Milwaukee rapper JC Poppe had a big 2009, releasing his debut CD, "Sleep Therapy" -- which got its name from Poppe's sleep apnea -- and landing national distribution for his Brew City hip-hop compilation "Yo! MKE Raps." In December he inked a label deal and his second disc is ready for release in a couple months. We caught up with him to talk about Poppe -- past, present and future.
OnMilwaukee: Tell us a bit about yourself.
JC Poppe: I'm a Milwaukee native and a hip-hop artist that is tied to the Milwaukee scene. I released an album in 2009 that had some national features on it and it was pretty well received.
Recently I put together a Milwaukee hip-hop compilation called "Yo! MKE Raps" that features 19 tracks by some of the best known and unknown artists in the city. I am currently working on my second album and it is being released by HiPNOTT Records out of Miami.
OMC: The first one was "Sleep Therapy," right?
JCP: It came out in 2009 and features guest verses from Guilty Simspon, Naledge of Kidz in the Hall, and two beats by good friend of Kanye West, 88-Keys. It also has guest verses from Milwaukee artists Raze, SPEAK Easy and Dana Coppafeel, as well as production by Raze, Dylan Thomas, Jank One and Da Ricanstruckta.
It's been featured on several prominent blogs and Web sites -- Okayplayer, Kevinnottingham.com, Potholesinmyblog, to name a few. The entire album was recorded and mastered by Raze for Dreamscale Multimedia.
OMC: Why the compilation?
JCP: I love the Milwaukee hip-hop scene and I feel that it's warming up to a boil right now and has the real potential to spill over into the national scene.
To help that along, as well as maybe introduce people in Milwaukee to a scene they may not know about, I undertook the task of collecting songs from as many artists as I could to compile them for what would become "Yo! MKE Raps."
Based on the strength of the compilation I was able to hook HipHopDX, one of the premier hip-hop sites out there, to sponsor and exclusively release the project.
OMC: How did you hook up with HiPNOTT?
JCP: About a month after I did my local release of "Sleep Therapy" I hit the Internet hard, sending out hundreds of e-mails to different blogs, companies, newspapers, etc., and I was very persistent in a professional way, of course.
In October, I finally was able to get the attention Kevin Nottingham of kevinnottingham.com and he liked my music enough to want to feature it as album of the day on his site.
He started asking me about what I was going to do for my next release and that opened up the door for him to start talking about HiPNOTT with me.
Over the next month we went back and forth talking about different aspects of the business side while the contract was written, and I signed the papers on Dec. 5. He is a guy that's really all about the artist and their vision, which is something that I think every artist is looking for and it was an opportunity that I honestly couldn't pass up.
OMC: Tell us about the upcoming album.
JCP: The new album that I've been working on is called "Tea Party." I know that's not a very hip-hop sounding title, but it sums up the sentiment of the project quite well. It's based off that revolutionary act of defiance known as the Boston Tea Party.
2009 was a very packed year for me; I had some successes and some huge personal tragedies, so this is my chance to talk about that. There has also been a lot of stuff going on in the world and our country for the past decade and the regime has changed, but it seems like so many politicians and people are up to the same old tricks.
We wanted change, we have a president that shoots for the stars, and we have a congress that is as stale and unmoving as ever. Something is wrong with that.
OMC: When can we expect "Tea Party"?
JCP: The new album is slated for a second quarter release and features production from underground national stars like 88-Keys, Khrysis (Justus League) and Double 0 of Kidz in the Hall.
It also has a guest verse from Justus League vet Chaundon as well a verse from Milwaukee legend Dana Coppafeel and several guest verses from Milwaukee up-and-comer SPEAK Easy. Milwaukee producers Reason and Dave Derrilykt have beats on the album, as well as HiPNOTT in-house producers G.C. and Danny Diggs.
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.