By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Feb 17, 2005 at 5:27 AM

{image1}Most artists won't want to hear this, but it takes more than musicians to create a vibrant scene. It certainly takes fans, too. And it takes people who can help introduce musicians to music fans. That's where a group like Gorilla Promo comes in.

Founded by a trio of young entrepreneurs, who call themselves Gideon, Langston and Fidel (don't ask for more, it's all part of the image), Gorilla Promo maintains Gorillapromo.com, which has information about local hip-hop artists, and also provides services to those artists; everything from photography and graphic design to street promotions and media and marketing consultation and event coordination.

According to Fidel, Gorilla germinated over time from the fairly modest original idea of throwing parties, gigs and spoken word slams.

"We are agents of change," he says. "We are very influential on the hip-hop scene, booking shows, promoting other artists and creating situations such as 'Limelite,' where local and even regional artists can collaborate and create their own buzz, but we also serve everyone from small start-up businesses, to national corporate companies."

"Limelite" is an effort to make a film about Milwaukee's hip-hop scene and there will be a related event at UW-Milwaukee on Friday, Feb. 18.

"All the participants have created their own niche and represent a wide diversity and everything that's positive in true hip-hop culture. We offer the DVD which will be accompanied by a mix CD as a marketing and money-making tool for the participating artists."

But this is just one of many projects that Gorilla is working on at the moment, says Fidel.

There is a young organization called True Skool. "We work primarily with youth organizations, schools, community centers and anyone interested in creating positive social change for our communities," says Fidel.

There's "Summer of Peace," an annual citywide youth rally with block parties, too. And there's an ongoing coat, hat and book drive. Gorilla is involved in ringtones and cell phone wallpapers and is developing a clothing line, too.

And, as you might expect, there are a lot of irons in the musical fire.

Gorilla promotes weekly club nights featuring reggae, hip-hop, salsa and other styles at venues like Treats on Humboldt and Passion on East Washington Street. They also do work with Armagideon, G. Murray (of Taste Emcees) and Baby Drew. A second installment of their compilation CD "The Collective" is also out.

Clearly, Gorilla has no shortage of ideas or energy, and it's that energy that ensures success in the business of hyping the work of local musicians.

"Our Street Team reaches areas in and around Milwaukee, Chicago, Madison, St. Louis, Phoenix and Las Vegas. We have an extensive database of venues, businesses and events," says Fidel. "We hit up all of the hottest spots and make sure that flyers, posters, CDs or other promotional items get in the hands of all the right people."

Gorilla Promo's Web site is gorillapromo.com.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

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.