Bobby Drake
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Bobby Drake

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | INDIE

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Spoken Word Hip Hop


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Family Power Comes to UWM"

A faint echo turned into a bellowing chant, reverberating sound waves down the Union’s second floor corridor. This chant came from a collection of repeated shouts of “Holy Moley Donut Shop….Holy Moley Donut Shop” around a microphone in Union Room 280 to kick off the third Grassroots event at UWM.

Family Power Music (FPM) (link) along with UWM’s new student organization, Family Power Production (FPP) puts on the Grassroots Open Mic and Artist Showcase. It is a weekly gathering of artists and poets usually held at the Miramar Theatre on Oakland and Locust every Wednesday night.

According to the founder and head of FPP Frank Berg, a sophomore studying Global Management with a minor in Economics and Business Spanish, the organization is devoted to collecting a neglected blend of artists.

“The aim of Grassroots is to promote an eclectic blend of artists and enlighten them to an all genre setting and showcase them throughout the UWM campus community,” said Berg.

However, with FPP joining the family last semester, Grassroots came to UWM on March 14 to tap into the student community and show them the diversity of an open mic.

Many students who participated at the event had stories to tell, anguish to release, or simply had something they wanted to share. From somber stories of childhood struggles with an abusive father to a narrative about a contemplative train ride on the Amtrak, artists came up to the microphone unreserved to disclose a part of themselves with the audience members about their life, political and social issues/opinions, and about hip-hop as an art itself.

“You don’t need a microphone to express yourself, nor a script,” said Ramsey. “We’ve had comedians and poets come up and do’s all about you”

Founders of Family Power Music Tony "Babygzus" Mack, Joshua "Jscribe" Gill-Sutton, and Nick "Nickajones" Ramsey got the group together in February of 2010. The group met many years ago, and has performed together in events throughout Milwaukee. Their goal is to spread the diversity of the UWM community by promoting music that inspires and enlightens while celebrating the arts and having fun.

They chose the name “Family Power Music” because each member has realized the importance of strength of family throughout their life and felt the name encompassed their mission.

Grassroots has drawn famous DJ’s, fire dancers, belly dancers, and recently featured 2011 Milwaukee Slam Champion Darlin Nikki at their Earth Day event at the Fireside Lounge last week at UWM.

Besides providing a platform for artist expression, the FPM has also:

· Donated over 500 pounds of canned goods to the Hunger Task Force (link)

· Collected canned goods and non perishable food items at Grassroots events

· Recently started collecting worn clothing items to donate to local charities

Berg met the group his freshman year at one of the Grassroots open mic shows at the Miramar as a performer and immediately became close friends with the group.

According to Ramsey, he was very enthusiastic about helping the FPM group to grow and decided to apply for an official organization on campus. This was official at the start of the spring semester.

Family Power Music is currently not an official organization. However, it will be called Family Power, an umbrella group for FPM and FPP, when they decide on what type of organization they will be.

“We are currently researching the best fit for us,” said Ramsey. “We have been in discussion with a few different lawyers about this and it is still up in the air.”

Holey Moley Donut Shop!

The "Holey Moley Donut Shop" phrase was started by a Milwaukee poet/spoken word artist named Bobby Drake, who was a part of Power of Word.

Power of Word was a collection poets, emcees, and musicians based in Milwaukee that traveled as an alliance in which Jscribe was a part of.

Drake mentioned at the first Grassroots open mic that it was a way that Power of Word artists would get "in the zone" before their performances. More recently, they started to invite the crowd to come up and join them in a circle around a microphone where this phrase is repeated over and over in order to gather a stronger sense of unity. They now ask the audience to join at every event.

Escape is a Paradox

When at the microphone, many artists had their eyes closed while they recited their poetry. Filled with emotion, their internal state synchronized with the external expression while poets recited their words.

Whenever there was a person in front of the microphone, everyone’s attention focused on that artist; never did anyone interrupt because the founders of Grassroots emphasize the importance of “respecting the mic.”

Hannah Josephs, a sophomore at UWM studying social work, said she comes to Grassroots events because she relates with the other poets and the music.

“I’ve been writing poetry since the eighth grade and it’s helped me through my childhood struggles,” said Josephs. “It’s like the first way I learned to cope with everything and it’s been a number one love of mine.”

Josephs shared a poem about conflicts in her life that she had to combat. While her poem was filled with metaphors, one can sense the pain she experienced as a child as she stop to collect herself after reading a few lines of her poem. Her story seemed to revolve around the remorse and pain of abuse she felt inflicted by a male figure, perhaps her father, growing up. After excusing herself, she started again and finished.

Towards the end of the night, Ramsey and “Jscribe” insisted on everyone coming up to the front to partake in a freestyle. A few people joined them on stage, and began to rap about various topics. In the end, it was all about unity.

Major record label vs. local talent

While there are many small and local organizations that strive to help struggling artists, most of the music industry is owned by media conglomerates that distribute and promote what has come to be termed as “formulaic” music.

It is fact that 70 percent of the world’s recorded music is promoted and sold by one of the four major media conglomerates, Universal Music, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, EMI Group, and Warner Music Group.

Keith Negus, a sociologist and former musician, in “Music genres and corporate cultures” said that “it is an extended argument about how the creation, circulation and consumption of popular music is shaped by record companies and their corporate owners, along with numerous other people who participate in the making of what I have called ‘genre cultures’.”

With a focus on mass appeal with “safe” artists (artists who are guaranteed to put out hits that will top music charts), many artists believe that major record labels focus on high consumer appeal in order to safely market music that is “unoriginal” because it is formulaic.

Nonetheless, the founders of Family Power emphasize the importance of originality and promote music that focuses on positivity, unity, and growth of various genres and mediums. There is no requirement to step on stage and walk up to the microphone at Grassroots.

Berg said that “an all genre open mic series is very beneficial to the growth of artists and their community,” and that is why they strive to keep the open mic events alive.

An ode by Zach Anderson for Grassroots

From strings to speech, woodwinds to brass,
This is the place to open up n let freedom last.

Fish is to streams, like roots are to grass,
Its free to get in, but it’s better to give back,
Bring a can of beets, peas and some cash,
You won’t regret the respect that you receive back.

From me to you, we accept all food,
Just as long as is doesn't rot away in the room.

It’s a given, it’s a fact...
The respect is here...
Everyone is welcome,
Across the world we steer.

From Finland to France, Japan to Greece,
We bring Milwaukee something new every week.

Become a friend,
You already are,
Only thing to remember,
When your here you’re a star.

From nerves that clash, to hula hoopn belly dance,
THIS is the place to open up n let freedom last.

Its grassroots,
Its family power,
Real people with a drive to devour,
The food of life,
The feel of love,
Each and every one of us deserves a spot up above.

So as we say each and every Wednesday,
Respect the mic and pretend its Sunday!
Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you... - Monika Janczuk

"$10,000 Awarded to Community Artists for Performance Ideas in the ARTery, New Park in Harambee"

MILWAUKEE, Feb. 26, 2014 – “What will you create to make the world more awesome?” Kid President asks in his pep talk video. Beintween posed this question to Milwaukee in the form of an Open Call for Performance Ideas, a public search for community talent to showcase in summer 2014. Community members dreamed up 116 ideas in response, and after an open jury hosted at All People’s Church, beintween awarded a total of $10,000 to the top 20 winners on Saturday, February 22.

The top 20 winners include Ina Onilu Drum and Dance Ensemble, Saehee Chang, Reynaldo Hernandez, Playback Milwaukee Theater Company, Hansberry-Sands Theatre Company, TRUE Skool, Annushka Peck with Holton Youth + Family Center and Milwaukee Public Theatre, Genesis Renji, Erick Ledesma, Express Yourself Milwaukee, Kameelah and Yazmeen Muhammad, Mikal Floyd-Pruitt, STITCH, Present Music, Marvin Jones, Summer of Peace, Overpass Light Brigade, Janus College Preparatory & Arts Academies, Bobby Drake and DJ Willie Shakes.

People ranging in age from 10-69 from a broad range of neighborhoods and cultures relating to the artery submitted their ideas. On Saturday, February 22, 55 finalists pitched their ideas live to a seven-person jury of neighborhood residents, community leaders and established artists.

“I am incredibly inspired by and in awe of the enthusiasm and creativity of our neighbors on all sides of the artery,” said Keith Hayes, LEED artist and designer of the artery exhibition space. “The response really affirms that Harambee and Riverwest residents want to participate in our mission to make art do work.”

All People’s Church in Harambee was a sight to behold with dynamic presentations, sunlight streaming through stained glass, and camaraderie developing among neighbors. Dozens who attended the event shared hot meals catered by Localicious and Pepper Pot and stayed for hours to bear witness to the creative talent within their communities. Participants experienced an enthusiastic lineup featuring filmmakers, poets, percussionists, chefs, praise dancers, DJs and performance pioneers. The many mesmerizing presentations sparked the imagination about the performance experience possible in the artery this summer.

“It was outstanding,” said juror J. Allen Stokes. “I would encourage anybody who wasn’t there to stay tuned for more information on the events this summer because I know they’ll be off the chain.” Stokes served on the jury beside Evelyn Patricia Terry, Isaiah Rembert, Niko Kennedy, Brad Pruitt, Jamie Ferschinger and Alderman Nik Kovac.

Each of the top 20 performance ideas was awarded a $500 prize and a budget of up to $1,500 to produce their work as a part of the artery’s first summer performance series, Season One.

“It will be clean, wholesome family entertainment provided in a safe environment for free,” said Stokes. “Season One will also be a cultural exchange, and that’s not something that you often get in these neighborhoods. I take my hat off to everyone who put this together, and Milwaukee should give them credit for a job well done.”

Season One is slated for the final Saturdays in June, July and August 2014 in the artery, a new community-based linear arts park in Harambee. The artery is designed by beintween and community members in partnership with the Greater Milwaukee Committee, Riverworks and the City of Milwaukee through an initiative called ‘Creational Trails, and is supported by national funding from Artplace America. The artery was once part of the Old Milwaukee Railroad’s Gibson Yards, extending northwest for 2/3 mile from the intersection of Keefe Avenue and Richards Street to a bridge over Capitol Drive near Third Street.

For more information on beintween, the artery and the Season One top 20, visit For more information on ‘Creational Trails, please visit - Press Release- Feb 27th, 2014 09:04 am

"5 Questions for Milwaukee poet Bobby Drake"

Milwaukee poet Bobby Drake has been around, sharing stages with the likes of Harry Belafonte, Muhibb Dyer and former Brew City slam poet Dan Vaughn.

Now that his third record, "Hands Down," is ready to go – it is officially released Nov. 12 – Drake is getting ready to launch it with a soon-to-be announced hometown gig.

In the meantime, we caught up with him to talk about his style, his poetry and "Hands Down," a hard-hitting mix of R&B, hip-hop and other styles layered to provide a rock-solid foundation for his verse, which he calls a message of hope and perseverance. Give us the quick history of Bobby Drake, the man and the poet.

Bobby Drake: I have so many influences as Bobby Drake. The poets before my generation of poets in the city took me under their collective wings as I came onto the scene. Hitting open mics and writing with other people that had just started writing was an influence.

It turned me on to producing two live spoken word albums, a spoken word mix tape, touring the country as both an organizer and poet, mentoring other young writers and coming up with this vision for Hands Down-that’s the short version. The long version is about a hundred names and a million stories about George Webb’s on Third Street with the twin clocks at 4 in the morning.

OMC: From where do you get your inspiration?

BD: I draw inspiration from everything. It’s a cliché, I know but it’s true. If you ask me "Why?" about anything, I can write about it. When asked why I felt a way about something specifically that happened, or is happening, I started to look at all emotions, including all of my own reasoning, like it could be a poem if I wrote it down. I’d edit it and then refine it through a performance.

I'll come up with an idea, walking along just thinking out loud and I'll sit with that idea until the pieces of it come together through other experiences. It could be an article I read or the way an announcer says something on CNN. Literally, anything could inspire a poem at this point. Some things feel heavier or draw you to them like, the first Black president or the political rhetoric, but life happens all the time and it’s not always about the big explosions.

Sometimes it’s the way a man looks at a woman across the room and the way that woman looks away and flips her hair.

OMC: It's interesting how your approach as a poet, rhythmically especially, differs from what rappers do. Has it been difficult for you to find that voice or does it just come naturally?

BD: I wouldn’t say it’s been difficult but it’s been a journey. "It’s Just (Heartbreak Hotel)" was written as a poem, but it was written to the music. "Every Day" was written as a rant, a capella.

I produce music. So at first I thought that poetry had to be one way. A certain "type" of beat and a certain "type" of message and rap had to be something else. But as I matured, I realized that I was making all these beats that I still wanted to spit on. So I set out to make songs with poems. Once I got to that point it was natural. But I wouldn’t say it was a struggle to get there.

The real struggle to me is getting others to accept that I’m not trying to rap. I love most kinds of rap. I just know that’s not what I have here. It’s not what I do.

OMC: As the record progressed, I was intrigued by the variety of instrumentation on "Lady" and "Drive," for example. But then I heard "Change of the Guard." Why did you decide to use no instruments at all on that one?

BD: I wanted a poem, just a straight up and down, no frills, matter of fact, angry, poem on the album. It starts the point in the album where the heavier content kicks off and both I and Edward Cayce, my engineer, co-executive producer and good friend, thought it would be the right way to change the tone.

OMC: Have you heard the so-called dub poets from Jamaican and England? Guys like Michael Smith and Linton Kwesi Johnson? Though the music is different, that seems to me to be a lot like what you do.

BD: I can see that, I had to look them up, I'd heard of Kwesi but wasn’t too familiar with his work. Over these last few years I had looked at it like it may have been close to what Gil Scott-Heron was doing, but without me singing. Or maybe I was just full of myself. (Laughs)

Tags: Bobby Drake, poetry, Edward Cayce, Dan Vaughn, Harry Belafonte, Muhibb Dyer - OnMilwaukee Bobby Tanzilo

"New MKE Music: Bobby Drake is hands down on the map"

I've been lucky enough to witness spoken word artist Bobby Drake completely destroy stages around the city for a few years now. And now lucky for all of you, his latest cd is finally here. Taking inspiration from his own life, his many travels across the country performing for, and with, the likes of Dan Vaughn and Harry Belafonte and his upbringing that made him into what he his, Hands Down is a snapshot of all of that and more.

Lead single "Every Day" is the expresso shot you put in your coffee in the morning that drives you to whatever your goals are. And no matter what the topic it may be, whether fatherhood, relationships, religion or your own hangups, each song on the album gives you that boost you need for your own progression. Add in the orchestrated, live drummed music production and guest features by Patrice Downey, D. Ellezey and a personal favorite singer of mine Ozara Ode, and you have a CD that you'll add to your regular rotation.

Get it now on CD baby and while you wait for the download, listen to the remix of "Every Day" below. - DJ Bizzon

"Bobby Drake presents "The 44th""

Local poet Bobby Drake (pictured) was so inspired by the election of Barack Obama in 2008, that he decided he needed to do something to be a part of what he saw as a burgeoning cultural movement. That year, Drake started working on his new T-Shirt line The 44th,— a reference to Obama being the 44th president — in collaboration with Milwaukee R&B singer Patrice Downey (performing below). Drake and Downey hope the apparel line becomes more than just a fashion statement, but a conversation piece.

“The 44th promotes our generation and our ability to make a difference," says Drake. "The T-shirt is intended to help people feel empowered, to join the conversation and take action on issues that are important to them.”

The two are targeting the politically astute and less engaged community members between the ages of 14-47 to become more a part of the political process, as well as a broader cultural discussion they hope will develop from promotion of the shirts and corresponding events.

This Sunday, Drake and Downey will host “PD & BD at ONE,” the first of several events promoting the T-shirt project. The show takes place at One Sports Lounge, 1003 N. Old World Third St., on July 29 at 6 p.m. and will feature performances by Drake and Downey with a live band. Cover is $10 without a T-shirt; free with the purchase of the T-shirt.

The 44th T-shirts are available at The cost of the shirt is $22 for sizes SM-XL and $25 for sizes XXL-4X.

“This is just the beginning; we plan to expand our efforts and activities as our movement gains momentum,” says Drake. “It’s simple: Wear the shirt, make the statement. The 44th will evolve as the people come together.” -


Still working on that hot first release.



Imagine a young lady, on stage before an audience. She has a microphone in her hand and her bass-playing boyfriend at her side. They exchange a look and for a moment when the music starts, the energy begins to flow, we forget that shes pregnant.

Imagine a newborn baby being rocked to sleep, while his aunts sing to him and his uncles practice obsessively in the basement.

Now imagine this child being anything but an artist.

This is the calling of Bobby Drake.

As a poet, Bobby Drake has traveled across the United States. He is honored to have shared his talent at prestigious universities, nightclubs, radio station sponsored events, block parties, high schools and even street-corner sessions. He has shared the stage with national talent including, Dan Vaughn, Muhibb Dyer, and Harry Belafonte to name a few.

As a volunteer, full time organizer and field director for The Campaign Against Violence,Bobby Drake has left his personal touch on many of the small victories that spelled the difference between winning and losing an election. His hands-on approach to organizing, including the disenfranchised in the political process to foster change, has given him a credibility that cannot be bought.

Always aware of the power of words, his peers have labeled him, Provocative!; Poignant!; and Necessary to the spoken word movement!

His fans have said of him, Bobby has a way of saying what everyone is pretending they dont know. And saying it in a way that forces you to deal with it.

Available now wherever albums are sold, "Hands Down" draws on the experiences of a millennial coming of age. With a decidedly cross genre feel Hands Down is thought provoking, emotional poetry seamlessly blended with Bobby Drakes expertly orchestrated, live drummed music production. It has the repeat appeal of an Alternative or Hip Hop album, with the content often missing from todays music: a message of Hope and Perseverance through personal revelation.

Band Members