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88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Today's stream is sponsored by Maxie's

"Make Milwaukee": Finding Hmong Roots Through Hip Hop

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(Main story image from millsizz's Flickr)

Listen: As we continue our exploration of cultural identity and creatives working in Milwaukee, we meet a musician (check out his Myspace page), actor (check out his IMDB page), and activist Elvis Thao. I've spoken with Elvis before, so I had a game plan going into the interview, but as things go, the conversation ended up meandering, touching on family, music, politics, Hmong history, art, Milwaukee, and plenty more -- Elvis' path through life has been fascinating.

My plan was to make a broad-scope piece, tracing his chronology. Then, Elvis made the following statement: "Before hip hop, I didn't even care that I was Hmong..." That statement struck me -- hip hop, a thoroughly American art from in its origin, led to Elvis search for his own story as a Hmong-American. Let's explore: 

[audio=http://www.radiomilwaukee.org/sites/default/files/mp3/podcast/MM%202011%20(Week%208%20-%20Elvis%20Thao)%20B.mp3]

There is far more to his story, as well as the Hmong community in Milwaukee. Soon, we'll be back again to gather more.