Brady Street Festival came and went. Summerfest is long gone. Mexican Fiesta is on the horizon (August 25-27), with many banda and cumbia acts sure to fill the stages, as well as many Latine hip hop acts looking to pass the mic, ready to spit verses specific to the Latine lifestyle, eager to bring the noise. These acts come from all over the United States, but there is a homegrown scene right here in Milwaukee, made of community organizers, poets, and firebrands from the barrio, and they’re ready to make themselves known.

One of these performers is Sypher Lady X, and I recently caught up with her after her recent Brady Street Festival performance.

“Performing at Brady Street Festival was great for me personally, as it had been a few years since I performed at a main stage as big as the Bud Light Stage with so many people from all over Milwaukee supporting,” she says. “The crowd was amazing and seeing my family come to support as well as good friends and artists was a great experience.

“Usually the bands that play are some I’ve never heard of, or a sound that I’m not surrounded by often,” she continues, “so I was glad to see fellow hip hop artists representing, such as Klassik, and artists like Kia Rap Princess in the crowd supporting. I also had a young artist, Jonah Denae, open the set for me as she is on her path to her own career in hip hop. Sharing that stage with her was something I felt was important to demonstrate the culture, and to see it represented so beautifully was amazing.”

Because hip hop tends to be a male-dominated genre, women have always had to fight to stand out. Sypher Lady X has been no stranger to this. “As a Latina growing up undocumented, powerful representation wasn’t at the forefront in hip hop for me, so I had to create my own opportunities and search for other women who also broke barriers and pushed the boundaries of being recognized as leaders and creatives with a determination to thrive despite the obstacles,” she says. “Seeing people who look like us in positions of power is a necessary reminder to all of us to be our authentic selves in any space we step in. We truly do have the power to create our own opportunities.”

Browns Crew, who have been at the forefront in Milwaukee for a long time with their special brand of funk-laden rap, have also begun to branch out, with El Sebas and Cristo Paz doing solo projects. Cristo has taken on a sort of self-proclaimed “R&Beach” sound that showcases smooth, sultry sounds with rapping laced within the beats. It is something that might sound like the slowed-down offerings that come from artists like J Balvin or Bad Bunny, but with that unique Milwaukee flow.

The local music scene has always had its focus on bands that have solidified their names in the annals of cult music history, bands that have always had the D.I.Y. spirit that can only come from a working class city like Milwaukee. Die Kreuzen, Violent Femmes, Coo Coo Cal, and now the Latine hip hop scene. The people who populate this movement are politically and culturally aware, and are organizing.

Sypher concludes: “I believe at the core all hip hop has deep roots and was pioneered by African American artists, although there were Latine pioneers as well. I think it is often infused with sounds and instruments native to different countries like Mexico or Peru, as I know many artists worldwide in South and Central America who create hip hop in Spanish, and there is a distinct sound that differs from trap, old school, jazz rap, or gangsta rap, etc. At the core, however, hip hop is felt by all of us when the bass or beat of the drums drops.”

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About The Author

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Juan Miguel Martinez is a writer from the south side of Milwaukee. He only writes until he can land a role as the mechanic friend of the handsome lead in a telenovela. His favorite movie is Repo Man.