Local rapper Kid Millions -- better known to some as John Kuester, co-owner of Lotus Land Records in Riverwest -- has just unleashed the record of the Milwaukee summer.
"Victim to the Beat," co-written with Sage Schwarm of Codebreaker, is a fun and breezy retro hip-hop dancefest with a sound that will send you running for your old Sugar Hill Records 12"s -- or at least the first Tom Tom Club CD. In it, Millions even references the classic "Rapper's Delight."
The 7" vinyl single -- with Jason Todd's "X-Files" on the flipside -- is on Ski School Records and is a taster of Kid Millions' next full-length disc, due out in October.
OnMilwaukee.com: Can you tell me a bit about the new record? Is it your first vinyl?
Kid Millions: The new track "Victim To the Beat" is my fourth vinyl release to date. I did a 7-inch and full-length E.P. with the group Minus After in 2003 and a collaborative 7-inch with The Rusty P's back in 2006.
The new single is produced and recorded by Sage Schwarm of Codebreaker. Back in 2005 we worked together on "Catch The Fever" and near the end of the project, I made it clear that he needed to give me some Heet! Finally, about two years later he gave me a disc of scratch Codebreaker instrumentals and now the ball is rolling!
OMC: Having grown up in Brooklyn in the '70s and early '80s, "Victim" really takes me back to that time and place. Is that that kind of hip-hop you love the best? Do you think that kind of "foundation" rap resonates still -- or again?
KM: Well, owning a record store that specializes in hip-hop, disco, funk and more, gives me a wide range of styles to dive into. Mid '90s rap is my personal soft spot in hip-hop but I still love the sounds of Tom Tom Club, Mr. Magic, Grandmaster Flash and all the good stuff!
With the current state of music being so boring, the best thing to do is go back re-create an exciting time and put your twist on it!
OMC: Tell me a bit about the video, which is pretty cool, filmed up on a Walker's Point rooftop. Who directed it? Is it the first you've done?
KM: This is my second video and it's directed by Darren Cole who has been working day and night on perfecting his craft in film. I originally met him about three years ago when he did a short video on Lotus Land Records.
Since then he's been actively working with groups, DJs and bands to gain more experience. I was lucky enough to be the chosen one!
OMC: Do you have strong sales outside Milwaukee, generally speaking? Who is your audience, here and abroad?
KM: Well, currently the "Victim To The Beat" 7-inch has sold about 250 copies online in the past two weeks (as of mid-August) and I'm hoping the song will slowly spread to dance floors worldwide! Right now the records are selling well in Germany and Japan.
I also just licensed the song to funnyordie.com, which is a video site owned by the comedian Will Ferrell.
OMC: That's great. Are you working toward another full-length? Is this from that project or an unrelated one-off single?
KM: Right now I'm finishing up a third full length CD that will come out Oct. 31 for the next spooky Made In Milwaukee event at Turner Hall. This new (as-yet) unnamed release will also have my single "Victim To The Beat" on (it), as well.
"Victim to the Beat" can be purchased locally at Lotus Land Records or online at lotusland.gemm.com.
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 an episode of TV's "Party of Five," 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 can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.