Coo Coo Cal Celebrates Milwaukee
Popular rapper’s song “Home” is filled with images from and love for his “home town.”
Coo Coo Cal’s music video, called “Home,” showcases a number of Milwaukee’s landmarks. These include the new Milwaukee Bucks Stadium, the Harley Davidson Museum, the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino and the Milwaukee Mall. City of Milwaukee parks, North Division High School and Washington High School, Barack Obama School of Career and Technical Education and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School appear in the video. It also features people in Coo Coo Cal’s personal life, including his lover and three children.
Coo Coo Cal, born Calvin Bellamy, is a rapper most known for the 2001 hit, “My Projects.” Although he lives in Atlanta and has traveled throughout his life, because his father was in the Army, Bellamy considers Milwaukee his home. Both “My Projects” and “Home” portray a positive image of the city.
The video features local businesses such as Ashley’s Bar-B-Que, at 1501 W. Center St., Sherman Park’s Waz’s Pub, Redd’s Snapper Seafoods II, Mr. Perkins Family Restaurant, the Cuz 1 Stop Shop and Tastee Twists ice cream shop, which is famous in Lindsay Heights. Additionally, tree memorials and smiling African-American people demonstrate the communal aspects of Milwaukee.
Signs for Arts@Large, Westlawn Gardens Apartments, Holton Terrace, Atkinson Apartments, Burleigh Street, Roosevelt Drive, Victory Bible and Missionary Baptist churches and a City of Milwaukee Strong Neighborhoods Plan advertisement can be seen as well.
“I like that the video showed parts of the city that a lot of people don’t like to showcase,” said Arquailo Mosby, 25, a rapper whose stage name is WoLF.
“I love how he showcased the city in a positive light,” added Tre’Von Barrett-Bays, 22, a Milwaukee rapper with the stage name CAMB. He added that doing so is “very needed considering how much negativity surrounds the city’s name.”
Akbar Furquan, 22, whose stage name is AK Stackz, said that Bellamy’s video “definitely makes me nostalgic of how the city used to be and how things have changed over time.”
Joshua Jenkins, a member of the ADHD rap group, said, “It was nice to see him … take it back to the city that made him. A lot of artists don’t come back and do what he does.” Jenkins, 19, added that he appreciates Bellamy’s positive portrayal of Milwaukee, which he feels is atypical of the city’s narrative.
In the music video, Bellamy addresses challenges that confront the city, rapping about untrustworthy people, the prison system and drug culture in Milwaukee. He also addresses money, greed and soldiers dying overseas. Fee$, the featured vocalist in Bellamy’s single, sings, “I’ve been around the world, and I’m back because something was wrong — ain’t no place like home!”
Bellamy has lived in Louisiana, Texas, Germany and Richmond, Virginia. When his father retired from the Army, he taught in UW-Milwaukee’s ROTC program, which brought Bellamy to Milwaukee.
For Bellamy, familiar faces, weekend barbeques and other personal memories make Milwaukee feel like home, according to people who know him. Bellamy declined to be interviewed for this story.
In the documentary, Bellamy discusses his experiences with drug addiction and failing albums. It also is expected to provide insight into his early life and career.
Despite the success of his sophomore album, Bellamy’s position at the top of U.S. music charts and his notoriety following the release of “My Projects,” the collapse of Tommy Boy Records contributed to his inability to sell more mainstream albums and release high-performing singles, according to his website. Tommy Boy Records, the company through which he released his second album, went under around the time of the album’s release.
Despite Bellamy’s challenges, he is still viewed as a force in Milwaukee’s rap culture. “Coo Coo Cal definitely left an indelible impact on Milwaukee’s music scene,” said Jenkins. “There’s many different styles of hip-hop in the city. His grit and trap rap-like style reverberate throughout the city. He gave people hope,” he added.
Furquan said Bellamy is “respected for what he’s done and also remembered as an example of what could happen if you reach success and can’t handle it properly.”
This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on eighteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee.