Chase: “We just played ‘Foundation of a Moment’ by JC Poppe. I really like that track. It speaks to some realities in your life and in music. I know that you went through a bit of a tough time recently. One of the lyrics there says, ‘I could be worse off.’ I like focusing on lyrics. There’s another one that says, ‘It’s so hard to listen to both our heart and our head, so this moment I’m in, I’m just gonna vibe.’ Nice!”
JC Poppe: “Thank you.”
Chase: “I also like how you talk about the art of hip-hop in there, and you say the art is something beautiful but ‘people listen to the radio, where rap is at its worst, and they cut out half the words. They get a steady message of careless life and sex and believe the underground should get lumped in with the rest.’
I’m a teacher and my students listen to that kind of stuff and I listen to more positive, underground stuff, and there is quite a distinction there with the lyrical content.”
JC Poppe: “Oh, I absolutely agree. There really is. I grew up in a household where my parents were completely against hip-hop and rap music. All they heard was vulgarity and they heard these messages of drug dealings, violence, murder, and whatnot. Now, at that time, that was what I was listening to and that was what I was into, a lot of the westcoast gangstas.
If you go back and look at the time period, that wasn’t the only stuff that was around. If you go back and look at all of hip-hop, the stuff that makes it to the radio by and large, that makes it into pop culture, is really vulgar stuff to children’s ears, to a lot of people’s ears.
But, there is always a movement in hip-hop where it isn’t all about vulgarity, or offensive ideas, or manipulating people to accept criminal counter-culture.
I’m a mild-mannered emcee. I live my life and do my thing and when people ask me, ‘What do you do?’ – ‘Well, I’m a stay-at-home father and I rap.’ And they give me this look, like, ‘Oh… you rap,’ and I always have to qualify everything I say with, ‘No, no, no. I don’t rap like that.’
It’s sad that there are so many people in the world that look at rap music as just being this ignorant method of communication, when it is not. It’s a beautiful art that takes a lot of intelligence to put together and just because some people do it in a simple way doesn’t mean that that is par across the board,
When Jay Electronica starts rattling off those complex rhyme schemes, that is not easy. But people think rock music takes more talent because they have to play guitars and sing. Okay, well, show me a rock musician that can rap their butts off and do it well and do it with a message, and if they can just pick it up and do it no problems, then maybe your point I somewhat valid. But I don’t see many people doing it and doing it well.”
Chase: “Exactly, and I think one of the key things that people outside of hip-hop culture fail to realize is that hip-hop didn’t start out as recorded music. It was a culture and we can’t just look at rap music outside of hip-hop culture and understand it. So, I find, like you, I am constantly having to argue and defend my choice of being in this culture and why hip-hop is such an amazing and important thing. People just don’t seem to understand that.”
JC Poppe: “Right. It is a cultural thing. It was born as something that you experience. Back in the late 1970s when the deejays were out in the parks battling over New York and they had the MCs get up there to brag about how dope that DJ was and why that DJ was better than the other DJ. That was an experience. You went out to hear that music that those DJs were spinning to feel a party and feel a rhythm.
Whatever people want to believe, there is so much more. It’s a cultural experience and that is one of the big things we deal with in America – the acceptance of the White rapper with the Black rapper, the Latino rapper, and how can everybody play together and be one movement.
There are some Black rappers that don’t look at white rappers as being valid or they feel that they are stealing art. There are white people that know nothing about the culture of hip-hop or its roots, but they see that it is popular and they like 50 Cent or Lil Wayne, they all of a sudden decide that they are gonna be thug rappers.
There is so much that people are still figuring out in the third decade of hip-hop and it is going to take a little while for it to really all come together, Hopefully one day it will be one united front.”
Chase: “I think it is starting to come together, just because of its age. We can actually now talk about our history and where we have come in these thirty years. There are reunion shows for hip-hop groups now. House of Pain is playing tonight – a 20th anniversary reunion show, and Onyx is coming around again. We have a rich, cultural history in hip-hop and we are starting to celebrate it and get more acceptance, I think anyway.”
JC Poppe: “Yes there is. Slick Rick, Salt N Pepa, Young MC, and a couple others are doing a tour around the country too. We have people that can go out and reminisce about the old days and celebrate. But there is still a struggle going on based on race and cultural perception and why people believe they have to follow certain rules.
For me, who is so into hip-hop, culturally, people still ask me, ‘Why aren’t you into rock music or country or whatever?’ The same thing happens for black people who listen to rock music and not rap music. It is looked at as being different, odd, or weird. And that is what we need to get away from.
Music is just a way to express emotion and ideas, no matter what genre it is under. If we can appreciate it, regardless of skin colour and just focus on the message and the art of it, I think we’d be in a lot better place.”
Chase: “Yeah, me too. I just wrote a very long piece for Word is Bond about that very issue where I contrasted the large white audience and consumer base for hip-hop with the lack of a large white artist base. If you think of successful white rappers, you can only think of a handful of them, if that. You think of Eminem, Vanilla Ice, 3rd Bass, and Beastie Boys and those are the few that have been able to make any kind of noise. Conversely, rock started out with a lot of black musicians and then Elvis came along and it seemed to blanche rock.
I don’t think music should be defined by colour. I think it is ignorant if you go up to a black guy and just assume he listens to rap. I see a lot of people who do that.”
JC Poppe: “It’s exactly what you said. It is ignorant. It is based on the cultural bias that was have towards skin colour that we are brought up with. We are told by media and by a lot of different people who believe that because of out background, we should only fall into these categories. And if you don’t, you are wrong or different.”
Chase: “What I think it hilarious is that I’m an elementary school teacher and as soon as the kids find out that I’m a rapper, they’re like, ‘You don’t look like a rapper. You don’t dress like a rapper.’ And I respond, ‘Well, how’s a rapper dress?’ I mean, it’s just all these stereotypes and I think it is really cool to see you breaking them in your music and in your use of social media.”
JC Poppe: “It’s all a conversation. Some people get it but some people don’t. What it is, is just an active conversation that we are having with people. Cultural beliefs, and ideas, and news travel through places like Twitter and that is how you stay up on things, that’s how you branch out to learn about new things, bounce ideas off of people, talk some smack, and have some fun.
It’s very interesting to see what this social media craze is going to do with communication over the next couple of years based on what it has already done. Some of it may potentially be pretty grim. People are going to get more and more used to talking to people through devices instead of face to face. But at the same time, the world is a lot smaller and communication travels much quicker. So, there are a lot of pluses and negatives.”
Chase: “Definitely. It’s time to spin another track.”
JC Poppe: “We brought up ‘Audio’ before so let’s drop that one”
Chase: “Daddy J will drop that track. This is JC Poppe. The track is called ‘Audio.’ This is Chase March on the interview tip. And we’ll be right back!”
Chase: “That was ‘Audio’ by JC Poppe and we’ve got JC Poppe on the phone. Nice track, man.”
JC Poppe: “Thank you. That was one of my more fun tracks. You gotta throw down a little fun sometimes.”
Chase: “Well, that one reminds me a lot of L.L. Cool J’s ‘Radio.’”
JC Poppe: “Okay.”
Chase: “I guess you haven’t had that comparison before.”
JC Poppe: “I have not heard that. I think ‘Radio’ has what? 5 verses? It’s an extremely long song as far as verse structure, I know that.”
Chase: “Yeah, but he’s like, ‘I gotta have my radio. I’m not going anywhere without my radio,’ that kind of old-school vibe where everyone is walking around with these great big radios. You’re new school because we don’t have the radios anymore, I don’t listen to the radio. I listen to mostly podcasts. I listen to community radio, sometimes, when it is actually on. But nowadays I need my audio more than radio. So that song is kind of a more modern take on it.”
JC Poppe: “Not that everyone has an iPod or an MP3 player but so many people do and that’s what they prefer to use for their audio consumption, I know that I find myself always scrambling to update my iPod with everything. Ya know, I gotta have my audio. And also, the funny thing is, I only where Audio Shoes, the skate brand, so it kind of works 2 in 1. I always gotta have my audio to listen to and I always got to have my Audio Shoes on.”
Chase: “Oh, hey, Daddy J is wearing Audio too right now.”
JC Poppe: “There you go!”
Chase: “How about that? The weird thing is, I am wearing New Balance and I actually skate. Do you skate?”
JC Poppe: “No I don’t. I have absolutely terrible knees. I had reconstructive surgery on one knee a couple years back. I would crumble. I would absolutely just crumble.”
Chase: “Too bad. I love skating. Although I’ve fallen down a few too many times on that thing, I tell ya.”
JC Poppe: “Yeah, well now that I have a kid and I do all this kind of stuff, I’m just trying to keep my body together. No more pins and joints holding my body together, I don’t need any more of that.”
Chase: “You do a lot of things. You’ve started up a blog ‘Milwaukee Up.’ I think you changed the name of it recently?”
JC Poppe: “No, it’s still ‘Milwaukee Up.’ Originally it was a WordPress account and then OnMilwaukee.com, which is Milwaukee’s premiere daily web magazine, contacted me about bringing my blog over. So, I decided the stature they have, the backing that they have, and the consumers would be a great way to expose Milwaukee hip-hop to Milwaukee. Because that’s the funny thing, a lot of people from Milwaukee don’t know anything about their local scene. So I took the blog over there and it’s been doing pretty good over there.”
Chase: “Yeah, I remember I put out a call for guest contributors or something like that and you thought about writing a guest post for mine. And you were having a hard time cutting it down or writing it, and then it never happened, and then you started your own and you put up a lot of interviews on there too. It’s really cool to see, you moving from ‘I’m might write a guest post for you’ to having a solid base of writing on your own site now.”
JC Poppe: “When I wanted to do that for your site, I was fumbling around trying to figure out what to write about. I had no idea. I started writing some stuff down and I didn’t like what I was writing, Some time passed, I dropped the ball on that, but after a couple people encouraged me to speak up about Milwaukee hip-hop, it kind of clicked. I wanted to write about that and give back and get it going. I did and it’s been a pretty good success.
It’s still a local thing. Some people check it out nationally but it’s pretty local and that’s fine. I’m not trying to be some internationally famous blogger. I’m just passing the word on.”
Chase: “Your mission is good and it is tied in to the essence of hip-hop – rep your hood, talk about where you’re from, celebrate, and build a community. It hearkens back to old school DJ parties and it’s cool to see that taken up online now. It is very similar.”
JC Poppe: “I love Milwaukee. I unfortunately don’t live in Milwaukee right now but that area of the world is where my heart and soul is, it’s where I grew up, and I will always consider that my home base and the place I want to get back to. I am so plugged in there anyway, it’s like I never left. So, I gotta represent for that city there because they deserve to be heard. There is so much talent there. It’s crazy that nobody has got on and that nobody has blown up yet.”
Chase: “Well, if you keep putting in the work, I’m sure that it will soon.”
JC Poppe: “My fingers are crossed. I think everybody’s got their fingers crossed.”
Chase: “Definitely. Well, thanks so much for being on the show. And just for people out there that want to find out more, how can they find out more about JC Poppe?”
JC Poppe: “Just go to JCPoppe.com and all my music is there. All the artists that I manage which are AUTOMatic, Raze, The Hollowz are there. And if you are looking for dope hip-hop, those guys are fantastic. Everything you need to know about me is there. And they can hit me up on Twitter. It’s just that simple.”
Chase: “Definitely, you can hit me up on Twitter as well. Let’s have a conversation. Well, anyway, I think we are gonna spin some more of your tracks now. And it’s been a pleasure talking to you.”
JC Poppe: “Thanks so much.”
Chase: “All right. Peace!”