Growing up, the members of the Milwaukee hip-hop collective New Age Narcissism always felt like misfits. They never felt they fit within their communities and groups. What they didn’t know was that, in the near future, they'd break away from what they were used to and create their own community in the world of local music.
Local producer Q the Sun and Chris Gilbert were once a part of Fresh Cut Collective. But it eventually faded away, leaving them to look for a new musical outlet.
It wasn’t long until they met local rappers Webster X and Lorde Fred33. The four of them started collaborating, performing around the city and doing what they love: making music.
In the fall of 2014, Webster X's popularity started to build – both locally and even nationally – which created more performance opportunitie and forged more local industry connections with people like Lex Allen. As they made more and more connections, they knew they had to figure out some way to make the collective work.
"In order for it to grow [at that time] we needed to meet up," explained Q the Sun, so they started gathering together every Monday. This went on week after week until January of 2015, when they realized things were starting to come together.
"Things were looking solidified," Q the Sun said. As the collective was growing in 2015, it began picking up more national attention, playing more shows – including opening for Lupe Fiasco – and adding more members, like Siren, to its group of misfits. And as they became more established, they started to officially define themselves as a group.
"It’s about self-love and self-acceptance," Q the Sun said, adding they want to find "acceptance in [ourselves] by seeing [ourselves] in others." He noted that they support each other and build the community, with a mutual hope and vision for making Milwaukee better. All of the members of New Age Narcissism are very involved in their communities, especially with the youth of Milwaukee, in the hopes of making a difference.
That's much of the appeal for this weekend's Rock the Green festival, returning on Saturday, Sept. 17, when New Age Narcissism will headline the pedal-powered stage at 8:45 p.m. The group is exited to reach out to what it hopes is a new audience by performing alongside musicians outside its genre, but the members are also looking forward to joining and moving forward the discussion about sustainability. For them, there isn’t just one environmental issue they focus on, but the bigger picture.
"Our biggest cause is young people," Q the Sun said. "Taking care of the environment is looking out for the future."
The group has done its part living up to what it believes in by joining in on neighborhood clean-ups, as well as trying to conserve and put in more effort not to be wasteful. With the help of Rock the Green, New Age Narcissism hopes to continue its goal of investing time, money and effort back into the community – while creating some terrific music, too.