Coming with the rough and rugged, our next New Artist Spotlight (although he’s not really new) is the Midwest Bully, Ox. Ox brings that old school rawness backed with soulful vibes and melodic beats. Don’t get it twisted though, this isn’t soft music, it’s good old fashioned hip hop for the hip hop heads. Ox brings his lyrical prowess and creates songs that a multitude of people can relate to. He has the straight up boom bap, the stop and think about it type of joints and even what some might call “emo” in nature, in which Ox discusses the trials and tribulations that is his life. Real topics for real folks.
Not one to be short with his answers, Ox discusses his love for hip hop, his new albums that he has in the chambers, including one with WYDU’s favorite producer/contributor in the form of one DJ SoulClap and the on going debate on MCs vs Rappers. Dive into the mind of Ox and go for a ride.
WYDU: What’s good man? Why don’t you kick the knowledge and let everyone know who you are and some of your background.
Ox: Now that this record is done I am great man. Can complain but won’t…. life is good but I am seeking a better one on the strength of this rap shit. My beast tag (MC Name) is Ox aka The Midwest Machine aka The MidwestBully and currently The Midwest Municipal. My government name is Julian. I was born in Madison, WI which is a small ass city about 45 minutes away from Milwaukee. This is a city of bars, bar fights, and the UW, nothing to exciting to brag about. Trying to make it out of here actually. I love home, but my distribution deal I am seeking hasn’t arrived yet so I am off to find it.
As far as my introspective background is concerned, it’s music based period!!! I have been brought up on music since I was born. My momma used to have every soul/R&B record out and I listened to em all…all the time. I started making mixtapes off the radio when I was like 4 or 5. I still love the soul records I grew up listening to, its my core. I wouldn’t be a 1/3 of who I am in any aspect without those records. When rap came along man…..phewwwww it was over, I FELL IN LOVE INSTANTLY!!!! From the pioneers to the new school (some say new fools) I devoured it all front to end. I used to do the rapping in front of the mirror thing…LOL. Hmmm a range would be like everyone from Rakim/Slick Rick/Kane/G Rap to Crooked Eye (everyone else in between) that’s dope has kept my neck snapping back and forth. Tupac and Illmatic changed my life. I was, am, and always will be a fan first when it comes to Hip Hop. I grew up a listener and evolved into an MC after beating some dude from Cali with dreads freestyling in high school. I only started smelling myself after my peoples were like WTF? You should keep doing that shit…so I did!
W: You have multiple releases, can you go over each project that you’ve released and give the low down on those?
Ox: Hmmmmm. OK. I have a few to my credit. My 1st release was called “The Album” in 03’/04’ and it was a totally new experience for me. I was battle rapper slash freestyle fanatic but was great at writing. Writing a 16 bar verse to a beat and the recording process was a lil well new to ya boy….lol. I am very proud of that record for teaching me what to do and not to do as a recording, ambitious, serious MC. Me and my boy (Black who did 95% of the beats) recorded it in my efficiency. Jinx (who produced Karma for Lloyd Banks) did a track as well. I let a heavy metal guy mix it and it came back different (new sounds and what not). Black was pissed, I was eager to put it out, so I dropped it. I did my 1st CD release party and everything for it and sold all 500 copies lol. When I look back on that album now, it was a great record that no one will probably ever hear. I don’t even have a copy myself!
My 2nd release was an unreleased album called “From the Ground Up”. Most of those joints ended up on my 3rd official release entitled “The Syllabus”. The Syllabus was supposed to be my 1st official album and jump off to put me out there. The writing and recording process started off braggadocios and lyrical and ended up dark and depressing! My pops (who I had no relationship with) passed in the middle of the makings of it and I was dealing with that and crooked “family” over money and…..well I fell in a dark place *NOTE* peep my track Fatherless Child. I questioned everyone around me at that point. I was drinking into a severely depressed blackout nightly and contemplated suicide every other day. That was the darkest period of my entire life. I was able to see who was who-with friends and family which resulted into a very few being one or both. I wanted to die but didn’t have the balls to do it….thank god. If you listen to The Syllabus I talked about all that…My pops death, the suicide, and the fake people in my life…all of that made the album. I got my 1st article review in The Isthmus (local newspaper) which gave me very high reviews.
Moving on, my fourth release was “The Day Before Tomorrow” which has the worse album cover of all time…lol!! It was a continuation
of that dark place and drinking (I drink a lot) and ended up sounding bigger production wise with some of the same topic issues. Fake people, drinking, I am leaving the city, etc. “Be a Father To Your Child” and some others on the other hand were very introspective, original, and are still my faves today. It was growth period! I moved to NY soon after recording it and ended up coming home a month or so later. That added to my re-occurring depression so I stopped promoting it and started in on Life Support.
Life Support was my last year release and an album that I am going to re-issue along with my 4 new projects by the beginning of next year. Life Support was a statement point blank. I was trying to tell the listener that I am good at what I do it and I plan on making it if my life depended on it. I brought in some new producers and it has that 90’ s talented fearless flow with current issues and beats. I have a lot of stuff on there that has a soulful melody behind it man. It’s an album (I Feel) you can rock all the way through! You and Me, The Hustle, That’s the Police, and a few others (shit the whole album really) got me to where I am today because I was going to quit this rap shit 4 reals. I just wrapped Death of a Salesman, waiting for that to get mixed down as we speak.
W: You have seemingly improved with each album, how do you feel about where you are at now as far as an MC and where you started?
Ox: Thanks!! I am by no means where I want to be at all right now but I have a plan and material to get me there. I feel really, really good where I am at creatively. I started off rhyming about anything and over any type of beat to now where I am not only trying to ride the beats I am blessed with but I am trying to make every song somebody’s favorite. That’s a standard goal for me. Sure its damn near impossible, but it keeps me striving to reach in and get the best possible out of myself!! I have worked very hard from the beginning so you know hard work always pays off. Don’t get me wrong each album (beginning to now) I have done I find flaws and those should’ve, could’ve, but didn’t’s. I am my own biggest critic and enemy. I use to fight my own natural talent at times and I am no longer doing that. I am trying to have fun and make the listeners mouth drop at the same time. My writing has gotten pretty fierce so not only can I have a prosperous Ox movement, but for a certain amount of dough I can bring Ja Rule back (lol), no pun intended! Hence, I am working overtime at 199% to get what’s mine. Also eliminating the depression that trapped me for a few years, boozing everyday, horrible friends/family members, and the obvious haters energy I am able to do me now more than ever…I’m focused maaaaaaaaaaan!
W: You mentioned your new album, Death of a Salesmen is due to drop shortly, what can the listeners expect from it? What kind of concepts will be present on the album?
Ox: Man first off the beats are banging!! Shouts to Man Mantis, DLO, SoulClap, 4th Eye, Luv Jones, and Waxx….They came thru in the clutch. Hmmmm the concepts are an ensemble of tracks that I wrote to murder the “Salesman” or the gimmick rapper’s paycheck. I can do what they do but without dumbing it down. I am so disgusted by the trash that’s out there that’s getting play & paid. In sports the best athlete gets the best pay and playing time, why is music sooooo ass backwards??!! I am not the best by any means but I can play ball with the best of ‘em, you smell me? So with Death of a Salesman I just went in without an agenda and wrote what the beat told me to write. “I Am Legend” is my favorite because it speaks directly to my peers out here and audience. I am not just another one of these “rappers” out here (in my surrounding area) so stand the fuck up and support. I am an alumni over here so the people need not get that confused, PERIOD!!! Serious, ride rough or roll over is my motto! There is “Throwin Salt” that addresses my haters. “1st Gun”, well the title says it all. Umm what else “Microphone Fiend”, “Inspiration”, “I’m Back”, “Celebration”, there is something for everyone man. Quality shit as usual, real talk! I cant wait to get it out there to the masses. Shout’s to my man Cole Eggen for coming up with an ill ass concept for the cover and knocking it out for me, I cant thank you enough man! The album will look like it sounds, fresh to Death!
W: There is mention of a “mystery” release on the horizon as well, care to shed any light on that?
Ox: Ha ha!!!! You already know man! Working with Mr. DJ SoulClap on a whole album project. We were thinking of naming it Bridging the Gap but he squashed that title so we are thinking of somethin else “crazy” as he puts it. Shouts to you my man for linking me up with him. I had set out with one goal and now have some other prosperous ones thanks to you and this glorious blog fam! With the 2 of us at it (both being heavyweights and all) it’s going to be a 100% Hip Hop without any industry pressure. This album is for the heads, if you got a good ear your gonna love the shit! SoulClap is still getting the beats together and once I get em I am going to do some pure Hip Hop essence type shit! That should be up and ready to drop sooner than later, hopefully early 09. SoulClap where you at? Shouts to him to man, he is family already and I just met him, kind of like my lil’ bad ass brother who’s funny as shit and super talented all in one!! I hope to get over to Europe and tour with him soon after the album’s completed.
W: That’s my man, SoulClap. What’s the difference between a rapper and a MC in your mind?
Ox: There are too many rappers and not enough MC’s. A rapper is that guy that saw a video or heard a song or 2 and decides that he can do it too. He has no idea what the culture is or the history of it, and doesn’t care to find out. He’s just rapping. An MC loves the art form knows the history and embraces the culture. A rapper will look, sound, and act like someone else in a heartbeat to get money or to be seen, a gimmick. An MC has self respect for them self and will always b
e who they are throughout their career regardless of the amenities they might or might not receive, a reality. If you look at it like food MC’s are prime cut steaks and rappers are the ready to fry beef patties that come in a 12pk. at the grocery store. One has substance (The MC) and the other is as deep as the side of a nickel. I respect MC’s and pay no mind to rappers. I am an MC, Young Pistol Starter is a rapper. I didn’t want to name names but there are a million of em.
W: Coming from an area that isn’t exactly known for it’s hip hop, how is the “struggle” to get your name out there? How is the hip hop community in your area?
Ox: Whaaaaaaaaat A struggle maaaaaan lets call that shit an impossibility Trav! It’s hard as hell man, harder than diamonds to get on out here! I went out to New York and the few contacts I spoke to, I did waaaay more explaining about where I was from, then who I was and about! The biggest building here is the capitol. There are no labels, reps, managers, or bridges out extending to “the game” so to speak. I love my home I have to stress that but out here you have just as many rappers as there are listeners. There is a lot of hating and mugging out here, which makes no sense cause we pretty much all grew up together, its crazy!! There is a lot of talented producers and a few MC’s here like myself that are trying to make it out. The city is full of fun and bars, we drink like fish out here plus the UW is our major social output. You would have a blast if you come here and visited, stayed for awhile, but wouldn’t mind going back home. The people from here are more than likely bored right now because we have done everything there is to do a million times over.
As far as the scene is concerned it should be a cash cow for someone like me (being from here & knowing everyone) but it aint! There are plenty of people (shit the majority) listening to Hip Hop here in the cars, bars, etc. but getting them to support something local is absurd! Unless you make it elsewhere (get on TV, produce a track for a big name, know someone famous, etc.) people want your shit for free and MIGHT come to your show. I love the city but I gotta go and grab another 15,000,000 ears to listen to me, LOL. Just hooked up with Ron Dayne (UW Heisman Trophy yard rushing record holder) to try and get the Ox movement in motion so I might be out of here sooner than later. He is talking to a Houston Texas legend (The godfather) now trying to set it up, so I might be acquainted with one of the games greatest soon and that shit just baffles me!!!!!
W: A lot of cats say that hip hop is on its deathbed, what is your thoughts on the current state of hip hop?
Ox: It’s definitely on life support…ha ha. Seriously though man it isn’t about talent no more. I think it will either be forever tarnished or will re-invent itself to bring itself back to the golden age it once was. I miss the game man. I have heavy hopes that Hip Hop and its listeners will get tired of bullshit and jump on some of this really good shit you got out here. There is just as many great MC’s out here on an international scale than there has always been. It’s just that you don’t hear from em cause the industry has garbage flooding and cramming all media outlets. There is sooooo much talent out here that can sell and write, why aren’t we getting signed? It is to me the most mind boggling thing about Hip Hop. Fuck it I don’t mind being indie at all man. I have full control of my life, music, and my agenda. I know that everyone likes what they like. Everyone doesn’t like MC’s some people like rappers; but can we at least get a balance?? That’s why I stress if you like the shit you hear from whoever support the hell out of it!!!
The consumer decides the artist fates on an unsigned aspect. I don’t think that people see the scenario unless you are directly affected but it goes like this; the hardcore listener/fan is unable to get in a store and buy an unsigned artist that is raw as hell, who (as an MC) has to in turn drop mixtapes or internet material that barely pays the electric bill, who then has to instead of MC’ing has to get a job or hustles to eat and feed the family cuz music don’t cut it, which will eventually will lead to the demise or disappearance of that gre8 MC who could’ve been. Its sad as fuck and it makes my head and stomach hurt to even think about it! Hip Hop need’s a lot of help, it need’s a change like Obama.
Ox: Great rapper, lost to Nas in the battle, didn’t sign enough talented MC’s as Def Jam head, kind of hoping to bump into him so I can either get my deal or…lets just hope for the deal thing.
Breakin (the movie from the mid 80′s)
Ox: Part 2 was my favorite, but the broom scene in part 1 is sick. Yo, is Turbo still around? I need him for a future video project!!! This flick was Hip Hop in the making!!!
Puffy, P.Diddy, whatever you want to call him
Ox: Discovered one of the greatest of all time, conceited as fuck, bought Biggie’s publishing for $100,000 (WTF?), in a position to help a lot of MC’s out here like me but wont. He’d rather make the band! Likes to dance, and needs to give me a mere $80,000 for an entire album written by yours truly…Ohhh and how come no one on Bad Boy but him drops more than 2 albums???
Ox: Hmmm….got some nice bars (doper metaphors), came along way, annoys me with that other voice (the one where he sounds like he is being tortured), is everywhere I look, needs to put a couple million in the Ox movement!
“Eric B Is President”
Ox: One of the greatest songs every made!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The shit is still relevant today, when was that 88’?
Ox: Pioneer is own right, wealthy as hell, does a lot (from what I’ve seen or read) for grass roots organizations, needs to give me my own label, has a funny ass speaking voice, and sounds mad funny when he curses!
Gangsta griiillllllzzzz you bastard (yelling at the top of my lungs)….ummmmm that’s all I ever hear from the tapes I have heard. Has a great DJ voice, again needs to shop some shit this way!
Any last words?
Ox: If anyone needs to contact me feel free to 24/7 @:
com, and facebook. I get back to everyone that reaches out [personal or business] Thanks for the spotlight Trav and the support WYDU!! This blog is the shit, no question, people reading is fundamental so get familiar if you aren’t already! Help revive Hip Hop and support the starving artists like myself!!!! I totally forgot to mention Joey for RemedyBornMuzik. He is my best friend and engineer in ATL by way of Madison and I wouldnt be anywhere with any of these songs without him, he is the mixing and mastering extrodinare!!! Look out for ya boy Ox and his cohorts early 2009’ for the new shit and the re-issued old shit as well. Take care of your kids (all of em) and be a 100% you, know matter what life throws at you! Peace and Longevity……………..