4.19.2013

More than just rapping: The voice of the revolution and the spirit of resistance in #HipHop

by Ashahed M. Muhammad

(FinalCall.com) - Milwaukee, Wisconsin is probably not the first place you think of when mentioning places you would expect to see a vibrant Hip-Hop scene.

There is a down to earth rugged sensibility that permeates the culture, similar to what you find in Chicago, its neighbor 90 miles south. In Milwaukee, now dubbed “Killwaukee” the scourge of drugs and crime grips areas largely inhabited by Blacks and Latinos. Because of its proximity, many of the most powerful Chicago-based street organizations have also established deep roots there, as well as many of the Black Nationalist activist organizations. Tension runs high between police and its Black and Latino residents, and residents have poor opinions of their political leaders.

There are always those who go to war against darkness and corruption, speaking truth to power and giving a voice to the oppressed. The people know them, and you just have to know where to find them. This time, I found Viva Fidel at Will Allen’s Growing Power Deli and Food Market located fittingly on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, which runs through the heart of the Black community.

Of course, with a name like Viva Fidel, there has to be a story behind it, so I asked him about it. “I was born with the name Fidel—I was named after Fidel Castro and so Viva Fidel was just something that was always said in my household since I was little so it stuck … once I dropped a mix tape called Viva Fidel people just started calling me that. My mother is actually Black and my father is Mexican and Irish and a lot of other things and so I kind of can weave through a lot of different worlds because of that,” said Fidel.

His parents were largely responsible for his love of music. Listening to greats like Stevie Wonder and Bob Marley, provided him with many audio soundscapes to draw from. He says as long as he can remember, he has been immersed in the culture of Hip-Hop, and because of Milwaukee’s central location, there are a lot of different musical influences present. It would not be uncommon to hear an eclectic mix of musical styles from all regions blasting out of speakers of cars driving throughout the area. There’s also a heavy spoken word community. [READ MORE]