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East meets Midwest in Riverwest

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In an era where it has become commonplace to call another artist out to gain notoriety and recognition, it is important to bring attention to instances of unity and collaborative creation. One such instance took place Saturday, November 30 when Rebel Diaz, YC The Cynic, Luss, and Vithym traveled to Milwaukee to share the stage with some of Milwaukee's finest hip hop in the form of Flo' Tron, Killwaukee Experiment and Boom BenJamn.

YC The Cynic is touring in support of his highly acclaimed release "GNK". In addition, copies of "Radical Dilemma" by Rebel Diaz were available for sale to those in attendance, days in advance of the official release date. Uptowner in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood has been host to Thankstaking since its inception. Thankstaking Pt. 3 was hosted by Mic Crawf of Flo Tron and the DJ for the evening was DJ Charlie Hustle.

I opted against writing a straight review of the performances, because sometimes something goes beyond what was seen or heard. Instead this article is a story of dedication, hard work, sacrifice and unity. It is a story that spans more than a thousand miles and involves numerous airplane trips and a lengthy van ride from New York City. Thankstaking Pt. 3 will have an effect on the independent hip hop scenes in three cities by the time everything is said and done.

Thankstaking, in its third year, was the brainchild of DJ Charlie Hustle, a DJ and music producer who has ties to Milwaukee and New York City and the members of Rebel Diaz, who are from Chicago, but currently live in New York City. The idea for the event was spawned from a single collaboration track between Rebel Diaz and Milwaukee's Killwaukee Experiment and has grown into an annual event that is growing larger every year.

The emphasis of the event and the collective message was one of political consciousness, intelligence and independence and diversity. The crowd was comprised of people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds, representative of Milwaukee, New York City and Chicago as a whole. In attendance were many Milwaukee MCs and musicians, including local musician Scott Summers, who jumped in with several of the acts to provide live saxophone accompaniment for the artists. It seems competition often wins out over collaboration, but Thankstaking Pt. 3 showed what is possible when ego and everything else is set aside for the purpose of the music and the message.

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