the LMNtlyst, White Shadow, A-Biz, Evan Christian and Joell Ortiz for making it so memorable.
Shemp: There was no worst part, except for maybe the wait for it to release, as DNA mentioned. The best part? Sh*t, where to start? Working with such talented artists, you can only expect good things. Getting Joell Ortiz on a track was pretty dope. Having Evan Christian lay some ridiculous guitar riffs was pretty hot. Getting together and working on good music with good people on a weekly basis was the highlight of my life for a good part of the year. It was an enjoyable year creating this album and I feel like we did what we set out to do – make a dope album.
White Russian: I think the best part of the process – and not just this album but the projects prior – was the consistent meetings – at least once if not twice a week – to keep pushing the ever-developing songs, concepts and ideas. It became a sort of a job/school-like feel that kept us consistent and relevant on our own level. Even though the meetings were filled with sh*t talk and sometimes getting sh*t faced, we really did become family where no one's voice went unheard and no comment was too crazy. With each meeting there was always a new mix-down or a new beat to take home and review before the next session, even if not everyone could make it every time.
OMC: What's next for the Bastards?
White Russian: What I see now for the Bastards is a few things. The group as a whole will stay relevant by working on songs/projects individually, getting the sounds out that they feel without having to wait on four to five other people to make the idea complete. As a group, I think this is the time where they fall back on the oh-so-many prior works and really concentrate on performing as KHB and individually everywhere else but Milwaukee. This city is stale, and time waits for no one. What we want is to find our audience, and for this we need many more shows in front of many more new people. It's getting more and more difficult with families – KHBabies – and jobs, but that's what it will take so there is no doubt in my mind that that's what we'll do.
Reason: Keep making hot sh*t!
KHB's newest effort, an album called "The War Room," is available for free via local Uni.Fi Records through KHB's new website. Uni.Fi Records will also release limited edition physical copies for the collector.
Sound Check | Inside local music KHB members give fans an unfiltered view of their music
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Since its debut in 2005, there have been as many as 10 members of Milwaukee hip-hop crew KHB. Curren...Since its debut in 2005, there have been as many as 10 members of Milwaukee hip-hop crew KHB. Currently consisting of emcees Dana Coppa, Shemp, DNA, turntabilist DJ OneL and producers White Russian and Reason, the collective fashioned itself as a Midwest version of another large crew out of Staten Island.
"The group kind of formed as a halfway house for wayward MCs and producers who didn't have a home," says DNA. "We wanted to form this free-floating collective a la Wu-Tang and just blow people's minds with a variety of styles and voices."
Six years and five albums later, KHB has become much more than a home for itinerant rappers. The six-man crew has toured the country, opening for Cypress Hill and Wu-Tang Clan, and after the success of its last project, the 2010 EP "Remember the Name," the group can now boast album sales in locales as far away as Germany and Japan.
"'Remember the Name' helped us get out, even overseas," says Dana Coppa.
The group has just released a new project "War Room," available as a free download on its website, kinghellbastard.com.
Despite its bellicose title, the 15-track album is the group's most introspective work to date.
"We wanted to give people an in-depth look into how we feel and where the music came from," says Coppa. "Letting people glimpse into how we think, to give them an unfiltered view."
With a video for single "Who Gon Care" currently in production and an album release party on Jan. 28, KHB is in the beginning stages of promoting their new project to a local and hopefully national audience.
"We've got shows lined up from Minneapolis to Baltimore," says Coppa. "Spot dates in places where we have a good following and can push our music to them."
DNA and White Russian answered our questions.
Sell yourself in 30 words or less: (DNA) Organically-grown, free-range hip-hop from the soil of Milwaukee. Zero pesticides, courtesy of Uni-Fi Farms.
Biggest achievement: (DNA) In terms of actual awards, I guess winning video of the year for "Danger" and the Listener's Poll artist of the year award in the same year from 88.9 Radio Milwaukee was pretty cool. (White Russian) Getting onto the CMJ charts, getting reviewed by Okayplayer and pressing vinyl and selling it to Germany and Japan.
Song you're most proud of: (DNA) Either "Danger" for its conceptual cohesiveness or "Ma'waukee" for its hometown pride.
Song you play to get the party started: (DNA) Probably "A Tribe Called Bastard" or "88."
What's missing in Milwaukee's music scene? (White Russian) A supportive and consistent audience.
Where do you want to be in five years? (DNA) Playing festivals in Europe, Japan, places that actually buy our records. At home, though, we'll continue to put out quality material, put on interesting shows with artists who might otherwise skip Milwaukee altogether and help to maintain Uni-Fi Records as a viable outlet for underground/local hip-hop.
Why do you do this? (DNA) It's cheaper than therapy. If we didn't direct it onto a stage or a record, we would be the derelicts on the corner shouting nonsense at pedestrians.
Upcoming gigs: Album release party 10 p.m. Jan. 28 at Mad Planet, 533 E. Center St. $10 cover includes CD. Ages 21 and older.
- Geraud Blanks,
Special to the Journal Sentinel
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There are no upcoming dates at this time.