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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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Dana Coppafeel is hitting a revival after over 10 years in hip-hop.
Dana Coppafeel is hitting a revival after over 10 years in hip-hop.
Coppa is releasing his new EP, "Know  Flight Zone," with producer and fellow KingHellBastard member Reason.
Coppa is releasing his new EP, "Know Flight Zone," with producer and fellow KingHellBastard member Reason.

Milwaukee UP: The re-invention of Dana Coppafeel

Lots of artists dream of accepted re-invention and continued relevance into the perceived dusk of their career. Few people can have that sort of renaissance, but if the recent output of Dana Coppafeel is any indication of what is to come, we could be witnessing the rebirth of Coppa.

The year 2010 saw Dana release his first solo album, "Coppa's Welfare Foods," that was mostly embraced by those who heard it, which led to him clustering together songs that he had been featured on previously for "The Feature," a mixtape that was meant to highlight some of his best guest spots.

Later that year, as a part of his group KingHellBastard, he released the EP "Remember The Name," a project that found both local and national praise and even landed a positive review on Okayplayer.com. Spring boarding off of "Remember The Name," KHB released a tribute to the classic A Tribe Called Quest Album "Midnight Marauders," which also found its way around local and national blogs.

Now that it's 2011, expectations are high for both Coppa and KHB. The Bastards are slated to release a full-length album later this year on Uni.Fi Records, and Coppa is releasing a new EP with the newest Bastard, producer Reason, via Uni.Fi Records this Friday through a party at the Cactus Club that starts at 10 p.m. and will cost $7.

However, it doesn't stop there, as Coppa is finishing up a project with former Miltown Beat Down champion Da Ricanstruckta, in addition to a mixtape that has already seen a music video released for one of its tracks.

What is the reason for this revival of an artist that has never been on the outside of the in-crowd, but whose popularity has ebbed and flowed throughout his 10-plus years of doing hip-hop? The reason itself could be Reason, and a hunger that Coppa hasn't had in a while.

Reason, a fantastic producer that relies heavily on sample-free compositions, has seemed to not only have given KHB a shot in the arm, but has really helped Coppafeel soar to new heights. Coppa has always been a feisty lyricist and personality, and that's why he's always sounded good on golden era/backpack beats, but who knew that he'd weld so well to the new school sound?

I have had around a dozen conversations with Coppa, going back to before his son was born several months ago, and one thing has been evident in every talk – he wants to show that he's at the top of his game and that he deserves his ranking of O.G. and legend.

The new EP, "Know Flight Zone" features a taste of something for everybody and it starts out with a couplet of blazing tracks – "I Know Coppa" and "It's Our Year" – which set a monstrous tone for the rest of the project, possibly even casting a bit of a shadow over the following tracks. What follows is some damn good production by Reason, and some of the best rapping Coppa has done thus far in his career. There is something for everybody on this EP and it is the second most balanced project Coppa has done or been a part of, with "Remember The Name" taking the cake.

If you like hip-hop and you want to see something different in the live setting, Coppa and Reason are going to provide that for you as well. Coppa spoke to me with a tone of excitement about adding live instrumentation to this performance, bringing Reason to the forefront as the equal that he is on the EP, to play his MPC live during the set. Kiran of Fresh Cut Collective will also be in the house to add live keys to the show, and I believe that everybody featured on the EP will be in attendance to deliver their feature. However, I'm not sure about Adebisi as he is in NYC right now and the last time I talked to Coppa, he wasn't sure about some of the others.

With every conversation, Coppa also makes sure to say that he's not sure about how much longer he's going to be doing music, though me and some friends joke that he'll still be hitting stages in his 40s, while looking like he's in his early 20s and sounding like he's in his teens. But honestly, if this recent flurry of output is his inner creativity star reaching its pinnacle of brightness before it explodes – as the old stars of the sky do – and Coppa puts the mic down in the near future, then this next year or two
should be something to be witnessed and actively embraced by the Milwaukee music community and not just its dedicated hip-hop fans.

To get a little flavor of the night and some of the artist's thoughts about the project, Uni.Fi Records has put together a short video for you to enjoy:

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