Milwaukee hip hop legends give back to struggling youth

MILWAUKEE — Steven Love lived on 19th and Locust in Milwaukee until he was 12. Then he and his family moved to 47th and Garfield.

“I was doing petty crimes, stealing aluminum out of people’s yards and stuff,” said Love. “Once I started heading across the bridge I got exposed to a whole different world.”

What You Need To Know

  • This collaboration between the Juvenile Detention Center and Dee Star is part of Madison Public Libraries BUBBLER Program
  • A large majority of violent youth offenders have an incarcerated household member, which leads them to dealing with trauma and mental health issues
  • If you would like to get involved with the BUBBLER Program to help support more collaborations like this one, you can follow this link to find out more

Love was caught up in street life as a kid, robbing and stealing from his neighbors and hanging with what he called “the wrong crowds.”

“These guys came and shot my mom’s house up. You can see these bullets, about a hundred rounds,” said Love. “I had come home because I heard they were riding around my house and I was going to catch them first.”

Steven Love points to a bullet hole on his mom’s house. (Spectrum News 1/Cody Taylor)

No one got hurt, but Love said police officers showed up and he ended up facing some legal trouble. 

“I told the cops I didn’t know anything and months later these guys told on me,” said Love. “That’s when I knew that all of that street code was all made up.”

Even as a young kid, Love had an idea of who he wanted to be when he grew up. 

“One of my favorite movies was always the ‘Beverly Hillbillies’ because the baker always used to pull up in that Rolls Royce and as a kid, I used to watch that and think, that’s how I want to live,” said Love.  

(Spectrum News 1/Cody Taylor)

He soon found out he wasn’t going to achieve his goals hustling on the streets. 

“When I was about 16 years old, I got myself in trouble where I was facing 25 years as a juvenile and the only thing that saved me was I had a job at the time and I was in school,” said Love. “At that time, it changed my mind about the way I was living life and I realized what I was doing was not worth it.”

Love is now the president of It’s Just Money Entertainment and the owner of Ricarda Amor Tequila, which was named after his mother. 

He made it off the streets and recently joined forces with Milwaukee hip hop legend Baby Drew to help troubled youth facing similar challenges. 

The two appeared on the Outta Dee Box Podcast, hosted by Dee Star and based in Madison. Star runs a juvenile podcast program that teaches troubled youth how to set up equipment and conduct interviews. 

“The goal is for them to take their minds out of here and teach them a new skill,” said Star. 

Star said he tries to bring in guests with similar life experiences to the youth listeners. Baby Drew and Love said they have been in these kids’ shoes and know exactly what they are going through.

Baby Drew rode to popularity in the 1990s and early 2000s. During that time, he said he lost a lot of loved ones.

“I have had friends and family members who were never lucky enough to have this halfway part between life and death. Some of them just immediately went to the cemetery,” said Drew.

Baby Drew said rap and hip hop culture have a huge influence on kids’ lives. During the podcast interview, one of the kids asked what Drew said was a very important question: “What are some of the main messages that you want today’s young rappers to hear through your songs?”

(Spectrum News 1/Cody Taylor)

“We should take more responsibility in what we say and what we put on the atmosphere, and it is not always about having to live out what we are talking about on records,” said Drew. 

Reflecting on his own life and the songs he released when he was younger, Baby Drew said he regrets some of the lyrics he put into his songs about selling drugs and shooting guns. 

“I would like to say to anyone that listens to any of my music, even if you hear my music now, the outcome is not good,” said Drew. “The outcome is in [juvenile detention] or in the cemetery or the people we leave behind, we leave bills behind to bury us.” 

After the podcast, the kids told Love and Baby Drew that they really spoke to them.

Love said the hope was to change the way they look at life and keep them out of jail in the future. 

“Someone talked to me and saved my life and if you read my shirt, it says, ‘Do you believe in you? Because God do,’” said Love. “So, we basically want the kids to believe in themselves because if no one else believes in them, they should believe in themselves.” 

The collaboration between the Juvenile Detention Center and Dee Star is part of Madison Public Libraries’ BUBBLER program

If you would like to get involved with the Bubbler Program to help support more collaborations like this one, click here to find out more. 

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