Milwaukee rapper extraordinaire Melissa Czarnik -- props to her for eschewing some lame moniker and instead doing her family proud -- has been fruitful in recent years.
Her third record in three straight years, "Raspberry Jesus," follow's 2008's "Strawberry Cadillac" and "Local Live with Eric Mire Band" from last year.
As ever, the 18 tracks blur genres. There's always a thumping beat and Czarnik's poetic rhymes, but the rest of it will keep you guessing.
The record opens with the acoustic guitar-laden "Artista" and other tracks are built on pianos, saxophones and other "organic" instruments.
"Been This Way" has an affected vocal sample that sounds like a church choir soloist. "Stay High" sounds like it could be the foundation for a fantasy song cycle and "Bad Rep" uses a recurring gypsyish acoustic guitar figure.
Others, like "Hand Me the Mic" and "Say Goodbye" are rooted in modern R&B. "Canned Nutrition" has the kind of acoustic guitar fueled soul jazz sound that Sade has used to great effect.
A lot of the variety certainly derives from Czarnik's openness to collaboration and here she hosts guests as diverse as Kings Go Forth's Eric Jacobson, hip-hop producer Dylan Thomas, gospel music director Maurice Cotton, R&B singer Patrice Downey and, once again, producer, writer and guitarist Eric Mire.
Czarnik launches "Raspberry Jesus" on Saturday, July 31 at 10 p.m. at Stonefly Brewery, 735 E. Center St. Eric Mire Band will provide live musical support.
A $10 cover includes a copy of the new CD.
Also on the bill are Him & Her, Ms. Cream and the Eric Mire Band. There will also be a display of Midwestern themed photographs and drawings by Dominic and Erica Heisdorf.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.