On Saturday, May 28, the Cactus Club will host an event intended to celebrate and heal the Milwaukee hip-hop scene, which for years has suffered a dispute between members of two powerhouse production groups, UMG and the now-defunct House of M.
Milwaukee acts AUTOMatic, Prophetic, Raze and Yo-Dot will share the stage at what's being billed as the "Bury the Hatchet Show," in order to demonstrate the spirit of play and collaboration that once symbolized Milwaukee hip-hop.
"This is a unified event, with no openers or closers, just a line-up of great emcees," says JC Poppe, an OnMilwaukee.com contributor who will host the show with Axtra, manager of Milwaukee's UMG (Umbrella Music Group).
Poppe managed House of M in 2010. He is currently manager and member of the Milwaukee music production group No Half Steppin' Crew, which includes two "Bury the Hatchet" performers and former House of M artists.
After House of M folded in late 2010, three of its artists, A.P.R.I.M.E., Trellmatic (who together comprise AUTOMatic) and Raze had long since been done with the dispute between the groups and wanted to move on. Poppe believed the UMG artists were also tired of it and contacted Axtra with the idea for the "Bury the Hatchet Show."
It turns out the UMG members were ready, and Axtra and Poppe moved forward with plans for the show.
The source of the complaints between these artists is unclear. According to Poppe, there wasn't a lot of diss songs being traded, where many hip-hop "beefs" traditionally play out. Threats were exchanged between some members and two had a hatred for each other that was well-known to those in the hip-hop community.
"The disappointing part is that the issues didn't necessarily involve all people on one side or the other directly (of everyone in House of M and UMG), but because they were part of the crew it seemed like problems were created. I mean, people like Prophetic and A.P.R.I.M.E weren't out there trying to beef with anyone. Those two artists have always been more about the music," says Poppe.
It has been over a year since artists from House of M and UMG have performed on the same stage. "The last time they did, it was a very uncomfortable event," Poppe says.
Regardless of the past issues, Poppe says the beefing has become "stale and almost cliche" and that the artists involved in the May 28th show are moving past it.
"The scope of what was House of M and UMG embodied the next generation of hip-hop artists from the East Side of Milwaukee. They were talented groups that represented Milwaukee well and could've been the future torch bearers. When the beef between the two sides exploded, it made things very uncomfortable and far less collaborative than it had been.
"The main goal of this event is to end the unrest publicly -- and I envision a high energy event – you are getting some of the best local talent that have a national pedigree," says Poppe.