By Tanya Cromartie-Twaddle   Published Feb 18, 2005 at 5:13 AM

{image1} In an industry where underground hip-hop messengers rarely see the light of the mainstream day, Armagideon, underground emcee, filmmaker, graphic artist and activist, knows how to command his share of fame. Feb. 18 marks the release of his latest mixed CD/video "Blow" and his filming of the hip-hop community's highly anticipated Lime Lite concert for a DVD he is directing to document Milwaukee's growing hip-hop scene.

His sound is described as revolutionary, street and grimy.

With tracks like "Stay Alive" from his 2002 Shine EP and "This World Gone Kill Me," from the 2004 release of "The Collective Vol. 2" from The Analyst, Armagideon pushes messages of empowerment, endurance and radical change.

The 24-year-old emcee has opened for Erykah Badu, Black Eyed Peas, Whodini, KRS One, Dead Prez and Common Sense. The filmmaker has created short ethnographic documentaries in Cuba, Peru and Jamaica. The activist has organized several initiatives in Milwaukee's inner city.

We caught up with the artist who's managed to stay alive as an emcee with a message in a game where bling is boss and murder music rules.

OMC: Other than rap, what artists have influenced your style?

Armagideon: I am a b-boy first, and break dance as an art got me at an early age. Jazz musicians like Coltrane and Donald Byrd, rock/blues musicians like Bill Withers, Buddy Miles, Jimi Hendrix, real storytellers.

Even more so than artists, revolutionaries like Che, Fidel, Huey Newton, Angela Davis, Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey and modern day revolutionaries, Alex Jones, Khalid Muhammad, Mumia...

OMC: You must have some amount of mainstream crossover aspirations. How do you stay conscious and underground, but financially satiated?

Armagideon: Paid or not, if you catch me performing or recording it's for the love. I make music for my people's stories to be told, not fame or mainstream crossover appeal. If an artist takes his passion for hip-hop serious he will grasp the business aspect as well as the creative process. Balancing the two is the gift and curse of a serious underground emcee.

OMC: Have Milwaukee stations shown you love?

Armagideon: Love they got! Airplay? Minimal. Don't need 'em though. I got Gorilla (Promotions) love.

OMC: How is Milwaukee's hip-hop scene?

Armagideon: Opportunity is what you make it, but there is a serious racist attitude from local nightclubs in regards to hip hop music in general, but you have to remember that we come from a culture of people that would plug into city electricity in local parks to start a block party. A culture that never needed anything but a crowd to be expressive.

OMC: How have you managed to get love and support from diverse crowds?

Armagideon: In America, to most, I am a black male. For Armagideon, I am of mixed blood, of Mestizo-Mexicano Indian, African and other ancestry. But hip-hop eliminates those labels. The energy and versatility I bring makes my music accepted by so many different people. Also the fact that I don't use words like "nigga," "ho" and "bitch" ignorantly. Nobody likes being cursed out from stage by some no-name rapper.

OMC: What do you do when you're not rapping or filming?

Armagideon: I manage my businesses, Queens of Paradise modeling team and Gorilla Promotions, hang with my goddaughters, break bread with area hustlers and businessmen.

OMC: When do you say it's time to pull it in?

Armagideon: I've been rapping since I was 12. I'm just getting started. When my heart is no longer in making music for the masses then I'll make music for myself. Hip-hop will always be a serious part of my life.

Armagideon performs as part of the free Lime Lite Concert at UWM's Wisconsin Room, Friday, Feb. 18 at 8 p.m. Also on the bill are Black Elephant, Rusty P's, a live art demo and gallery by J. Bird, a fashion show by Sho' Time Wild Image and DJ Swan and Madhatter on the turtables. The event will be filmed by Gorilla Promotions for an upcoming DVD/CD project.