On Friday, November 13 Tommy Chamberlain, De’Anthony Manns, Clarence Corbett and Francis Harper, seniors, released a mixtape entitled CTD & THC, produced by Vertical, a production company run by Harper.
The first half of their name is made up of the first letter of each of the rapper’s names, and THC stands for “The Hot Crew.” Vertical is Harper’s childhood name, and he wants to become a producer for a living. He currently works with local Milwaukee artists, rappers specifically.
They had the idea for the mixtape a week before its release, when Manns, Chamberlain and Corbett freestyled at lunch to Harper’s beats.
“It started out as something we’d always talked about and it began as a joke at first, but once we got into it, it because less of a joke but more of a project, retaining the humor that we began with it. We wanted it to sound like a real song,” Chamberlain said.
The group wants to stress that the tape was done spontaneously as a form of expression and should be critiqued as so.
“I want people to realize we did this very quickly, and we did it in a relaxed way, and I’m surprised at how many people appreciate our mediocre rapping skills,” Chamberlain said.
The tape featured songs that were centered on Shorewood and the Shorewood community.
“We wanted to give something for people to relate to, not just a cliché rap song,” Corbett said.
Harper produced the tape and beats used in the tracks, and Chamberlain, Corbett and Manns did the vocals and wrote their own lyrics. It was recorded in Harper’s home recording studio.
Each vocalist developed their own persona in the tape.
“My persona is the skater stoner guy. [For] example, … at one point in the lyrics I do an ollie off the Copperdome,” Corbett said.
“My persona came from the student section at SHS. One of my lines is, ‘student section got no chill,’ and all my raps are more on the hype side, which reminds me of how I act in the student section at games,” Chamberlain said.
Manns sees himself as the chill, laid-back rapper of the trio.
The mixtape is accessible on SoundCloud, and the group made a video for the first track,“The Dog Pound,” which is available on YouTube. The video featured the student body and was taped in scenes around the school, including one scene filmed at Whitefish Bay.
“We made an announcement and just kind of started playing it and hoped everyone was feeling the song and grooving along to it … It was cool bringing everyone together like that,” Corbett said.
Not every student was eager to participate, but the group is confident of the product.
“Many students wanted to be in the video and many were camera-shy, but once they see the video they’ll wish they were in it,” Chamberlain said.
Students have had mixed reactions to the tape.
“I thought the diss track was hilarious,” said Ashley Kinnard, junior. “I think all the tracks have an amazing hook and each of [the rappers] brought a certain part to the group … The bars were funny and Clarence’s flow was on point.”
Leah Jorn, junior, had some concerns.
“The song ‘4 Da Ladies’ made me feel uncomfortable, objectified and sexualized. A lot of rap songs say these things, but with this, since we know them, it made me feel a lot more uncomfortable,” Jorn said, “The diss track for Whitefish Bay also seemed a little too aggressive. Despite this I do admire their ability to make and produce the songs professionally.”
Chamberlain has gotten a lot of feedback from the community.
“The day that we released it I felt like a mini-celebrity because I was getting messages from all over SHS, other schools and almost everyone who knew me … It was cool,” Chamberlain said.
“We wanted to reignite the rivalry between Whitefish Bay and Shorewood, and we thought we could do that though this mixtape. Obviously it’s working … I was speaking the truth, I was speaking the image that Whitefish Bay portrays,” Chamberlain said.
The group sees music as a way to unify the student body.
“We wish everyday we had a speaker on the front lawn because when music was playing these was a better atmosphere and connection between the people,” Chamberlain said.
by Monica Dix