If you’ve been blindly stumbling around Milwaukee’s music landscape wondering where to find the most energy, excitement, and ambition, look no further than the city’s hip-hop scene. Spearheaded by the likes of WebsterX and the New Age Narcissism collective, IshDARR, Klassik, Mike Regal, Vincent VanGREAT, and many others, Milwaukee hip-hop has been continually packing local shows and garnering national press. Even more encouraging, it’s a scene dominated by youth, with most of its major players still in their early 20s. Now, the median age of Milwaukee hip-hop stars is set to drop even further with the release of The Influence, the debut EP from 17-year-old KaneTheRapper.
The North Side teenager is one of the co-founders (along with WebsterX and others) of Riverwest’s all-ages Freespace venue, the current hotbed of activity for young Milwaukee hip-hop. The Influence, however, is anything but “hot”: this is a winningly cool and hazy affair, featuring Kane’s chilled-out vocals, laid-back beats, reverb-heavy Radiohead guitars, and somber synth strings. It’s a short but perfectly sequenced EP that gets druggier as it goes (dig the bleary “All The Lean In The World” and the self-explanatory “Codeine Dreamz”), and is peppered with snippets from a Kurt Cobain interview, of all things. Kane may be 17, but his debut collection suggests an artist at least twice his age, and one that will hopefully continue to call the Milwaukee music scene home.