By JC Poppe Special to Published Oct 02, 2011 at 9:07 AM

Whether it's an area that was struck by a natural disaster, with the weather and environment still working against you, or an area like war-torn Afghanistan or Iraq, being deployed into hostile territory is what our nation's military prepares its troops for.

Out of the chaos that can ensue in such situations, soldiers deal with down time and the things they experience in different ways. A friend of mine that was once a Marine, and honestly had very little down time during his time in Iraq, showed us pictures of him playing guitar when he wasn't on a mission.

Finding a way to keep one's mind right is crucial when in these venues, and local rapper Rontaye "Mayor" Butler used writing music to get him through his time spent overseas.

Recently he released a new album simply called "Mayor" that is quite possibly his best work to date, from song structure to production. The album is not without flaws but they are fewer and further between than previous efforts and when the album soars, it flies high.

I hit Tay with a quick six questions to help fans and newbies alike understand the man known as "Mayor." While you were in Iraq, to what level did music play a part in your ability to relax?

Rontaye Butler: In Iraq, music and pictures were all I had to get me through. Phone conversations were OK but didn't provide the relief I needed because a lot of times people would burden me with their problems or ask for money! But, with pictures and music, I could get to a space in my mind.

OMC: You are soon to be deployed for another international tour. With that on the horizon, how has being in and out of war and war-ravaged areas affected your songwriting process?

RB: Believe it or not I make the best music when I am away. I don't have to stress of day-to-day life. And the pain of being away from my loved ones and having nothing but time to think gives me the ability to get a lot more creative than I usually would. I don't think about who will like this song and won't like that song like I do at home. I just write.

OMC: What is this new album "Mayor" about and how did you get the nickname of Mayor?

RB: The "Mayor" nickname comes from a mixtape I made back when Tom Barrett was running and it stuck from my belief that I am qualified to play a significant role in the city; not the king, not the boss, not even the best, but someone qualified to represent. I touch many sides of the city. Born and raised in the hood on the North Side, related to men involved in the streets, schooled in the suburbs, in the military, industrial civilian occupation, sports, music – I know a very diverse range of people and they all respect me for being real and being who I am. I like the clubs, but I like poetry too. I believe in positivity but I know sometimes you have to protect what's yours. Things happen in life and my contradictions and inconsistencies as a man dealing with the things that happen, is what I speak on in my music. There has to be many more people like me who need a voice. That's what this album is, in a smooth, versatile package. Soul samples, brag rap, street music, vulnerable truth music, even a song dedicated to the mothers of my children, it's all represented.

OMC: What's next for you musically? Is this your swan song?

RB: This was supposed to be my last album. But then I got word I was headed overseas again, this time to Kosovo. So, I can't go out this way. I need more time to craft my signature album, my swan song: "Recall," coming soon.

OMC: Last year you released a song called "Home" that critiques the Milwaukee hip-hop scene, and several of its sides. A year removed from that track, have you seen growth or regression?

RB: The scene is as good as it's been in my opinion. There will always be more hate than love, and still too many small-minded, afraid-to-be-themselves individuals around, but the music that \ has been created lately has been great. Considering the lack of resources we have, for Proph and Pizzle and everyone else to do some of the music they have been doing is remarkable.

OMC: Your UMG family is doing well for itself, building upon its reputation with each release. Where do you fit in, in their growth and overall plan?

RB: I'm happy to be a part of UMG. If Dame Ellzey is the coach, I'm the assistant coach. As an older member of the team I try to share my visions, ideas and thoughts to help out our flagship artist Prophetic as well as Royal Fam. But at the same time, I am a solo artist and my intent and purpose is to tell the Mayor story and introduce my team, MB, to the game. I don't have the resume Dame has nor the accomplishments Proph has, but what I have is a loyal following and a solid catalog of music that qualifies me to know what is hot. I don't need the acclaim or the awards at the end of the day. I hear from a lot of artists in the city on almost a weekly basis, and they tell me I am one of the best in our city. That is enough for me.

Butler's album "Mayor" can be downloaded for free through his Bandcamp page.

JC Poppe Special to

Born in Milwaukee and raised in the Milwaukee suburb of Brown Deer, Concordia University Wisconsin alumnus Poppe has spent the majority of his life in or around the city and county of Milwaukee.

As an advocate of Milwaukee's hip-hop community Poppe began popular local music blog Milwaukee UP in March 2010. Check out the archived entries here.

Though heavy on the hip-hop, Poppe writes about other genres of music and occasionally about food, culture or sports, and is always ready to show his pride in Milwaukee and Wisconsin.